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Roundtable: Money And The Mayor’s Race, Convention Center Vote, Development Developments



Alison St. John


Joe Yerardi, inewsource

Tony Perry, LA Times

Andrew Keatts, Voice of San Diego


Money And The Mayor's Race

The race for cash in San Diego's special mayoral election is turning into a real horse race and now, we know just how furious is it. The four major candidates and the many independent political committees established to support their candidacies have raised nearly $2.5 million since the race started in late August, according to financial disclosures filed yesterday with the San Diego City Clerk.

The disclosure deadline — the first of three scheduled for before the Nov. 19 election — showed that Councilman David Alvarez and allied committees held a commanding lead with greater than $1 million raised by his campaign and various independent committees that support his candidacy.

Former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher surged ahead of Councilman Kevin Faulconer in this, the first comprehensive financial report of the campaign. Fletcher and the independent committee that supports him reported raising a total of $773,000 compared with $637,000 raised by Faulconer and an independent committee backing him.

Trailing far behind was former City Attorney Mike Aguirre. He reported raising only $3,385, including $1,500 from himself.

The Commission And The Convention Center

On Thursday, the California Coastal Commission convened in San Diego to decide whether the city can make room for more conveners in its waterfront convention center.

The commission voted unanimously to approve the city's $520-million (plus or minus some tens of millions, depending on what's included and when construction starts) plan to expand the center. The project, which commission staff had earlier vetoed, includes adding 740,000 square feet of space to the current 2.6 million and a 5-acre rooftop park.

There is already one lawsuit in progress. More are likely.

The city's biggest concern was Comic-Con. The convention has exploded in size, popularity and economic power since its nerdy beginning as a gathering of 300 comic book fans in 1970. About 130,000 tickets for the four-day event sold out this year in less two hours. At the jam-packed venue, hordes of costumed Klingons, zombies and Iron Men elbowed and jostled for space with the crew of the Starship Enterprise and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

While Comic-Con wants a bigger venue, the San Diego Chargers want a newer and nicer one. The team is no longer comfortable in its aging digs in Mission Valley. The Chargers have proposed an additional convention center-slash-stadium blocks away from the current one.

The city said the new space must be connected to the old space. The Chargers beg to differ, and the team, which didn’t get a lot of attention during the Filner months, has the option to leave at the end of each season. So far they haven't exercised it.

Small Developers Getting Things Done

Development projects in San Diego suburbs like Carmel Valley can be huge: houses and town homes as far as the eye can see, separate and sometimes secluded from each other.

But there are smaller projects in San Diego’s denser urban core that are being designed and built by a new breed of developer with young, urban renters in mind.

Many of the new urban developments come from a team composed of both architects and developers and are designed to push people together. This idea of living together versus walling oneself off from one's neighbors means smaller projects in already-developed areas. It also allows for more individuality and less mass production in rental units.

These teams take a small area, perhaps incorporating an existing building in the design. They then build as much as zoning will allow before the construction of a parking lot is mandated or a review by the local planning group kicks in and then call it a day.

San Diego Architect Ted Smith has very strong views on community planning groups. These neighborhood groups, he said, don’t really represent the communities they serve. If one member of a planning group has issues with a project, the conventional wisdom becomes that the entire community doesn’t like it. Smith said community planning groups represent the private interests of individual people.

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