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San Diego City Council Responds to County Grand Jury Assertion That New City Hall Is Unnecessary

The San Diego City Council voted 6-1 on October 4 to adopt a resolution, responding to the San Diego County Grand Jury report that a new city hall is not needed.

The resolution authorized the “council's response to the Presiding Judge of the San Diego Superior Court no later than November 1, 2011.” The Centre City Development Corporation and the Independent Budget Analyst previously prepared the council's response.

Councilmember Carl DeMaio voted no; councilmember Tony Young was absent. Councilmember Todd Gloria, who made the motion to approve, said, “We have a substandard city hall; the building needs replacement.” Councilmember Marti Emerald commented, “We need to revisit lease rates.”

The grand jury concluded that the city cannot justify a new, 19-story, 576,000-square-foot facility with an approximate $500-per-square-foot cost (estimated at $293,500,000). The grand jury determined the city could purchase “existing buildings of sufficient size to accommodate the City’s needs” for approximately $200 per square foot.

According to attachment 1 of the resolution, “the Grand Jury drew a number of inaccurate conclusions.” The council agreed with some findings, including one that the “existing city hall is in disrepair.”

The City of San Diego currently owns four buildings constructed in 1963 and 1965 between First and Third avenues: the city administration building, city operations building, concourse, and the Evan V. Jones Parkade (parking garage). The administration facility includes offices for the mayor and councilmembers, council chambers and committee rooms, the office of the city clerk, and other offices.

The administration, operations, and concourse buildings contain asbestos that will require abatement if they are renovated or demolished. The city leases about 93 percent of the Civic Center Plaza building.

Pictured: San Diego Civic Center

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The San Diego City Council voted 6-1 on October 4 to adopt a resolution, responding to the San Diego County Grand Jury report that a new city hall is not needed.

The resolution authorized the “council's response to the Presiding Judge of the San Diego Superior Court no later than November 1, 2011.” The Centre City Development Corporation and the Independent Budget Analyst previously prepared the council's response.

Councilmember Carl DeMaio voted no; councilmember Tony Young was absent. Councilmember Todd Gloria, who made the motion to approve, said, “We have a substandard city hall; the building needs replacement.” Councilmember Marti Emerald commented, “We need to revisit lease rates.”

The grand jury concluded that the city cannot justify a new, 19-story, 576,000-square-foot facility with an approximate $500-per-square-foot cost (estimated at $293,500,000). The grand jury determined the city could purchase “existing buildings of sufficient size to accommodate the City’s needs” for approximately $200 per square foot.

According to attachment 1 of the resolution, “the Grand Jury drew a number of inaccurate conclusions.” The council agreed with some findings, including one that the “existing city hall is in disrepair.”

The City of San Diego currently owns four buildings constructed in 1963 and 1965 between First and Third avenues: the city administration building, city operations building, concourse, and the Evan V. Jones Parkade (parking garage). The administration facility includes offices for the mayor and councilmembers, council chambers and committee rooms, the office of the city clerk, and other offices.

The administration, operations, and concourse buildings contain asbestos that will require abatement if they are renovated or demolished. The city leases about 93 percent of the Civic Center Plaza building.

Pictured: San Diego Civic Center

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7

I was reminded of what my former hometown (Tulsa) did when they needed a new city hall. The City of Tulsa bought a high-tech, energy-efficient office building in 2007 that originally cost more than $200 million. Their price was $52 million. They had to move out of the civic center, but are still located downtown (close to their expanding arts district). And they collect considerable lease dollars from companies, as the city didn't need all the space in that high-rise building.

Oct. 5, 2011

About twenty years ago, during a real estate downturn that had scads of vacant office space in downtown SD, the county went ahead and built the Hall of Justice building. Sure, that structure was purpose built for courts, and is probably about as efficient as government can be, but cost more than necessary. The county could have made a real killing on vacant space or on buying a distressed building outright. But the building industry (both contractors and unions) wanted a project and got their way.

More recently, here in Vista, the city council managed to get a sales tax override passed, and one of the selling points was a new city hall. Oh, the tales of woe that were spread far and wide about the old and rundown digs that city government operated from! So, now we have a flashy and palatial new city hall that they cannot afford to keep open on Friday. Yes, the city hall is open only four days a week now, Monday through Thursday.

San Diego city government needs to look first for vacant space in downtown and nearby areas, and grab up the properties that are going for really distressed prices. Some minimal remodeling would permit relocation of operations that do not need to be in downtown in premium space. Then tear down or repair the existing buildings. If those structures are less than fifty years old, they can be and should be refurbished, not replaced. The city cannot afford the luxury of a new municipal palace.

Oct. 5, 2011

In 1995 I lived in Cardiff, Calif. with a group of retired Teamsters all former members of the racetrack parking lot crew.
Before filing for bankruptcy they borrowed everything they could-

spent everything they could.

Any cash was kept in the house. Bank account at less then ‘0’. Max credit cards and more came in mail. Same day loans against $2,500 monthly pension’s check-used white Plymouth Valiant down payment on credit card.

Then all debts were cleared before a bankruptcy judge.

Even got to keep car.

Same policy is being followed by “functionally bankrupt” city of San Diego (new stadium, new $500 million library,

new park, new fire station, new convention

center, homeless consultant and staff at $464,750 a year to provide “technical assistance”, $27 million dollar Petco Pedestrian Walkway, 100 millon dollar loan, new city hall))

All debts will be erased by bankruptcy judges’ ruling that

city sales tax will be increased 2% without a public vote to cover debt.

Oct. 5, 2011

All debts will be erased by bankruptcy judges’ ruling that

city sales tax will be increased 2% without a public vote to cover debt.

== BK Judges have no legal authority to increase any tax, including sales tax.

Oct. 5, 2011

The grand jury concluded that the city cannot justify a new, 19-story, 576,000-square-foot facility with an approximate $500-per-square-foot cost (estimated at $293,500,000). The grand jury determined the city could purchase “existing buildings of sufficient size to accommodate the City’s needs” for approximately $200 per square foot.

== Why do we have morons in charge?

Oct. 5, 2011

I don't think it's right to call our city councilmembers "morons" because they want a new (and expensive) building. Congress has done the same thing over time: funding and building new office buildings for their members whenever they wanted. The taxpayers ultimately have to decide if their taxes are well-spent, and make sure their voices are heard.

Oct. 8, 2011

Then let's call them something worse. Let's say they are thieves, knaves, and utterly uncaring for the welfare of their constituents.

Oct. 8, 2011

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