One Paseo conceptual illustration
Whether or not San Diego is sufficiently business friendly has been a debate fostered over the past year by those who derive sizable funding from the city's so-called entrepreneurial and developer classes.
“I felt like San Diego didn’t want us,” internet maven Reid Carr was quoted as saying last month on Voice of San Diego, an online nonprofit news and opinion venture funded by billionaire Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs. Carr is on the Voice of San Diego's board.
Another self-styled business advocate and a member of the Voice’s board is Eugene “Mitch” Mitchell, vice president of California government affairs for San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Gas Co., owned by utility giant Sempra Energy.
Before that career, Mitchell had been vice president of public policy and communications at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, where he worked “to develop a public policy agenda that is favorable to the business climate and standard of living in San Diego," according to a write-up on SDG&E's website.
As previously reported, Sempra and its employees spent big to get Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer and council Republicans elected last year, giving $10,000 to an outfit called New Majority San Diego.
"The Chapter is comprised of San Diego's top business leaders, from various industries, who are highly involved in local, state and federal politics," according to the group's website.
The utility company's Francisco J. Urtasun threw a Faulconer fundraiser last January 8 that netted $8625. Sempra also kicked in $25,000 to the chamber of commerce’s PAC after Faulconer was elected. Democrats weren't left entirely out in the cold. On March 3, Sempra gave the county party $5000 and came up with another $2000 on May 1.
Now comes yet another heavy hitter — named "Citizens for a Business Friendly San Diego” — ostensibly concerned about the local business climate with a new political committee.
According to a December 30 disclosure filing with the city clerk's office, Los Angeles–based Kilroy Realty, L.P. has set up the operation to "support candidates to foster San Diego business investment."
As reported here last month, Kilroy is in the midst of a high-stakes fight over One Paseo, a big commercial and housing development in Carmel Valley seeking city council approval.
The developer is fielding a phalanx of high-dollar influence-peddlers, spending a total of $62,000 in the third quarter of 2014, according to the firm's lobbying disclosure report filed with the city clerk. Since 2010, the company and its employees have given more than $30,000 to city candidates.
Judging by the formation of the firm's new committee, more is likely on the way.