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Pundits: Sanders' Sunroad Backpedal is Evidence He's Too Cozy

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders has dramatically reversed his position on a controversial office tower under construction at Montgomery Field. The about-face comes at the end of a week of outrage and qu

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders has dramatically reversed his position on a controversial office tower under construction at Montgomery Field. The about-face comes at the end of a week of outrage and questions regarding how the city could have allowed developer Sunroad to construct a building the FAA says is a hazard to people on the ground and flying in and out. Full Focus Reporter Amita Sharma has more.

The city went into damage control mode this week after an investigative series appeared in the Union Tribune.

The series focused on how the city missed chances to ensure that Sunroad complied with FAA height rules by building to 160 feet, not 180 feet, and in turn exposed taxpayers to a credible lawsuit by the developer. The public reacted with outrage and directed it toward Sanders. And after months of virtual silence on the issue, the mayor spoke out about the Sunroad project.

Sanders : It should have been stopped when it went up to 180 feet but I think that's one of the cracks that this slipped between when they put on 20 additional feet on top of a building that was safe at 160 feet.

Even though the city attorney's office conducted an investigation of the matter, issued a report, and sued Sunroad to lower the height of the building, Sanders says he wants to do his own review.

Sanders : What we're doing is working very hard with our staff to determine how we got here. It's my job to take responsibility for that and in that way while I'm not embarrassed, I'm certainly interested in making sure we never get into this position again.

Sanders plans to send a letter to the FAA and Caltrans admitting that the city bungled its end of the approval process for the Sunroad building. Meanwhile, political watchers say the project is a textbook case of San Diego's historically cozy relationship with developers. Sanders accepted $3,600 in campaign contributions from Sunroad.

Sanders : Unless you can self-fund a candidacy and I don't have a million and a half to run for mayor, you'd have to go out to a variety of people in San Diego and ask them to support your running for office -- and I have 5,500 individual donors throughout San Diego who I think felt I would be the best mayor. So, they don't have any influence at 300 dollars apiece, and I can guarantee you that.

Reaction to Sanders decision is mixed. Councilwoman Donna Frye, whose district includes Montgomery Field and the Sunroad project called the mayor's turnabout a “May Miracle.”

Guests

  • Ruben Navarrette, Tanya Mannes, Jennifer Vigil , all from the San Diego Union Tribune.