If too many people knew about the late-minute state deal to extend the life of downtown redevelopment, then it could have fallen apart, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders said in a radio interview that aired this morning.

That’s why Sanders, local state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher and officials from the city’s downtown redevelopment agency kept City Council, San Diego County, other lawmakers and the public in the dark in their pursuit of legislation that eliminates limits on downtown redevelopment.

The bill, introduced and passed in the waning hours of state budget negotiations, is awaiting Gov. Schwarzenegger’s signature. It will be a boon for downtown and for the Chargers push for a publicly subsidized $800 million football stadium. But the effects on the city’s other neighborhoods and the county and other governments’ bottom lines are unknown.

City Council and county supervisors were in the middle of negotiations to lift the cap, but the legislation cut them out of the process. It was the right thing to do, Sanders told KPBS.

“There were a lot of people in other cities who didn’t want this to happen. And my fear was that the wider this got out the harder it would be to get done,” he said.

Sanders, Fletcher and downtown redevelopment head Fred Maas all have argued that an ends justify the means approach was necessary. But the decision comes at a politically difficult time for the mayor.

A key part of November’s Proposition D campaign is trust in city leaders to complete meaningful financial reforms tied to the ballot measure’s sales tax increase. Sanders had promised negotiations on lifting the cap would be transparent, but jumped at the state deal instead.

Even Sanders’ key ally on Prop. D, Councilwoman Donna Frye, said it was right for city voters to question their trust for San Diego government after how the state deal went down.

Please contact Liam Dillon directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/dillonliam.

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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