Danielle Falknor 6:30 p.m., March 11
City Attorney's one-eighty on Sunroad. Office calls Sunroad lawsuit a "sham"
Recent court documents show City Attorney's office now defending Sunroad's land-grab
Giving away public park space to a developer? No big deal.
Filing a lawsuit against the City for an apparent quid-pro-quo with said developer? A complete "sham."
That is the latest opinion from the City Attorney's Office in the legal fight over two nine-foot easements that Sunroad Enterprises highjacked for their Kearny Mesa mixed-use project and then later convinced City Council to give them free of charge.
The complaint filed by San Diegans for Open Government didn't stop there. It also questioned the legality of the mysterious $100,000 donation to two Filner-supported non-profits in exchange for the Mayor's blessing of the land-grab.
Since the suit was filed the checks have been returned, the federal government launched an investigation into the matter, and the Mayor is on the verge of resigning over allegations of sexual harassment.
Now, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith is free to defend the giveaway of City property in court, a complete one-eighty for City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, who was the first person to go public about the $100,000 donation that Mayor Bob Filner's then-Deputy Chief of Staff Allen Jones allegedly arranged in exchange for the easements.
"The project obviously is not a sale of City property," wrote Deputy City Attorney Andrea Contreras in an August 16 court document.
"Even if [San Diegans for Open Government's] 'quid-pro-quo' allegations were true, Sunroad's funds were returned, so no 'sale' could have taken place"
"The lawsuit is a sham," wrote Contreras in the August 16 court document.
The City Attorney argues that San Diegans for Open Government failed to pursue all administrative remedies and the group does not have enough stake in the outcome of the case.
Their final point is that the City Council never passed a formal ordinance dedicating the 18-feet in easements as parkland.
The attorney for San Diegans for Open Government, Cory Briggs, takes issue with Goldsmith's reversal.
"About two weeks before Donna [Frye], Marco [Gonzalez], and I asked the mayor to resign, [Goldsmith] told me that he wanted to reverse the Sunroad deal because he suspected extortion," writes Briggs via email.
"When I told him that my client planned to file suit he immediately said, 'That's great. I'll personally accept service of the lawsuit on the city's behalf.'"
But that was before Filner's harassment scandal took center stage.
"My guess is that he was later reminded that the city council favors giveaways of public property to campaign-contributing developers and was told to curb his enthusiasm about taking down the Mayor over Sunroad."
"Now, with the Mayor on the ropes because of his sexual predations, [the City Attorney] is free to stand up for the people who finance the city council and him."
More like this:
- Judge denies Sunroad's free-speech argument — Nov. 17, 2013
- Did Sunroad pay to play? — Sept. 18, 2013
- To gift or not to gift. City Attorney's Office questioned donation of homeless shelter but was silent for Sunroad land giveaway — Sept. 10, 2013
- City Attorney Jan Goldsmith slapped with lawsuit for refusing to disclose public records — Aug. 6, 2013
- New lawsuit challenges Todd Gloria's pledge to open government — May 17, 2013