The city gave away hundreds of acres to General Atomics in the 1950s
  • The city gave away hundreds of acres to General Atomics in the 1950s
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GOP mayor Kevin Faulconer has taken a quiet step toward privatizing the sell-off of "surplus" city real estate, which a U-T San Diego columnist recently estimated could be worth a billion dollars.

"The City has an extensive real estate portfolio and is interested in maximizing the potential of City owned properties which may be deemed surplus or not fully utilized," says a request for qualifications circulated by the city's purchasing and contracting department.

Agents are being sought to "provide professional brokerage services for the disposition of surplus properties, with particular emphasis on comprehensive real estate analyses, assessment of property sale, leasing, and/or joint venture opportunities, and interpretation and assessment of relevant market trends," says the request, the deadline for replies to which was September 22.

"Being selected for inclusion on the City’s List does not guarantee any minimum amount of work," the solicitation says. "Further, the City’s List is not an exclusive list of who may perform commercial brokers’ services for the City because the City specifically reserves the right to purchase these services from other sources when it is in the City’s best interest to do so, and may do so without notice to those on the City’s List."

The document adds, "Please describe how the potential for conflicts of interest will be minimized, with particular emphasis on dual representation issues."

San Diego’s citizenry has a dubious history of disposing of its public property, going back to the giveaway of land on Torrey Pines in the 1950s for the headquarters of General Atomics.

Later, Ex-mayor Pete Wilson engineered the sell-off of even more Torrey Pines real estate to his political patrons.

Over at U-T San Diego, whose owner, real estate magnate Douglas Manchester, contributed at least $356,000 to make Faulconer mayor, interest in the ultimate fate of the city's potentially lucrative real estate portfolio is high.

In a September 28 commentary, the paper's Dan McSwain advised the city to start selling soon.

"City officials don’t seem to know what their portfolio is worth. Using the dubious assumption the leases are at market rates, the back of my envelope suggests $800 million to $1 billion could be raised. And that’s just for the rental property."

The columnist indicated the city could use the purported windfall to fix sewers and other infrastructure.

"The good news is that market conditions are decent for sellers right now. It’s time for San Diego to shed its real estate empire, and get busy digging."

In another sign of blood in the power brokers' water, the Voice of San Diego news and opinion website noted on September 29 that "the city of San Diego doesn’t have any sort of strategy for all the property it owns."

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laplayaheritage Oct. 13, 2014 @ 7:20 p.m.

City Attorney Memorandum of Law, dated August 18, 2014. "Ability to Approve Entitlements for Uses of Pueblo Lands Other Than Those Approved by the Electorate."

"Charter section 219 requires that any lease of Pueblo Lands in excess of 15 years or sale of Pueblo Lands first be approved by an ordinance of the San Diego City Council and subsequently ratified by the electorate."


aardvark Oct. 13, 2014 @ 11:01 p.m.

The city is probably trying to figure out a way to bypass the voters and sell the Qualcomm and Sports Arena sites for a new Chargers stadium without their approval.


laplayaheritage Oct. 14, 2014 @ 12:36 p.m.

The eastern boundary of the Pueblo Lands is Boundary Street @ Interstate 805. Qualcomm Stadium is outside the boundary of the Pueblo Lands. Therefore City Charter Section 219 does not apply. The Sports Arena in the Midway district is on Pueblo Lands, South of the San Diego River.

Thank goodness we have City Charter Section 221 that requires a public vote before the City sells large contiguous parcels greater than 80 acres. Qualcomm Stadium is 166 acres. Former Mayor Sanders wanted to sell the Qualcomm Stadium property to SDSU, but the plans were put on hold when City Charter Section 221 was mentioned.

See Figure 4 on Page 34.

Although the city-owned Sports Arena is only 67 acres, the city also owns contiguous parcels. Not including streets the City owns 88 acres in the Midway Community Planning area.

"Section 219: Pueblo Lands No sale of Pueblo Lands owned by The City of San Diego which are situated North of the North line of the San Diego River shall ever be valid and binding upon said City unless such sale shall have been first authorized by an ordinance duly passed by the Council and thereafter ratified by the electors of The City of San Diego at any special or general municipal election. The City Manager shall have authority to lease Pueblo Lands, provided that any lease for a term exceeding one year shall not be valid unless first authorized by ordinance of the Council. No lease shall be valid for a period of time exceeding fifteen years.

Section 221: Sale of Real Property Real property owned by The City of San Diego consisting of eighty (80) contiguous acres or more, whether or not in separate parcels, shall not be sold or exchanged unless such sale or exchange shall have first been authorized by ordinance of the Council and thereafter ratified by the electors of The City of San Diego. The foregoing shall not apply to the sale or exchange of real property to a governmental agency for bona fide governmental purposes which sale or exchange was duly authorized by ordinance of the Council, nor shall it apply to properties previously authorized for disposition by the electors of The City of San Diego."


aardvark Oct. 14, 2014 @ 3:14 p.m.

Thanks for the clarification. I didn't realize there were two different sections in the city charter that cover this.


Visduh Oct. 13, 2014 @ 8:33 p.m.

Overall the city of San Diego lacks a strategy for nearly everything it does. It stumbles from crisis to crisis, emergency to emergency, putting out fires and then walking away. Nobody should be surprised that it has lacked and still lacks any sort of strategy to deal with all this "surplus" property.


AlexClarke Oct. 14, 2014 @ 6:40 a.m.

When the property for sale is identified and up for sale see who tries to buy it. I am sure that many pieces of prime real estate will be sold to city hall insiders and less than market value. Just follow the money.


MichaelValentine Oct. 14, 2014 @ 12:16 p.m.

So the billionaires who engineered the removal of Mayor Filner then backed the eventual winning candidate to replace him are lining up for the pay off.

Tell me which is more embarrassing? Filner or the obvious corruption?


aardvark Oct. 14, 2014 @ 3:16 p.m.

The corruption is ongoing. Filner brought national exposure, so for now, Filner wins the title of most embarrassing.


photog921 Oct. 15, 2014 @ 2:30 p.m.

Seems like such a simple project. Itemize the parcels, determine value, have a section with Notes regarding the property, assign a good staffer to maintain it. (Damn, an intern could do that!) And make it public. To think there is no organization in an area that is so manageable (real estate!) is appalling.


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