A little after 2 p.m., I walked into the Centre City Development Corp.’s downtown offices to collect the public records promised to me after seven weeks of waiting.

I was pleased to see that CCDC was turning over more than I expected. The agency gave me the data I was seeking from its primary consultant, Keyser Marston Associates, a draft environmental study and more invoices from the project.

Taxpayers spent $162,000 on legal, environmental and redevelopment consultants to study downtown’s remaining blight. Keyser Marston’s unfinished draft study was missing key pieces of backup information, which we now have.

We remain in dispute with the agency over blacked-out legal invoices that don’t allow us to see what the firms billed for, or even if those bills were for the blight study or other legal work. CCDC has invoked attorney-client privilege in not releasing the information. It paid $10,528 for lawyers.

We also have made two more recent records requests to the agency that have yet to be fulfilled.

The information we’ve been seeking is central to the legitimacy of late-night state legislation passed in October that allowed CCDC to collect more than $1 billion in future downtown property taxes. The legislation effectively extended CCDC’s lifespan for two decades.

The legislation circumvented a public process that would have required CCDC to prove downtown remained blighted to justify the siphoning of future tax revenue away from local schools, the county and the city’s day-to-day operating budget.

The draft study’s deficiencies and the downtown development boom over the last 35 years — including the revitalization of the Gaslamp Quarter and building of landmarks like Horton Plaza mall and Petco Park — have led local redevelopment experts to question if the study would have been able to justify the continued subsidizing of downtown.

The state legislation could have been a way around the state’s requirements to prove blight, they argue.

We’re now in possession of a survey of downtown properties, spreadsheets and environmental reports and we’ll do our best to wade through them as best and as soon as we can.

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

Liam Dillon

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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