San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer proclaimed a new era in transparency when he recently rolled out a new automated way for the public to request records previously hidden away in the dark warrens of city hall. But not all the information has been freely released, especially when it comes to the Balboa Park road and parking garage makeover backed by La Jolla Democratic billionaire Irwin Jacobs.
One example is a June 9 meeting entry from the electronic calendar of the mayor’s office. The subject of the meeting is listed as Qualcomm co-founder Jacobs, “re improvements to Balboa Park.” The sit-down required attendance by Katherine Johnston, Faulconer’s director of infrastructure and budget policy, with “optional” appearances by Mike Hansen, the mayor’s chief of land use and environmental policy, and Matt Awbrey, Faulconer’s public relations chief. But the multi-paragraph details of the confab have been kept top secret by the mayor with a black-ink redaction covering the entire text.
Besides his role in the Jacobs project, lawyer Hansen generated controversy when he got involved last year in lobbying for design changes in a new eatery, Born & Raised, next to his Little Italy condominium. “Few people would receive notice of an outdoor bar less than 20 feet from their bedroom window, proposing hours of 8am-1am, and not wish to provide input into that decision,” Hansen wrote in an email responding to a request for comment last October. “Public employees maintain the right to express their views as private citizens when they elect to work in public service.”