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,”
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.