David Dodd 2:33 a.m., May 19
California sues Manchester's firm; reports show Navy complex push by fired city lobbyist
Disclosures reveal that U-T San Diego Manchester's Navy Broadway Complex was one of several contentious issues lobbied by D.C. influence peddling firm dumped by new mayor
As noted here last month, having ex-congressman Bob Filner as San Diego's new Democratic mayor might mean interesting changes for the city's costly and heavily partisan lobbying agenda, as previously controlled by Republican Jerry Sanders.
Two new developments illustrate the point.
Filner has reportedly fired Patton Boggs, the high-dollar Washington influence peddling outfit hired by Sanders to lobby Congress and the Obama administration.
According to Senate disclosure reports covering the final half of 2012, one of the hottest issues on the Patton Boggs lobbying agenda was downtown's Navy Broadway Complex, the mammoth project promoted by GOP funder, La Jolla hotel magnate, and U-T San Diego publisher Douglas F. Manchester.
So-called Navy Broadway, involving the conversion of choice Navy-owned bay front property in downtown San Diego into a giant hotel, retail and office complex, has had a tortured history, with Filner's termination of Sanders-friendly Patton Boggs just one more chapter in the controversial saga.
Yet another twist in the long-running battle occurred this week when the California Coastal Commission filed suit in federal court here against Manchester's development arm, Manchester Pacific Gateway, and the Navy over the development. As reported by Courthouse News Service:
The California Coastal Commission, charged with protecting the coastal environment, claims that elements of the Navy-Manchester project violates states and federal laws.
At a public hearing in November 2011, the Commission found that the Navy made so many changes to the original plan that it is "no longer consistent to the maximum extent practicable with the Coastal Act," according to the complaint. The Commission says it "recommended several modifications to the project," so it would comply with the Coastal Act, including moving the museum back to the waterfront. But the Navy "continues to refuse to prepare a supplemental consistency determination," which violates 15 C.F.R. § 930.1, the complaint states. The Commission claims that "access to coastal resources and views will be forever lost" if the defendants are allowed to build their project that does not comply with the Coastal Act.
Unless the court stops the project, the Commission says, it will be unable to perform its duties to protect the coast, and the public's right to these "precious coastal resources."
Patton Boggs’ most recent disclosure of its lobbying business for the city of San Diego, filed January 13 and covering the fourth quarter of last year, continued to list the Navy Broadway Complex as a "specific lobbying issue," pursued with the "U.S. Senate" on behalf of the city.
No details of specific senatorial contacts are given; staffers Pamela Welsh and Jack Deschauer were involved in the activity, according to the disclosure.
Also on the lobbyists' issues list: "alternative fuels provisions in Defense authorization;” Patton Boggs was paid $50,000 during the period, the same amount as it reported for the previous three months.
The U-T, which broke news of the lobbyists' firing on the web last night, played the story as a clash between Filner and the city council:
Mayor Bob Filner has quietly fired San Diego’s lobbyists in Sacramento and Washington, threatening to further strain an already tense relationship between his office and the City Council.
The U-T added that Filner had also dumped the city's Sacramento lobbyists, Sloat Higgins Jensen & Associates, and ex-GOP Assemblyman Jeff Marston, who the paper said had subcontracted with Sloat.
According to the most recently available filing, posted online by the California Secretary of State's office and covering the third quarter of last year, Sloat received $28,000 during the period, for a cycle to date total of $266,000.
Other lobbying expenses listed by the city included a total of $12,371 paid to Southwest Airlines.
Issues lobbied, the report said, were "Redevelopment, enterprise zones, recycled water, affordable housing, CEQA, open space, local transportation issues, biofuels, [and] electric vehicles."
We hope to catch up with the various players when they get back at work Monday.
Image: Rendering of San Diego U-T publisher Douglas Manchester's controversial development plan