Is San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer’s new planning director a closet NIMBY? The term, short for Not in My Back Yard, has been weaponized by the building and construction lobby for use against those who seek to influence plans for development over the objections of project sponsors. Putative city planning chief Mike Hansen — who used to be Republican Faulconer’s chief of land use and environmental policy — was before that a lawyer for a bevy of well-heeled developers who retained the downtown law and lobbying powerhouse Sheppard Mullin.
But when it came to a fancy new eatery proposed next to his condo residence in Little Italy three years ago, neighbor Hansen demanded a say. “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. Public employees maintain the right to express their views as private citizens when they elect to work in public service,” wrote Hansen in an October 2015 email, after it became known that he had obtained an opinion from the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission granting him the right to lobby other city officials in his off-hours. “I personally support the project, and hope the applicant incorporates additional mitigation measures to address quality of life impacts to its neighbors.” After tussling with the San Diego Regional Airport Authority about whether the new establishment would pose a risk to diners because it was too close to the Lindbergh Field flight path, the business finally passed regulatory muster and opened last fall as super-pricey Born & Raised.