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Tuesday, April 15, 2008 | Rob Davis has done a great job summarizing development of Otay Mesa in his article titled “After Being Pushed Aside, Developers Seek $9 Million Refund from City.” What is so appalling is that local developers got together to control and manipulate the land use for their own financial benefit. Community planning is supposed to be a government function to benefit the public, with painstaking detailed analysis of how best to use land for the long term. Here, however, the developers wanted to change the land use from industrial to housing for their short-term financial gain, not for community planning purposes.
Land use has always been the most fundamental way to control power and money: throughout all history, wars have been fought over land for the creation of empires, the extraction of its resources and control of the people. In our tidy and polite hamlet of San Diego, that kind of thing is way too messy and would never be tolerated, so instead, we have developer-monarchs writing up and lording over community plans to facilitate land grabs that accomplish the very same goals. Interestingly, if the real estate market hadn’t tanked, they’d still be fighting to control the development of Otay Mesa, but now, since houses aren’t selling, they want out and worse, they want their investment back. So what were they in it for—community development or profiteering?