Mayoral candidate David Alvarez and his supporters are working overtime to paint opponent Kevin Faulconer as a corporate shill but one piece of evidence they’re pointing to doesn’t add up.
A television ad that debuted late last month highlights Faulconer’s focus on downtown, an area he once represented as a city councilman, and cites his vote against the Property Value Protection Ordinance as an example of his support for corporate subsidies. That measure created a registry of foreclosed homes.
“Take a look at Republican Kevin Faulconer’s record and you’ll know he always puts his downtown friends first,” a voice says before the camera pans to a pile of cash surrounded by a city landscape.
Alvarez wrote the Property Value Protection Ordinance, and he considers it one of his chief legislative accomplishments. The ordinance aims to force banks to take responsibility for foreclosed homes before they become run down and affect nearby property values.
The year-old city law created a database of homes in the foreclosure process and contact information for banks responsible for them so the city can hold those who don’t maintain their properties accountable. Participants pay $76 annually to register and up to $5,000 in fees if they fail to do so.
The Alvarez campaign argues Faulconer’s vote opposing the registry amounts to a corporate subsidy.
Here’s what a spokesman said in a statement:
“The (Property Value Protection Ordinance) vote is just one of many examples of Kevin Faulconer putting corporate interests, in this case big banks, ahead of everyday San Diegans. In this case, Faulconer voted to allow big banks to continue to foreclosing on homes without taking any responsibility for protecting property values. This is a handout to big banks – pure and simple. It was the wrong vote for San Diego homeowners.”
That’s a pretty tenuous connection. The phrase “corporate subsidy” implies the government offered tax breaks, cash or at the very least some advantage a business wouldn’t have otherwise gotten.
In this case, a City Council majority OK’d the creation of a registry that ushered in new fees for banks responsible for homes in the foreclosure process.
Alvarez supporters can reasonably frame Faulconer’s vote as his siding with banks over homeowners. But there’s a big difference between not fining banks – essentially maintaining the status quo – and offering them a “handout.” Had the measure failed, banks wouldn’t have gotten any new money or benefit.
Voting against imposing a new fee on a business isn’t the same as giving that business a corporate subsidy.