The Morning Report
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Richard Chase, one of the developers behind Proposition B, the plan to build a deck atop the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal, said a “philosophical disagreement” with his business partner, Frank Gallagher, had led to the anemic campaign for the initiative.
The developers raised enough money to fund an effort to get enough signatures on a petition to put the initiative on the ballot. But then they didn’t raise another cent. After July 1, they reported raising no cash for the campaign.
At the same time their campaign was lagging, opponents to the concept formed one of the most robust coalitions of any recent election — Mayor Jerry Sanders and labor unions are not often teamed up together. Opponents raised more than $400,000 to fund a campaign that included television commercials.
Chase said he’d had a fundamental disagreement with Gallagher about how to introduce their initiative to the public and rally support. Chase said his hope was for “an inclusive project where all of the groups and companies and organization should have in the very early stages been brought in as part of the stakeholders. Obviously it was public land and it was worth a great deal more than the value it was producing. The real value should be divided among all of those stakeholders.”
Gallagher didn’t disagree with the principle, Chase said, but “was concerned about surfacing what we were doing too early in the process and generating competitors. That’s the origins of it.”
The result was a 70 percent to 30 percent loss Tuesday.
The East Coast financiers who put up the money to get the initiative on the ballot didn’t follow up with cash for the campaign. Chase said that after opposition began mounting, the financiers “said they were happy to put up money for the campaign but they’d like to see some money from San Diego.” The developers weren’t able to find any.
Gallagher said investors were scared off by the failed litigation filed by the Unified Port of San Diego, which manages the 10th Avenue cargo terminal.
“We spent every dollar the best way we could, and a lot of it got consumed in litigation,” Gallagher said. “Maybe we should’ve factored more money in for litigation in hindsight. That’s probably what we could’ve done differently. If we had more money to get the truth out, I think it would’ve won.”
He said that his group hadn’t showed plans to groups when the effort was launched because they weren’t complete. Gallagher said he didn’t believe it was prudent to discuss a concept that might have had a fatal flaw discovered during a planning effort that cost in the “high six figures.”
Both men agreed that they’d had at least one success: Sparking a conversation about the 10th Avenue terminal. And while neither ruled out bringing the idea back in the future, neither sounded enthusiastic about it, either. Both said they had no immediate plans to do so.
“Never say never,” Chase said.