Final approval of an unconventional lease extension wouldn’t have been complete without an unconventional process.

Hotelier Bill Evans got the lease extension for the property under his Bahia Resort Hotel in Mission Bay after a legislative speed bump. The City Council on Tuesday re-approved the lease extension it originally OK’d late last year, after making an update to the agreement.

After the City Council approved the extension in November 2012, the city was threatened with a lawsuit because the deal lacked an up-to-date assessment of the property’s market value.

The city then faced a choice: rescind the previous agreement and replace it with a new one, including a statement of the land’s market value, or simply void the deal altogether.

Specifically, the council had to decide whether to accept a property valuation conducted by an appraiser hired by Evans, or to instruct the city’s real estate assets division to do its own survey of the property.

It ultimately signed off on the new lease extension — with the assessment performed by Evans’ hand-picked appraiser.

But the decision included some moments of intrigue.

First, confusion over whether the city’s real estate assets division was expected to produce its own valuation ahead of the City Council meeting had council members clearly frustrated.

Jim Barwick, executive director of the division, said he hadn’t been instructed by the mayor or the City Council to produce any sort of appraisal.

Councilwoman Marti Emerald pushed the council not to approve the new lease, saying the appraisal needed to be conducted by city staff, not a contracted employee of the hotel owner. Councilman David Alvarez wanted assurances from the city attorney’s office that the privately conducted appraisal was acceptable.

After almost an hour of discussion, Council President Todd Gloria delayed the vote until the end of the day’s agenda to give the city attorney’s office and Barwick time to assess the assessment.

In the end, they decided the appraisal conformed to industry standards.

It’s unclear whether the City Council’s action will be enough to satisfy Cory Briggs, the attorney who threatened the lawsuit.

Even if it does, Briggs has contented the lease extension was illegal for reasons beyond the missing appraisal. He said the extension was also illegal because the property sits on pueblo lands, which restricts it from being subject to a lease of longer than 15 years, and that the lease requires an environmental review under state law. The city attorney’s office told the City Council the latter complaint was unfounded, since the lease didn’t specifically approve any new development.

Correction: An earlier version of this post misspelled Cory Briggs.

I’m Andrew Keatts, a reporter for Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you’d like at or 619.325.0529 and follow me on Twitter:

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Andrew Keatts

I'm Andrew Keatts, a managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at

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