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— At one point, 30 to 40 percent of downtown condos were purchased by speculators or out-of-towners, including Zonies and snowbirds, Europeans, Asians, and Mexicans. "Living and walking around downtown, I note all the high-rise condos that I know are completely sold out, but only about one-third of them are ever lit up at night," says Kelly Cunningham, economist for the San Diego Institute for Policy Research. The City gets little in sales taxes, but these part-time residents pay property taxes while not using many public sector services, says Cunningham.

He favors Montgomery development but concedes that the City has let the infrastructure go to hell: "As a downtown resident enduring weak water flows and occasional disruptions, I agree that it would be nice to see failing sewer and water pipes repaired, especially with all the property taxes paid by us downtown residents."

Like all others interviewed, he doubts that Montgomery will be a rerun of downtown redevelopment: homes will probably be sold mainly to those living in San Diego full-time.

But one thing is almost certain: the Montgomery project will be sold to the public as affordable housing. "They say they will build workforce housing, but they never do," says Damashek.

The big question: will pilots and environmentalists block the project in court? Some are working on it now.

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