San Diego Few legislators have had as great an impact on San Diego as former state senator James R. Mills. Recently, in a Coronado café, he sat down for an interview.
Today there is a proposal to the City of San Diego by John Moores's development company to build a Ballpark Village, to build condo towers and retail and other uses. And the port apparently has concerns because of the project's proximity to the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal. If these condos go up, the residents may complain about activity at the marine terminal. What do you think about that?
John Moores has hired Steve Peace. Steve Peace is not cheap. Steve Peace costs a lot of money.
So far John Moores has gotten everything he wanted from the City of San Diego. There's nothing that he's asked for from the city council of San Diego that he hasn't gotten. The cost to the City of San Diego has been enormous. What is he after here? Is he really concerned that people who have bought condominiums in this project of his, or have bought space in this project of his, are in the future going to complain about traffic being moved from the Tenth Avenue terminal? Well, he might be. But I don't think that's a reason to spend a lot of money on Steve Peace. I think a reason to spend a lot of money on Steve Peace is that John Moores presently owns the city council of San Diego. He does not own the Port District. He wants to own the Port District.
Why does he want to own the Port District? I think what he's after is the space of the Tenth Avenue terminal. Seems to me that what makes sense for him to be spending so much money on is that if he can get his hands on the Tenth Avenue terminal space, he could build a few billion dollars' worth of condos there.
There have been reports that Steve Peace has been hired to either decouple the city from the Port District or disband the Port District.
That comes under the heading of common knowledge.
What's your prognosis?
My prognosis is as people figure out what John Moores is up to that he will fail. I am told that Steve Peace is now going from one member of the legislation to another trying to find the author for the bill. It seems to me that members of the legislature from San Diego County will not be able to go along with what appears to be a political power grab on the part of John Moores.
What are your thoughts on the proposed downtown library?
The siting of the library downtown and the determination to build a library downtown right next to all this property that the City of San Diego has given to John Moores at bargain prices -- it's done because John Moores wants it that way. That's why it's being put there. That's not a good place for a library!
Why would John Moores want it down there?
Because having it there means that the property immediately adjacent, which he's planning to develop, he can say, "The library's right here next door." It'll add value to the property that he was given at bargain rates by the city, which is another scam. The library's a scam from the beginning.
So you think the main library shouldn't be built downtown?
I think there is no need for a major library structure downtown. It seems to me that the present library could be repaired and serve as a downtown branch. With the City of San Diego in the financial shape it's in, they should look for some cheap place to put the library's headquarters functions; that is, storage of books, repair of books, continuing all of the electronic functions. Because nowadays, in the age of computers and electronics, these are the most important of library functions. There's no reason to put these things downtown. A cheap warehouse someplace else would work fine, as far as the headquarters functions are concerned.
What about the iconic aspects of having the monument to knowledge and learning?
I think it isn't worth the money.
So why do you think...
Also, this whole thing with Rob Wellington Quigley has been scandalous from the start. Rob Wellington Quigley was retained to design a library at 12th and C Street. He designed a library that was too expensive to build, so they decided not to build it.
Then Rob Wellington Quigley was retained to design a library on the property at Great America Plaza [now One America Plaza], the north half of that property. He designed a library that was much too expensive to build, so the city council decided not to build it. Then the decision was made to build a library down next to the property that was being conveyed to John Moores. And the mayor, Susan Golding, said, "We will have an international competition and invite designers, architects from all over the world to compete." And they had competition from notable architects from all over the world, and one was chosen by the board that had been given this responsibility. And Susan Golding said, "Oh, we don't need to hire somebody from out of town. We can have Rob Wellington Quigley do it."
Why is that?
Because the reason she did everything.
She was a corrupt mayor.
How was she corrupt by urging that Rob Wellington Quigley design her library? How would that be corrupt?
I don't know. But I know that the whole process stank. What did she get from Rob Wellington Quigley, or what did she get from somebody for that? I don't know. What was it about Rob Wellington Quigley that caused her to hire him three times after a body which had been constituted to choose an architect chose somebody else with an international reputation, and the mayor said, "No, we won't do that now, will we? We'll have Rob Wellington Quigley do that." That smells to high heaven.