Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2008 | The Mayor and his staff are being disingenuous about failing to return more than $8,000 of campaign contributions from developers associated with the Otay Mesa Community Plan Update. Though officially the Otay Mesa Planning Coalition disbanded last year (because of the city’s concern over the conflict of this small group of developers funding a 10,000 acre community plan update), three of the four update alternatives that are about to go before city council and the Planning Coalition for a final vote are still the developer-backed alternatives. Even the fourth alternative encompasses most of the developers’ wishes for changing their land from industrially to residentially zoned property. This “upzoning,” if approved, would be a financial windfall for this small group of developers who bought their land based on industrially zoned pricing.

If the zoning changes to residential, they would see their land value soar to many times their initial investment. That is why they have contributed generously not just to the Mayor but also to Councilman Ben Hueso, whose district includes Otay Mesa. They or their consultants contributed over 30 percent of the total amount Hueso received in the last election cycle.

One other problematic issue with the Mayor not returning these contributions is that the development group has sent a formal letter to city officials asking them to pay back over $9 million they claim they spent on the community plan update. Voice did a great job on reporting on this issue a few months ago. Although the Mayor has rejected this reimbursement so far, a large lawsuit could be in the works. Thus the political contributions to the Mayor and the request by the Planning Coalition members for reimbursements underline that these developers still have “business” in front of the City. As evident by the Mayor’s own words, he should return these contributions immediately.

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