City Attorney finds gaps in Mayor Filner's effort to remove traffic from Balboa Park's Plaza de Panama
Dorian Hargrove 11:39 a.m., May 23
More than 2700 downtown property owners are still waiting for the city to pay them back for overcharging them on property assessments.
In 2005, city consultant SCI Engineering recalculated the engineer's report. However, the firm miscalculated, overcharging downtown properties anywhere from $32 to $500 extra per year for enhanced city services such as graffiti abatement, sidewalk maintenance, and security guards.
The error was first noticed by property owners in 2009, four years after the city had approved SCI's engineer's report.
Shortly after noticing the mistake, some downtown residents asked the city to notify all the property owners that had overpaid and then issue refunds. A small group of residents began attending council meetings and meetings of the Downtown San Diego Partnership, the agency that manages the improvement district.
In June 2009, Luis Ojeda, program manager for the city's economic development department, informed some residents that a refund check would be issued, and all property owners would be made aware of the mistake.
Neither happened. I wrote a story on their efforts in April of 2010.
On June 14, two years after Ojeda's promise, the city filed a lawsuit against the engineering consultant. The city also paid the new engineering firm, Koppel and Gruber, $50,000 to audit the flawed engineer's report.
Meanwhile, the residents continue to wait and continue to pay their property assessment and wait to find out when and how much they will be refunded.
"I was told that they have to find out if there are any more errors before refunds can be issued," says downtown property owner Kathy Casey. "The audit should give us exact figures of the amount collected in error."
On Tuesday, July 26, city councilmembers will consider renewing the assessment for the Downtown Property and Business Improvement District.