Unauthorized helicopter landing pad built at the Grand Del Mar
Doug Manchester, owner of the Grand Del Mar and publisher of the U-T, is coming closer to having permits for the illegal work done on his property over the course of the past decade.
Next month, on September 25, San Diego's planning commissioners will discuss whether to approve a Site Development Permit that will bring Manchester and his posh resort into compliance.
It was a long, hard road, and when factoring in hundreds of staff hours, a costly one as well.
As reported by the Reader, Manchester got to work on a list of improvements shortly after purchasing the hotel in 2003, all without permission from the city.
Those improvements included clearing 3.4 acres of sensitive habitat to make room for improvements to his golf course and for walking and hiking trails.
Two years later, in 2005, the city and Manchester came to an agreement. Manchester promised to get the appropriate permits and pay $250,000 to use on a designated horse trail. Both sides signed the agreement in February of that year.
But Manchester pushed on, implementing a work-first/ask-later policy. During the course of five years, Manchester built a 34,700 square-foot equestrian center featuring grooming corrals and horse trails, put in a landing pad for helicopters, opened a nightclub, and built three parking lots without asking the city first.
In 2010, the city responded by threatening to fine Manchester $2500 a day for each of the 26 violations.
It was an empty threat. Manchester and the city went back and forth over the improvements. Meanwhile, guests were flown in on the helipad and given access to the equestrian center.
In 2013, the two sides reached another agreement: Manchester would pay $87,000 in fines as well as that $250,000 he promised to pay eight years earlier and get permits on all of the illegal work. The city received the check on the May 8 deadline.
Planning commissioners will discuss the permit on September 25 at 9 a.m.