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The San Diego City Council this afternoon is scheduled to decide whether to sell 19 properties ranging from homes in La Jolla to downtown high-rises in what would be the city’s first large-scale land sale in memory.

Mayor Jerry Sanders hopes to raise $40 million from the sale; he’s budgeted $15 million in land sale proceeds in his fiscal year 2008 budget proposal.

The sale is part of a larger effort to reorganize and streamline the city’s Real Estate Assets Division. The Mayor’s Office also wants to break with tradition and sell the properties through brokers rather than public auctions.

A county grand jury applauded those reorganization efforts earlier this month.

Many real estate professionals generally agree with the city’s new approach, saying the city has wandered into areas it shouldn’t have — such as being a residential landlord.

“This is exactly the type of inventory they should be selling: it is operationally inefficient to own these,” said real estate advisor Gary London in an e-mail.

Others have said it is shortsighted for the city to rid itself of properties that could be moneymaking if they received the proper care and investment.

According to city law, money from land sales can only go toward capital projects. But the millions of dollars Sanders hopes to raise will allow him to free up money that would’ve been used on infrastructure projects to fill other holes in a tight budget.

Click here for my story on the first plots considered for sale and here for another story about how the city came to own some of the properties in a land portfolio that’s considered to be vast and unique.

And check back for more on this story later today.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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