Next week, the city will begin taking a second look at an unusual lease extension that was rushed through the City Council in the waning days of Mayor Jerry Sanders’ tenure.
The city attorney admitted in late December the deal to extend the lease for the Bahia Resort Hotel might not have been legal.
In closed session Monday, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith will discuss with the council and Mayor Bob Filner whether the agreement can go forward as written.
Cory Briggs, of Briggs Law Corporation, threatened to sue over the lease on behalf of San Diegans for Open Government, alleging the extension violated the municipal code because it didn’t include a new land valuation for the property. His threat followed reporting in which we highlighted the peculiarities of the agreement and the bizarre logic behind the city’s desire to fast-track the deal.
Initially, Briggs said he’d file the lawsuit by Jan. 15 if the lease wasn’t rescinded. When the City Attorney’s Office said the agreement would be revisited, Briggs offered to extend the deadline to Feb. 15, to give the city time to address his concerns.
But the city attorney’s office hasn’t specifically said the agreement was illegal. And it hasn’t said the council will definitely rescind the new lease.
“In an abundance of caution, we are recommending the entire matter be re-heard by the City Council,” said Leslie FitzGerald, chief deputy city attorney. “The agreement has been approved by the council. We are recommending that they re-hear the matter.”
The council has options: It could rescind the agreement, and send a new item back through the legislative process — including a stop at the land use and housing committee. Or it could re-write the item to include a new valuation of the 15-acre property and schedule another vote. The initial item passed unanimously.
Since the lawsuit is being discussed in closed session, we won’t know what they decide until we get closer to Briggs’ Feb. 15 deadline.
I’m Andrew Keatts, a reporter for Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you’d like at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.325.0529 and follow me on Twitter:
Like VOSD on Facebook.
Disclosure: Voice of San Diego members and supporters may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover. For a complete list of our contributors, click here.