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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."

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Comments

Visduh Dec. 7, 2012 @ 8:35 p.m.

These obstructionists! Why won't they just go along with (and get along with) Irv Jacobs plan to make Balboa Park world class? The park is old and down at the heels and needs to be modernized along the lines of something in New York City. Moreover, the city needs a facility like the one he envisions to really pull in the tourists. Who cares if the city loses a few bucks a year on the garage? After all, it pumps millions into the Padres and the Chargers every year and nobody (well, almost nobody, except the obstructionists) complains.

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Vincent Dec. 15, 2012 @ 4:34 p.m.

First, it's IRWIN Jacobs, not Irving Jacobs, so you can't call him "Irv" for short--especially if you don't even know him well enough to know what his first name actually is!

Secondly, one of the main reasons people object to the plan is that they want to keep to park open to all the people of San Diego. A substantial proportion of the park's current visitors don't feel they can afford to pay $5 (or more...) for parking every time they want to drop by the park that is supposed to belong to ALL of the people--not just the ones who can afford to pay for parking or valet service each time they visit. If such a charge is imposed, the more wealthy among us can look forward to a much less-crowded Balboa, Park, without all the undesirable riff-raff that can't afford the parking expense. But a lot of us are opposed to that sort of park "improvement."

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