SOHO Urges Council to Vote No

The following letter was crafted for Councilmembers by Save our Heritage Organisation, who serves to protect the region's architectural and cultural heritage. You can view the full document here.

Councilmembers,

Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) understands that CIVIC San Diego, an entity that has recently been stripped of its authority, has moved forward with a sale agreement for 6901-6921 Linda Vista Road, which is a historically designated resource and home to the beloved Skateworld, a unique and rare San Diego amenity. SOHO supports the Linda Vista community in requesting the sale agreement to Pacifica Companies be denied and to return this item back to CIVIC San Diego with direction to hold an open and transparent bidding process that involves community stakeholders.

Designated historic in 2011 under Criteria A and C, this resource is both a special element of the community and architecturally significant (see attached). Further, Skateworld is perhaps the best use for this portion of the building, and it is in the best interest of the historical resource, the Linda Vista community, and the County of San Diego for this use to continue, which should be part of the larger conversation regarding the sale of this property.

SOHO urges the Council to listen to the Linda Vista community, recognize the uniqueness and rarity of this historical resource, as well as the best use as Skateworld, and vote no on the sale agreement today.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment,

(Signed) Bruce Coons, Executive Director

Save Our Heritage Organisation

Save Skateworld Updates

Thank you all for the time you’ve spent contacting Councilmembers, reaching out to the community, and getting involved with our events. There have been a number of developments over the past week, which I’d like to share with you today. For starters, near the end of March, the following letter signed by Linda Vista representatives was sent to Councilmember Sherman.

Dear Councilmember Sherman,

We are writing to ask you not to approve the sale of the Skateworld property to Pacifica Companies for the reasons outlined below. As representatives of the Linda Vista community, elected by our general membership, we have serious concerns about the process followed by Civic San Diego to collect bids. It lacked transparency, local awareness, and has resulted in a decision thatthe residents of Linda Vista almost unanimously oppose.

Article 1, Section 3b(l) of the California Constitution reads that "The people have the right of access to information concerning the conduct of the people's business, and, therefore, the meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials shall be open to public scrutiny." We feel these rights were not respected in the process of soliciting offers for the sale of the Skateworld property.

On April 25, 2018, a memo was presented at Civic San Diego's monthly board meeting, regarding the decision to re-designate the Skateworld parcel from "Future Development" to "Sale of Property", within the next two weeks. The marketing of the sale was awarded to Jones LaSalle, a real estate firm whom Civic has contracted with in the past.

On August 9, 2018, Corey Pahanish, the Executive Director of Bayside Community Center, contacted Jeff Zinner from Civic San Diego regarding the sale of the property on behalf of an interested local investor. Mr. Zinner referred Corey to the real estate agent for any other questions, but informed him that the deadline to submit bids had passed on June 28, 2018. The real estate agent confirmed to Linda Vista Town Council Board President John Nielsen that he had been given a list of organizations he had to contact to market the sale of the property. Although we don't know who was on the list, we know that the civic bodies and community centers of Linda Vista were not, as we received no notification. In a span of two months, a property under Civic San Diego's management since 2012, one of the most valuable real estate assets in Linda Vista due to its location, went from not for sale to no longer accepting bids.

We understand that the City is bound by dissolution law to sell the property to the developer with the bid that will generate the most revenue for Affected Tax Entities. However, because of the lack of information regarding the sale of the property, we are concerned that potential bidders were excluded, bidders who may have put forth proposals that would have better allowed the City to meet its legal obligation, and proposals that may be more in line with community desires. And although we understand that you are legally bound to not consider what a developer plans to do with the property, we are disheartened that our community was largely kept in the dark about the sale of the property, ignoring the ability for local stakeholders to work with investors to put forth a competitive offer.

We are urging you, as Linda Vista's representative on the city council, to defend our community's right to access information related to public business taking place in our neighborhood and ability to participate in public processes. We feel that these rights were not respected. We are asking for your "no" vote on the sale of the Skateworld property to Pacifica Companies, returning the matter to Civic San Diego to hold an open, transparent bidding process that involves community stakeholders.

Thank you for supporting Linda Vista.

(signed) John Nielsen Board President, Linda Vista Town Council, on behalf of the LVTC Board of Directors Howard Wayne Vice Chair, Linda Vista Planning Group, on behalf of the LVPG Board of Directors Corey Pahanish Executive Director, Bayside Community Center


In return, a thorough analysis was published by the Office of the City Attorney. You can read their ten page memorandum here. In conclusion:

As two alternatives to approving the proposed Purchase Agreement during the April 8 Council meeting, the Council could direct staff to undertake a further competitive bidding process in an effort to yield a higher purchase price for the Property, or the Council could direct staff to pursue redeveloping the Property as a future development site. If the Property is pursued as a future development site, the City must conduct an open, competitive process to redevelop the Property consistent with applicable land use regulations and the Management Plan, which envisions a potential shopping center with a mix of retail, commercial services, and community-serving uses. However, this approach could result in a loss to the General Fund and would not guarantee that Skateworld or any other current business tenant would be able to continue operating its business on the Property.”


The Council’s vote will take place on April 8th 2019. You can download the official docket here for more information. Please RSVP to join us at Council Chambers when the fate of Skateworld will be decided. We are also hosting a gathering for all communities affected at Skateworld on Sunday April 7th.


“In essence, CivicSD’s board operates without accountability to the City Council, and thus without accountability to the taxpayers whose dollars it spends,”

- Lawsuit filed by Steven T. Coopersmith

Shortly after receiving the City Attorney’s memo, we learned that Civic San Diego, the planning agency responsible for the Skateworld bidding process, is being stripped of it’s authority over city projects. This news comes after a settlement was reached between the City of San Diego and Murtaza Baxamusa, a former Civic San Diego board member, who sued the agency. His lawsuit aimed to clarify Civic San Diego’s responsibilities and potential conflicts of interest. While this is a step in the right direction, the decision will not affect our fight to save Skateworld.

Letters From Our Readers

“For my 30th birthday my husband gifted me a pair of pink quads since I wanted to take up skating as a hobby, and with Skateworld being the only rink in San Diego, this has become my home away from home over the last three years. I know many others have deeper ties to this rink that go way back, but whether you're a newbie or grew up here, I think we can all agree that Skateworld is worth saving for those that enjoy it now and future generations that have yet to discover the joy of skating.” -Brittney Garbani

“My daughter just began to up her game in Artistic Rollerskating. This is her sport since she was 4. She’s now 8. The closure of this rink would prevent many local skaters from practicing and competing and advancing in their sport. I began rollerskating again at the rink too. This rink unites the community. It’s not a relic of the past. Roller skating never died with the 80s. It’s here to stay and we have to make that happen. Save our rink!” -Monica Strickland

“My mom was an award-winning artistic skater for 12 years. She got me skating. I got my daughter skating, in roller derby. Skateworld is the last place my mom, daughter and I skated together before my mom died. The day after my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she said to me from her hospital bed, ‘Make sure Gary Stang gets my skate portrait. He asked me for it.’

Five months before she died, my mom got to watch me skate (in a roller derby game) one more time on Mother's Day. When my mom was wheeled into Skateworld San Diego, she was chocked up to see her skate portrait on display in the entrance. Then my opponents from Skateworld, who I was about to play against, came up to my mom and greeted her. She felt so important. 

To top it off, my mom got to watch as my opponents gave me the award as Most Valuable Player. Honestly, I don't think I deserved it but San Diego Roller Derby knew it would be the last time my mom would watch me skate. They made her last Mother's Day on this earth, the best and something my daughter and I will never forget. That is the kind of harmony and love that comes out of Skateworld. 

The legendary Thunderbird John Hall, who I used to watch play roller derby as a kid, watched me compete that day. He is a coach at Skateworld. That is the kind of quality coaching that Skateworld has. He sat with my mom that day, treating her like the celebrity. Skateworld also hosted my mom's memorial blood drive after she died. Thank you Skateworld San Diego! I pray your priceless value will be seen.

SaveSkateworld_Roller_Derby_Girls

After a roller derby game at Skateworld San Diego, a woman approached our team and said she brought a dying man there because it was his dream to watch a live roller derby game before he died. She asked if a couple skaters would take a photo with him. We said, ‘A couple? No. We all will.’ Our team and our opponents gathered around the man. He also got to meet the legendary Thunderbird John Hall, who he had been a big fan of, and he got in the photo as well. The man cried and smiled so much! I never felt prouder to be a skater and to be a part of Skateworld than I did that day.” -Adrienne A. Aguirre

“When I heard the news that Skateworld might close, my heart sunk! This can not be!! I've been skating here for years! There's nothing else like this place in San Diego. This rink is an asset to the neighborhood and to all the people that come and keep coming back year after year, long timers bringing their kids and grandkids! Skateworld has occupied a special place in so many skaters hearts with its familiar fun atmosphere, people of all ages and from all areas in San Diego as well as out-of-towners!! So many memories of Skateworld and so much more time to create so many more memories for our future generation. The skating community will be absolutely devastated if SkateWorld closes. Please save Skateworld!” -Lisa Parker

There’s still plenty of time to share your story here.

Our letter to Councilmembers, City Attorney Mara W. Elliott & Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

Today we are writing to express our support for Skateworld and opposition of the property sale to Pacifica Companies. Skateworld has been a place that has served the community of Linda Vista since 1975 and remains as a safe space for children, families, and friends to have fun, bond, exercise, and build community in an underserved neighborhood. Additionally, Skateworld’s strong community roots provide ongoing support to countless organizations such as local schools of all ages, non-profits, LGBTQ+ support groups, Girl Scouts of America, Military active service members & veterans, disabled adults & children, memorial benefits, YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs, regional adult night, roller derby, just to name a few.

The Skateworld roller rink at 6907 Linda Vista Road, a City-designated historic property, is currently the last remaining roller rink in all of San Diego County, serving as the only local hub for the roller skating community.  Over 15,000 people have signed a petition to Save Skateworld and to oppose the sale to Pacifica Companies who intends to build a Target or similar big box store at this site. Our grassroots community campaign, Save Skateworld, is growing daily because the public recognizes the importance of preserving this historic business in its current use. 

Our understanding is that Skateworld submitted a bid to Civic San Diego to acquire the property.  However, Skateworld’s bid was not selected by Civic San Diego.  We request that the results of the bid be made public as soon as possible.

We recognize that this City-designated historic property was acquired by Linda Vista’s redevelopment agency some time ago.  The goal of redevelopment agencies was to benefit underserved communities.  The sale of this community asset to Pacifica Companies will eliminate multiple locally-owned businesses, including some who have served Linda Vista for decades. This is not in the spirit of why redevelopment agencies were created.  

We’ve been informed by the city that the property must be sold to the highest bidder under current state law.  In this case, the community of Linda Vista and roller sport communities of San Diego county will be losing a valuable resource and last remaining roller rink.  We request a thorough and publicly-accessible legal analysis by the City Attorney to ensure that the spirit of redevelopment is not being thrown out the window. If necessary, we request the City of San Diego use their best efforts to work with the state legislature to help solve this particular case.

In the meantime, we asked that the City Council not take action on this item until a thorough and publicly-accessible legal analysis by the City Attorney’s office is conducted. We look forward to working with you in a solution that will rightfully serve our community.

 Thank You,

Natalie Ven and Haley Hauck

SaveSkateworld.com

Skateworld Rally Signs

Just look at this generation of skaters! When I asked if they had something to say about their rink and the possibility of it being taken away, this is just a fraction of what they had to say. Strong and powerful words from some very strong and powerful kids. These derby kids are born tough and not afraid to fight for what they love. Not afraid to fight for what is right!
— Danica Doherty Arnold
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The system is broken. It’s time to speak up.

“We want to keep you updated as more “news” comes in; to make sure you are getting information from the people who have spent the last year fighting tooth and nail to keep our building.

When Scott Sherman spoke to KUSI yesterday he sounded logical and reasonable. Mr Sherman stated in his interview that this land “would be sold to the highest bidder” citing legal risk to the City, and that bidding process was “put out to bid in a fair, open, and legal manner.”

The problem with his statement is that it is COMPLETELY FALSE!

In fact, when we first met with Scott last year, he seemed optimistic about our chances of winning the bid. He told us that in the bid selection process land use would be heavily-considered, not only the offering price. In fact, he even shared that he knew of a similar project that had been chosen due to its use and not because of the price tag, stating that it had sold for 600k less than the highest bid!


The truth about the bidding process is that it was not open, it was BLIND; there was no price tag. What we were told is that we were one of the top three bidders and that all three bids would be put in front of City Council, and left for them to decide on a project. THIS DID NOT HAPPEN. We were prepared to and would have kept bidding, but the bidding process stopped abruptly and Pacifica Companies was declared the winner. Meanwhile, we were left out to dry without any explanation. No deadlines or other “rules” were followed - we were set up to fail.

In hindsight we are left only with the information that Civic San Diego, the agency responsible for selling our land, is mired in a series scandals; that Civic’s own employees accused leadership of conflicts of interest and failures to follow contracting policies, including attempts to award contracts without a proper competitive bidding process.

Once the new buyers had been chosen, we were informed that they had no interest in keeping us as tenants. As if it wasn’t difficult enough to try to process the thought of potentially losing your life-long family business, a Target representative then came in and showed our general Manager, Brett, renderings of the buildings and callously asked him if he wanted a job when the new Target came in! Brett - a guy who has given his entire life to roller skating, a member of Team USA roller derby, a National champion jam skater, a coach, mentor, and life blood of this roller skating community – did he want to work at the generic big box store in the same location where he used to crawl around in diapers, with roller skates on his feet to slow him down?!

Skateworld benefits the community and beyond. Does a big box store benefit Linda vista? No! It will wipe out all the surrounding businesses and gentrify the entire area. How many small businesses have to be run out of town before the City stops and checks themselves?! Ultimately, what Scott Sherman did is throw away the interests of the local businesses and community members he claims to represent by choosing to support big box developers. How can a person who represents a community, and claims to care, not fight for a community asset that is a thriving social-gathering place!?

The system is broken. And the only way to fix it is if someone can find a “legal” reason why City Council should vote NO. We’ve been trying for the last year to figure out a way to stay, but the deck is stacked and no one in the city is on our side.

Help us fight! Let’s figure out what Civic SD and the City did to make up their own rules and sell off city/state land without notifying anyone in the community of the plans or explain the sale.” -FB

From The Stang Family with a heavy heart.

“It is with a heavy heart that we enlist the help of each of you. After almost a year of privately fighting to buy the property we reside on, we are coming forward to enlist your help to keep us here for the next generation of skaters. Our building is being quietly sold off to the highest bidder, with no input from the community.

The property and building Skateworld has occupied for the past 45 years is owned by the City of San Diego. We were elated to find out last year that the City was interested in selling the property and thought we would FINALLY have an opportunity to take full ownership and give the rink the upgrades it deserves. However, much to our dismay, the City enlisted Civic San Diego - known for its questionable sales of city property and scandals big enough to wipe out its leadership - to handle the sale. Sadly, we were not given the first chance to buy at fair market value; instead, Civic chose to open it up to the public and sell to the highest bidder. In response, we enlisted local Linda Vista resident-investors to help gather the funds we needed to go all-in on our beloved building. After several rounds of bidding, we were told a company named Pacifica had beaten us by a very small margin. Pacifica is a development company without ties to the Linda Vista community. Their goal is to replace Skateworld with a big box store. This will not only affect Skateworld, but will disrupt the entire community and cause the surrounding small businesses to either close or lose a significant customer base. How could Civic San Diego pick a developer who will tear the community apart with a big box store when they easily could have chosen a longstanding member of the local Linda Vista business community willing to match the sale price?!

Over 50 thousand people have rolled through our doors in 2019 so far! Community members take part in general admission skates, themed skates, birthday parties, and roller sports. We have had fun times, hard falls, first dates, break ups, proposals, and so much more in this beautiful historically-designated building. Children and adults from all over San Diego county have relied on us to provide a safe and fun place to come for exercise and entertainment for over 44 years! Yet since 2002, the City has only offered us AT BEST a month to month lease. Since that time we have had to continually spend time and money fighting off redevelopment and now Civic; wasting resources we would much rather reinvest in the community through our beloved multigenerational family business.

On March 18th the sale of our building is going in front of City Council for approval. We ask you to contact your local city council person and request that they delay the sale and really examine the questionable practices of Civic San Diego. Give us the opportunity to buy it!

In the meantime, come roller skate. We are open for Public Skate sessions, birthday bookings, and private events. Please join our Facebook group Save Skateworld San Diego for updates, join us at a community meeting here at Skateworld on March 11th at 6pm, and help us March 18th at City Hall to SAVE SKATEWORLD!!”