The San Diego City Council Tuesday confirmed Mayor Todd Gloria’s selection of a developer to revamp the Sports Arena area, making way for its proposal to rebuild the arena and build over 4,000 new homes in the Midway community.
The team was selected over two other development groups, and the selection was complicated ahead of the meeting over reporting from the Union-Tribune and La Prensa last week over a donation two years ago from the developer to a committee supporting Gloria’s mayoral election, and over past lawsuits against the developer that it had not disclosed when it bid on the opportunity.
Those accusations figured prominently among public commenters before the vote, but the City Council fixed its attention on other aspects of the transaction. The sharpest line of questioning came from Councilman Raul Campillo, who was the lone vote against the project.
He interrogated members of the development team over the arena developer’s experience leading projects this large, allegations of wage theft from contractors who had worked for the group in charge of affordable housing in the project, the use of a complex tax subsidy arrangement to upgrade infrastructure near the property and the proposal’s lack of attention to childcare for future residents.
Before voting against the project, he said the proposal’s reliance on round numbers for the homes it includes – 4,250 overall and 2,000 with price controls – indicated it was a vague promise rather than a realistic proposal based on firm analysis.
Campillo also took issue with repeated assurances throughout the meeting that the Council’s vote merely selected the developer to begin formal negotiations, and was not a final decision. City staff reiterated that the Council could approve a final development agreement after the city had completed an environmental analysis, in 18 months to two years.
Realistically, he said, once the city devotes time and energy to one team and the other bidders move on, the city will not be incentivized to walk away from a deal and start over in two years.
“It matters to me not just what you can propose but what you can deliver, and not just what you promise but what your track record is,” he said.
The Council’s approval included the caveat that its independent budget analyst be allowed to sit in on negotiations between city staff and the developer – based on a request from Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe – and that the developer and staff provide quarterly updates to City Council and the developer provide quarterly updates to the community.
County Supes Approve Hand Off of 120-bed Treatment Facility
County supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to acquire a 120-bed treatment facility in National City as part of a settlement with Volunteers of America Southwest.
Voice’s Will Huntsberry revealed last year that the nonprofit that had long been a crucial county contractor had been caught siphoning money to family members of a chief executive, among other financial misdeeds. More recently, the organization agreed to hand off its facility as part of a settlement with the county. County officials had previously demanded millions of dollars in repayment from VOASW after auditors determined the charity was misusing funds and couldn’t account for much of its spending.
Chair of the Board of Supervisors Nathan Fletcher’s office wrote in a statement after the Tuesday board vote that the county plans to open a new alcohol and drug treatment facility there.
Luke Bergmann, the county’s behavioral health services director, said Tuesday that county staff will explore how to expedite what is usually a months-long bidding process to try to offer services at the National City facility sooner rather than later. The county expects to close escrow on the property in November.
The cancellation of the county’s contract with VOASW had previously led to the loss of a substantial number of the county’s addiction treatment beds.
– County Supervisor Joel Anderson is calling for the county to consider pursuing a memorandum of understanding with a key foundation and cities along the San Diego River to address homelessness in riverbed areas. In a Monday memo to county staff, Anderson noted that the San Diego River Park Foundation has counted more than 355 homeless residents staying along the riverbed and suggested looking into whether a state encampment resolution grant “may assist with clean-up efforts along the riverbed and provide services and support to those in need.”
In Other News
- 10 News reported on Mayor Todd Gloria’s Tuesday announcement that the city’s Mission Valley safe parking lot for people living in vehicles is now open 24 hours a day. The expanded hours follow a June City Council vote and a request from Gloria to provide around-the-clock hours.
- The Humane Society is waiving adoption fees for dogs over seven months old through Sunday due to “rapidly filling shelter space,” Times of San Diego reports.
- Vista High School’s head football coach has been placed on leave as sheriff’s deputies continue to investigate a “physical altercation” in a locker room, 10 News reports.
- The Union-Tribune spotlights homeless-serving nonprofit Solutions for Change, which is aiming to raise nearly $5 million to restart a residential program it ended two years ago amid frustration over federal funding mandates.
The Morning Report was written by Andrew Keatts and Lisa Halverstadt. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.