San Diego City Council candidate Barry Pollard is operating his human resources business without a city license and owes the state more than $7,000 in corporate taxes and fees.

Pollard, who’s running in the District 4 special election, has touted his business experience during the campaign, calling himself a “businessman” on the official ballot and discussing his company in a recent CityBeat profile.

Running a business without a license is a misdemeanor, according to city code.

Pollard told Voice of San Diego this week his company, People Solutions, is “sort of on hold.” He recruits engineers, marketers and sales people for power supply companies.

“I get paid when I close some deals,” Pollard said. “The last part of last year I had a very, very good quarter. I’m running on that. I have some savings, but we haven’t tapped into that yet.”

The state suspended Pollard’s corporation in 2009 because of unpaid taxes, according to a spokesman for the Franchise Tax Board. Pollard now owes the state $7,311 in back taxes, penalties and accrued interest.

The city canceled Pollard’s business license last year because of unpaid fees. Ricardo Ramos, a city business tax manager, said Pollard stopped paying the city in 2011. Ramos said city rules prohibit him from disclosing how much Pollard owes.

Pollard said he believed he was working to resolve all of these issues.

He used to have employees, but after the economic recession, his company shrank to one employee: Pollard. He switched People Solutions from a corporation to a sole proprietorship, which doesn’t need a state license, and said he is paying the state the money he owes in installments. (A Franchise Tax Board spokeswoman she couldn’t disclose if Pollard was making payments, and Pollard hasn’t yet provided documentation to support his claim.)

He said he didn’t know he had a problem with city licensing. Businesses in the district have told him they’ve had similar troubles with permitting.

“What I think is I may be, and I’m not saying that I am, but I might be falling into that same lack of coordination and lack of the right hand talking to the left hand downtown,” he said.

Scott Ehrlich, a professor at California Western School of Law, said Pollard’s situation is common around the state. When businesses close or give up their corporate status, they often have unpaid fees, he said.

“It’s not a big deal,” Ehrlich said. “It’s just sloppy.”

Pollard has had financial troubles before. In 1992, he filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which restructures debt rather than eliminating it. The bankruptcy was dismissed three years later. Pollard said he was going through a divorce at the time.

Pollard said his own financial difficulties shouldn’t disqualify him from a council seat.

“I think being on this end of it increases my sensitivity to people staying on top of it, as well as the city,” he said.

He said he planned to call the city and the state to discuss the status of his business.

“No one likes hearing these surprises,” he said.

Pollard first ran for council in 2010, and lost to incumbent Tony Young, who has since resigned to lead the local chapter of the Red Cross. Pollard worked on redistricting issues in 2011 and has been considered a favorite to replace Young. Eight other candidates are running to finish Young’s term, which expires in 2014. The primary is March 26.

Liam Dillon is a news reporter for Voice of San Diego. He covers how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at or 619.550.5663.

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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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