One of the greatest benefits to the last-minute state deal that eliminated the city of San Diego’s limit on downtown redevelopment is that it will save the city money, downtown redevelopment head Fred Maas told me in an interview today.

Costs from litigation, filed either by San Diego County or anyone else against lifting the cap, easily could have topped $1 million, said Maas, chairman of the Centre City Development Corp. Opponents could have protested in court that downtown San Diego would continue to receive the county or school district’s share of tax revenues.

The new state law, suddenly passed this morning with little warning after an all-night debate, stopped those kinds of lawsuits before they could start. The Legislature now has declared that downtown San Diego still needs redevelopment. Lawsuits arguing downtown doesn’t need it now appear to be meaningless.

The deal allows downtown redevelopment to continue until 2033, 10 years beyond when it was expected to expire.

This is a decision that was expected to be made on the local level. In June, the City Council agreed to spend $500,000 on a study to determine if downtown was downtrodden enough to continue justifying its status as a redevelopment area.

Maas said this morning he stopped all work by the consultant because it was unneeded.

Maas said he wasn’t sure how much of that $500,000 had been spent already. He had expected preliminary results from the study would have been ready by the end of the month.

The state deal, Maas said, provides certainty that downtown redevelopment will continue, meaning that developers are more likely to start construction projects.

“There’s this idea out there that raising the cap is like putting money on the CCDC ATM card,” Maas said. “That was a myth. Any money that’s on the ATM card is money that comes from continuing growth downtown.”

Please contact Liam Dillon directly at or 619.550.5663 and follow him on Twitter:

Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

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