Roundtable: Did Sunroad Pay To Play? Will Faulconer Mean Republican Comeback? Longer Runway For Palomar?
Friday, September 27, 2013
Dorian Hargrove, San Diego Reader
Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times
Alison St. John, KPBS News
Did Sunroad Pay To Play?
The choices facing Sunroad Enterprises in its quest to build a mixed-use development near a Kearny Mesa park were not appetizing: City construction rules mandated either a smaller building not so close to the park or expensive fire-proof glass.
Sunroad figured the first option might cost the company close to $8,600 a month. The windows could come to as much as $200,000. But the company didn't want to do either — what they wanted was an exemption, so the company went to work on the San Diego City Council.
Sunroad Vice President Tom Story concentrated on Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, chair of the Land Use and Housing Committee. He emailed Zapf repeatedly about easements and wrote a memo for her to give to her colleagues. Zapf's committee unanimously authorized the easements and weeks later, the council agreed. However, the plan hit a snag.
The mayor vetoed the giveaway of city land and had his deputy broker a deal with Sunroad. On May 23, Sunroad sent checks totaling $100,000 to the mayor’s office for two of his pet projects. Three weeks later, Filner urged the city council to override his veto.
The feds thought this looked like pay-to-play and launched an investigation. The money was returned, but the land, which as of now has cost the company nothing, remains Sunroad’s.
San Diegans for Open Government has sued over the deal, which Sunroad said is protected speech.
SD GOP Wants Comeback PDQ
Unhappy over the loss of the mayor’s office and victor Bob Filner’s putative anti-development, anti-business activities, San Diego’s Republican and business community leaders met the day after the mayor's resignation to choose a candidate to back for the coming mayoral election.
Backing one candidate would avoid a situation like the 2012 mayoral primary where three prominent Republicans were on the ballot. Because of that, Republican votes were split, and Filner was elected.
The two obvious choices for the group were Councilman Kevin Faulconer and Congressional candidate (and losing mayoral candidate) Carl DeMaio. At the meeting, newspaper owner Doug Manchester, who backed DeMaio, insulted former Mayor Jerry Sanders, who favored Faulconer. He eventually apologized.
DeMaio did not opt in the race for mayor, and now Faulconer is the only well-known Republican in a race against three well-known Democrats.
San Diego County Taxiing Toward A Longer Runway For Palomar Airport
A newly completed, 15-month-long feasibility study says extending the runway at McClellan Palomar Airport in Carlsbad by 900 feet would allow direct, intercontinental flights. The planes would not be larger, but they could carry more fuel.
According to the study, a longer runway would actually reduce noise by sending planes over commercial areas, rather than neighborhoods.
The 900-foot runway extension — one of three options detailed in the plan — would cost $95 million, of which $35 million would have to be raised locally. Safety improvements, which are part of all three options, would stop planes from overshooting the runway. The study says revenue and income from jobs would increase as well.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors, which asked for the study, now must contend with opposition and those who dispute the findings of the study.