Helen Holmes Peak, the corporate counsel for the Centre City Development Corp., has resigned, citing concerns about a potential conflict of interest.

Peak, who is a partner with Lounsbery Ferguson Altona & Peak LLP, an Escondido law firm, participated in discussions about the proposed Ballpark Village from 2005 to 2007, while one of her partners represented Lennar Corp., one of the project’s developers.

She did not disclose the relationship on her statements of economic interest until 2007. Even when she did report it, she did not recuse herself from meetings and discussions about Ballpark Village, a massive mixed-use project proposed by JMI Realty and Lennar.

Peak disclosed receiving more than $10,000 from Lennar in 2007, according to her annual conflict-of-interest disclosure forms. But she didn’t subsequently recuse herself from discussions about Ballpark Village, saying that she didn’t know Lennar was involved.

Lennar is essentially a silent partner in the project; it is part owner of the underlying land but is not listed documentation submitted about the project.

CCDC Chairman Fred Maas said Peak provided “administrative and procedural guidance” on Ballpark Village and was not involved in any “deal points.”

“Did it arise to the level of a conflict? I don’t know without knowing the details,” Maas said. “There are some things that are minor and administrative. But she needed to act quickly and I agree with her.”

In her resignation letter, Peak said she was unaware that Lennar had an ongoing role in Ballpark Village. “I did not know or have reason to believe I should have disqualified myself from those meetings,” she said. Peak owns 25 percent of the law firm that received money from Lennar. One of her partners represented Lennar on an Escondido-area housing project, she said.

Peak, who has been CCDC’s attorney since 2001, said in the resignation letter that she had been involved in the project by producing records responsive to the California Public Records Act requests. She didn’t cite any other involvement and said she would be filing amended statements of economic interest with the city.


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