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."