Walter Mencken 4 p.m., May 3
Double whopper lobbyists want it their way with city hall
Big DeMaio backers with history of amending lobbying disclosure reports paid to turn up the heat on city over lagging burger project blocked by Filner
How many lobbying firms does it take to screw in a real estate development permit in San Diego?
In the case of a controversial Jack in the Box currently blocked by besieged mayor Bob Filner, at least two, and those costly influence pedlling outfits aren't likely to come cheap.
As Dorian Hargrove reported last week, Jack is engaged in chronic conflict with the neighbors around his box in North Park.
The proposal to tear down the existing restaurant, there since 1961, in favor of a larger building with a reconfigured driveway and additional outside seating has been a contentious issue for residents who live nearby the intersection of Upas and 30th Street.
The most pressing issue for neighbors is the fact that current zoning does not even allow for drive-thru restaurants to operate in that location. The restaurant, however, was grandfathered in since it was in operation before the zoning designation changed back in 2000. That, however, would no longer apply if the restaurant is closed for an extended period and the building is torn down and rebuilt, which is the case.
Now, more than a year and a half later the fast-food chain's decision to demolish the old building to build anew has caused Mayor Filner to step in. In the past, Filner has not let any small issue, like permits, get in the way of stopping a project in its tracks.
As reported by the Voice of San Diego, Filner is now awaiting an opinion from the City Attorney's Office on ways to stop the already approved project while at the same time avoiding any potential litigation.
Hargrove wrote in depth about the classic battle between neighbors and burger slingers in February of last year.
Such contention is music to the ears of the corps of pricey lobbyists who call City Hall their second home, where they are ready, willing, and eager - for the right fee, of course - to come to the rescue of well-heeled clients in need of greasing the city's chaotic permit wheels.
Jack has tapped the downtown deal making law firm of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, a lobbying powerhouse which has had issues about reporting its campaign contributions in a timely manner, as reported here in March about an amendment to the firm's disclosure statement.
The filing, time-stamped by the San Diego city clerk's office at 3:35 yesterday afternoon, comes on the heels of our story Friday reporting that Sheppard Mullin lawyers donated heavily to DeMaio and two other GOP candidates, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (who subsequently left the party), while giving just $250 to the ultimate victor, Democrat Bob Filner.
According to the document, Sheppard Mullin failed to disclose contributions to DeMaio made by several of its partners, including Christopher Neils, the lawyer who has handled extensive legal work for Douglas F. Manchester, the hotel developer and U-T San Diego publisher now engaged in an editorial war with Filner over whether the mayor should sign a funding contract negotiated by GOP ex-mayor Jerry Sanders, a major beneficiary of hotel industry political largesse.
But though Sheppard Mullin's track record is sterling when it comes to coaxing lucrative development deals out of the city, Jack has also summoned yet another brigade of influence peddling troops, in the form of the Clay Company, a downtown firm that represented German multi-national Daimler, A.G. in its successful effort to bring its tiny blue rental cars with special parking spaces to town.
According to its filing, dated July 19, Clay Co. has just been retained by Jack regarding "Implementation of land use entitlements/permits" on the North Park project, the same thing Sheppard Mullin said in its own disclosure, also filed July 19, it is doing for the burger chain.
The two recent reports provide notice of the new client; how much the lobbying firms rake off of the deal won't be disclosed until after the cash is paid.
If Mayor Filner leaves office over the sexual harrassment scandal that currently besets him, inside observers note, even more money will likely be needed for campaign contributions to each of his worthy would-be successors.
More like this:
- Rubber chicken master assumes city hall throne — Dec. 11, 2014
- Big three hotel moguls girding for Filner war? — July 23, 2013
- Another unreported DeMaio contribution disclosed by Sheppard Mullin law firm — April 1, 2013
- Ex-firm of judge in moguls' anti-Filner case revises disclosure to show more campaign contributions — March 20, 2013
- Former law colleagues of judge in moguls' case against Filner gave big money to DeMaio — March 15, 2013