Walter Mencken 3:39 p.m., June 18
People vs. Parking Garage
Another lawsuit filed against financing plan for parking garage behind Organ Pavilion.
San Diegans for Open Government, the government watchdog group, is not backing down from a fight over a new four-story parking garage proposed for Balboa Park.
The pay-for-parking garage will cost approximately $22.4 million when all is said and done.
In a deal with Irwin Jacobs's- funded Plaza de Panama Committee, the City is responsible for the cost of the garage. But the only way the cash-strapped City can afford to live up to its side of the bargain is to issue $17.4 million in public improvement bonds, referred to as the Spreckel's Organ Pavilion Public Parking Garage Lease Revenue Bonds.
City officials say the bonds will be paid by revenue from the parking garage. But if those revenues fall short, then the City, more like the taxpayers, will be on the hook.
Despite that, the City has decided to move forward with issuing the bonds through the Public Facilities Financing Authority, a joint powers agreement comprised of the City, the sucessor to the former redevelopment agency--otherwise known as the city council, and the newly appointed San Diego Housing Authority.
The lawsuit filed by San Diegans for Open Government on November 30 claims that at the time of the bond approval the redevelopment agency nor its successor had the power to issue bonds. And in doing so, the action not only violates state law but also Section 99 of City's own municipal code which prohibits any new debt that exceeds revenue in that given year without a vote from the people.
"City's use of [the Public Facilities Financing Authority] to issue the bond approvals, instead of the City issuing the bonds in its own name, is an artifice designed solely to circumvent the voter-assent requirement of Section 99," reads the lawsuit.
The recent decision to add the housing authority to the joint powers agreement doesn't change matters, says attorney for San Diegans for Open Government, Cory Briggs. "They came in afterward, and they have no bonding authority for non-housing projects. This is a shell game."