Garrett Harris 10:11 p.m., May 23
Plaza de Panama Committee continues to send lobbyists to City Hall
Irwin Jacobs-backed committee has hired lobbying outfit to get approval for Plaza de Panama project
The Plaza de Panama committee, the group heading up the controversial project to remove traffic from Balboa Park's hub, hasn't stopped their efforts to gain approval for their project even as the project is hung up in court.
Instead, the committee has done its best to chip away at the City during the past several months, lobbying mayoral aides and staff members from the City Attorney's Office, Development Services, and Park and Recreation Departments.
From July to December 31 of last year, the committee paid lobbying firm Seltzer, Caplan, McMahon, and Vitek $7,000 to meet with city officials to get funding and approval for the project (read Matt Potter's article [here]).
During that time, Robert Caplan and colleagues met with former Sanders aide, Gerry Braun, Deputy City Attorneys Brant Will and Andrea Contreras, Debt Management employee Lakshmi Kommi, and members from the Development Services and Park and Recreation to gain "approval of the Plaza de Panama restoration project; authorization to issue bonds," reads the past two lobbying disclosures.
It appeared as if their work paid off. On October 2, city councilmembers approved issuing bonds through the Public Financing Authority, an arm of the former, and now defunct, redevelopment agency.
But now, just days after a Superior Court judge indicated that he may rule against the City in a lawsuit filed by preservationist group (see January 28 article in CityBeat), Save Our Heritage Organisation, one would think that would be the end of the lobbying efforts.
That doesn't appear to be the case.
Just after the new year, the Plaza de Panama Committee once again hired the lobbying outfit to win support at City Hall. According to the January 14 disclosure, Seltzer, Caplan, McMahon, and Vitek were hired by the "non-profit charitable corporation to restore the Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park."
The judge in the case is expected to issue his final ruling as early as today.