Plaintiffs seek community benefits and oversight of public funds
Editor Note: SDFP readers have requested more information about the legal complaint filed by the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council and Dr. Murtaza Baxamusa, a CivicSD Boardmember. We are providing their news release and a link to the complete filing below without analysis at this time.
CONTACT: Steven Coopersmith: (619) 238-7360| firstname.lastname@example.org
SAN DIEGO, CA – A legal complaint was filed April 10th in the San Diego Superior Court against Civic San Diego (CivicSD) and the City of San Diego by the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council and Dr. Murtaza Baxamusa, a CivicSD Boardmember and advocate of working families.
The City of San Diego has outsourced planning and permitting responsibilities connected to low-income and downtown San Diego communities to CivicSD, a private, non-profit corporation. Currently, the City of San Diego is the only city in the entire state of California to outsource its responsibilities for planning and community development to a private, non-governmental entity. In California, it is currently in dispute as to whether a City can lawfully delegate planning and permitting to a private entity. Over a billion dollars of public taxpayer funds and resources have been expended to support CivicSD, private developers and their projects.
The Petitioners are requesting legal declarations from the Superior Court which clarify the duties and responsibilities between the City of San Diego and CivicSD in regard to economic and community development. The legal complaint also seeks by its lawsuit to create public transparency over public-private development, safeguard taxpayers with oversight of public resources, and establish a baseline of community benefits for development derived from public resources.
“Presently, CivicSD operates without accountability to the City Council, and thus without accountability to the taxpayers whose dollars it spends. Additionally, questions have been raised about potential conflicts of interest between private developers, CivicSD boardmembers, and the stewardship of public resources in the best interest of San Diego communities,” said Dr. Baxamusa. “Transparency, oversight, and accountability of CivicSD activities must be established if the entity is to continue to exist.”
The complaint states “if the City Council chooses to delegate its permitting and planning duties, then it likewise has an obligation to San Diego taxpayers to properly define and oversee the activities of CivicSD in order to hold the nonprofit accountable to the members of the community it purports to benefit.”
The Petitioners also seek a legal declaration that when public resources are expended on private development, community benefits should result. Tom Lemmon, Business Manager of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council, declared that “private-public partnerships should be mutually beneficial to developers, contractors, tenants, taxpayers, and communities. If CivicSD continues to use public resources for planning and development, it should provide meaningful benefits to local communities. CivicSD should adopt to a Community Benefits Policy with defined goals for affordable housing development, creation of local good-paying jobs, and investments in community infrastructure.”
Neither of the plaintiffs are seeking financial gain or awards through the filed complaint. Rather, the Petitioners seek to obtain judicial declarations concerning: (1) the scope and oversight of CivicSD; (2) conflicts of interest inherent and internal to CivicSD; (3) the entitlement to a community benefits plan; and (4) the entitlement to a formal appeals process for decisions made by CivicSD.
Editor Note: This is a listing of prior SDFP articles about Civic San Diego
Civic San Diego–Like a Hole in the Head Norma Damashek, April 14, 2015
Civic San Diego and the One Minute Citizen Anna Daniels, March 27, 2015
Civic San Diego and Its Stakeholders Anna Daniels, March 17, 2015
The Morphing of Civic San Diego and the Need for City Council Oversight Anna Daniels, March 13, 2015
Community Blight or Benefit:Thoughts on the Civic San Diego Roadshow Jay Powell, April 4, 2015
Civic San Diego and Community Benefits Agreements: The Need for Project Specific Focus, Jim Bliesner, January 28, 2015
How will Civic San Diego Serve Neighborhoods? Jim Bliesner, January 5, 2015
What Does City Heights Lose When Albertsons Closes? Anna Daniels, January 22, 2014
From Redevelopment to Civic San Diego Economic Development: A New Name and the Same Old Game? Anna Daniels, December 5, 2012