by Ed Harris /OB Rag
Last year during my State of the District Address I called upon District Two residents to monitor and weigh in on development projects that came forward but were not resolved while I was in office. One such project is the Belmont Park lease extension. For a primer on the issue you can read an article I wrote about it in September of 2014.
While I was the Councilmember for District Two, it was my duty to protect the taxpayer’s money. When it came to the Belmont Park lease extension, I asked City staff two simple questions: How does the lease extension benefit the taxpayer and how much more will the City make if it extends a lease from 25 years to 55 years? I never received satisfactory answers to either question.
I also had real concerns about whether the City had the legal right to expand the square footage of commercial space at Belmont Park because of Proposition G that was approved by the voters in 1987. Proposition G requires all retail and commercial uses must be inside the Plunge building, so everything else (except roller coaster) is available for free public access. While on the City Council, I asked the City Attorney to provide a written opinion to determine if there were any limitations to the lease extension as it relates to Proposition G. That opinion has yet to be issued.
On January 20, 2015, the Belmont Park issue was to be re-heard at Council. On January 16, 2015, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith issued a memo to Mayor Faulconer and the City Council asking that the item be returned. In his memo, he stated:
“I learned yesterday that our lawyers had provided legal advice on [the Belmont Park] issue to staff who did not follow that advice. I am sure City staff had legitimate reasons, but the consequences are that the City would be assuming certain risks and the transaction is left unclear.”
There was a tremendous sense of urgency by some to get this Belmont Park lease extension pushed through when I was on the City Council. I don’t believe in rushing anything, particularly when taxpayer dollars are at stake. I look forward to learning of the City Attorney’s opinion on the matter and encourage my District Two neighbors to remain engaged on this and other matters that affect our quality of life.
Ed Harris is the former Councilmember for District Two, and a 26-year lifeguard with the City of San Diego.
Originally Posted at OB Rag