Comments by BlueSouthPark

Bylaws and sweethearts in Hillcrest

Point 1: The city requires registration by, and business license fees from, anyone conducting any kind of business or performing any kind of work, or earning and reporting on State tax returns any income, at an address, even if the business is freelance, conducted out of a bedroom at home. That address, then, is the legal business address. BIDs have city-approved legal district boundaries: anyone with a business license within the boundary is automatically assessed a BID membership fee on annual renewal of the business license. Point 2: Ben Nicholls has been screwing around with his underhanded games since he arrived in San Diego. Among other questionable activities, he was a participant in the illegal Golden Hill MAD formation and administration. He has left few communities untouched when it comes to looking for money and power: Pacific Beach, Rose Canyon, Golden Hill, South Park, Hillcrest, and, now, Barrio Logan. He supposedly left McFarlane in March 2014; his [LinkedIn][1] profile says he is now the Executive Director of the "[Barrio Art Association][2] (BAA)," whatever that really is. Because it doesn't look like anything real: The website doesn't give much info except to state that 501c status is being sought. Given that Nicholls is paying close attention to the illegally formed Barrio Logan MAD meetings (he's a Facebook friend and he "likes" them!), he's obviously hoping to divert money from the Barrio Logan assessments to his shell BAA. Tens of thousands of dollars are up for grabs from the assessed property owners, for "community identity" signage, for expensive silkscreened logos for every trash can, bench, and banner, for T-shirt designs, etc. Nicholls is very familiar with all of these outlays of money - he observed the game and was part of making sure that friends of the Golden Hill MAD administrators got contracts for similar junk. [1]: [2]:
— June 25, 2014 8:31 p.m.

Construction falters when empty nest refills

Visduh, what offends me is the stealth involved. Of course, for anyone who continually checked the city website postings, the changes to the land use code were visible. But at the Greater Golden Hill Community Plan Update meetings, local residents who are also City employees were purposefully assigned to tables in order to squelch discussion of granny flats. I saw it with my own eyes. I'm not de facto opposed to allowing someone to build a 700-sf living unit in their back yard on a 5000-sf lot. I'd like a studio space added to my house, for my own use, or as a guest house, if I were willing to give up greenery and trees. My observations throughout South Park, however, are that this is mainly being done with tear-downs and rebuilds, and that the purpose is not to provide extra living space for a homeowner, but to provide rental income. That said, getting back to Mr. Bauder's report, some of the renters are adult children or relatives of owners. The companion units I see in my neighborhood have the 50-something "granny and gramps" owning and living in the main house and the 30-something (sometimes divorced) kid renting the granny flat. May I add that the grown kids have degrees in web design, or internet marketing. Sad!!! As long as the granny flat occupants have off-street parking, and don't practice/play in a loud band (some do!), the impact of their presence isn't too obvious. What we do lose is trees and a feeling of openness and privacy, and what the insurers note is increased density. Higher fire and liability insurance rates result, as areas get rezoned by the insurance companies.
— June 13, 2014 6:18 p.m.

Construction falters when empty nest refills

A few years ago, Development Services and the Planning Commission gave realtors and developers what they had long wanted: a code change to land use regs that allows uninhibited addition of 700-sf second units on single-family-zoned lots. Second units are now being built in backyards of lots all over South Park, increasing density without zoning changes. Small homes built in the early 1900s are often torn down, except for one wall, and rebuilt at twice the original square feet, with detached or attached "companion units." FAR variances seem to be freely given. The second units theoretically house family members (the favored PR name for them is "granny" flats), but they are almost always used as rentals. Realtors promote them by suggesting that buyers can afford expensive mortgages by renting the second unit. The local realtors, builders, insurers, and mortgage lenders waged war on former Mayor Dick Murphy when he wouldn't approve the changes that DSD and the Planning Commission have now enacted (revision to Section 141.032). Under Jerry Sanders, the changes were made almost secretly. The changes and ultimate code revision were purposefully discussed not at all, or only in the vaguest way, at the Community Plan Update meetings in the past few years. When the revision was mentioned, the major response of neighborhood property owners was very negative. Any dents in the industries involved in building, selling, financing, and insuring are self-inflicted. They wanted to cram more bodies on existing lots. Jerry Sanders gave them what they wanted.
— June 13, 2014 9:17 a.m.

City can’t drag its heels any longer

There's another error in VoSD's report on the MAD lawsuit: the author stated "The city has 55 of these funding schemes... ." NO! NO, no, no. It does NOT. It has 55 assessment districts of another type, totally distinct in every way, most importantly in their legality. The property owners in Greater Golden Hill were the only property owners, out of 8 other neighborhoods that have the same kind of illegal district, to fight the illegality. So, to report correctly, *"The city [now] has 8 of these funding schemes [remaining]... "* and they are all illegal. Memory Lane/Interesting Facts: San Diego's 8 remaining illegal assessment districts were originally conceived and formed by two stellar locals, once friends but now enemies, darlings of the San Diego Republican/business powerbase in City Hall: Marco Li Mandri and Scott Kessler. Li Mandri seems to have maintained clout at City Hall, despite legal questions, but former Deputy Director of Economic Development Kessler was fired. Li Mandri's own neighborhood (he lives near Jerry Sanders) is probably the only place where he hasn't tried to form an illegal assessment district. Li Mandri has tried to change the terminology of his illegal money-raking districts by calling them "community benefit" districts, loathing to remind people that the districts involve property tax assessments. There is no California state law for "community benefit" districts. Li Mandri's creations are illegal because they mix up, selectively, parts of the laws governing two legal formation processes and restrictions for assessment districts (one for Landscape and Lighting Maintenance Assessment districts, the other for Property-based Business Improvement Districts). Li Mandri has tried to get Vargas and Atkins to pass a new state law for "community benefit" districts: *He wants residential property owners to pay assessments in a district that primarily benefits and is managed by businesses (not legal in PBID law). *He wants residential property owners to pay assessments that can be spent on ANYTHING he calls an "improvement" (not legal in MAD law: the money has to be for a specific capital improvement and its maintenance). *He wants a law that doesn't require 50% of property owners' initial support by petition (PBID law requires this to legally proceed to a ballot). *He wants a law that forms a district with such a long lifetime that few property owners would live long enough to vote again on renewal (PBID law requires a renewal vote after the first 5 years, and every 10 years afterward). His 8 illegal districts in San Diego have NO sunset - they last forever, as do legal MADs and as would have the illegal GGHMAD/PBID hybrid, if not struck down by the court. Good riddance, illegal MAD! It's been educational, however unpleasant. South Park and Golden Hill are looking and doing just fine. We don't need private caretakers dipping into our pockets and running our neighborhoods.
— May 20, 2014 2:57 p.m.

City can’t drag its heels any longer

Dorian Hargrove and The Reader have provided the only *accurate* and *honest* reports on the GGH MAD, in particular, and on MAD procedures and State laws in general. It takes a bit of research to understand what may and may not be done to create the various types of assessment districts, and Mr. Hargrove did the job well. Other local reporting (UT, VoSD) got much of what was at issue quite wrong, or omitted crucial but simple details, and despite comment never corrected what they had written. Given the insider boosterism and privatization scheme support of the entities employing those other reporters, perhaps the bad reporting was intentional. One could see from public comments on those articles that readers were often confused about State assessment laws and their legitimate use, their confusion made worse by what was written. Unfortunately, inaccurate reporting on MADs and PBIDs continues; a recent article in Uptown News on the political unit of Greater Golden Hill (which includes South Park) blurred the distinction between legal (Kensington/Talmadge) and illegal (Golden Hill/South Park) MADs. The Uptown writer scratched his head over how "an area the size of Golden Hill" could manage to exist without a privatization scheme. He conflated the illegal assessment of residential property (Golden Hill) to purchase open-ended lists of goods/events that an administering nonpropfit wanted to buy/undertake, with the formation that is now in progress of a Ken-Tal Landscape and Lighting District (special acorn light installation in the PROW **specially benefiting and adjacent to each property** that would be assessed for capital cost, electricity, and maintenance of the lights). Meanwhile, privatization efforts continue. Todd Gloria, North Park businesses, and the city's Economic Development and City Attorney staffers are proceeding with another privatization scheme, another way to force property owners to pay assessments to a private group. To wit: on the same day that the Golden Hill MAD legal fee payout is docketed, the council will award North Park Main Street (NPMS) $6000 to go toward the ~$34,000 the business group has already obtained in public monies (plus $5000 from J Segal, of the North Parker units). All of the money will go toward creation of an "engineer's" report on the geographic boundaries and the number of properties, at a certain assessment dollar amount, that will be adequate to turn the existing Business Improvement District (BID; fee collected by NPMS only on a business license) into a more lucrative (for NPMS) Property-based Business Improvement District (PBID). Local small-business owners in North Park don't always own the property in which they operate. It'll be interesting to see how the property owner landlords in the targeted location react.
— May 18, 2014 11:22 a.m.

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