BlueSouthPark April 6, 2012 @ 1:44 p.m.

What really pleases me is the official executive summary for this item in the City's docketed agenda. It states:

DESCRIPTIVE SUMMARY OF ITEM: "On July 30, 2007, the City Council adopted and approved Resolution No. R-302887 forming the Greater Golden Hill Maintenance Assessment District (GGHMAD) and authorized the levy of special GGHMAD assessments. On September 22, 2011, the Court of Appeal for the State of California, Fourth Appellate District Division One (Fourth District) found the formation of the GGHMAD was invalid under article XIIID of the constitution of the State of California."

Councilmembers, take note. You were presented, on and before July 30 2007, with all of the information you or any half-literate person needed to know that you were approving something that was unconstitutional. We begged, pleaded, wrote letters, and beseeched you to read the law and look at the evidence.

Why did you go ahead and do it anyway? You closed your eyes. You shut us out. You insulted and dismissed us.

So, now that the trouble you caused has been resolved, do us a favor: When you vote to rescind this, PLEASE spare us the drama and don't wring your hands and lament how tragic it is.

You are the tragedy. You entice the populus to accept dishonest, corrupt government. How do you sleep at night?


nostalgic April 6, 2012 @ 6:23 p.m.

The people who worked to see the GGH Mad invalidated aren't jubliant - they are sad. The people who had to take the city to court to see that the law is followed have learned a distrust of the city and their community activist enablers that can never be overcome.

To the city: we don't trust you any more about anything. We don't trust you to do what is right. We don't trust you not to lie to us. We don't even trust you to do what the court compels you to do. You will try to get around it. It isn't a victory because the city learned nothing from it.


madhatter April 7, 2012 @ 9:53 a.m.

I don't think the community has been divided by what a bunch of opportunists have done to our community since 2007. And, yes, it's funny. In the last meeting we had with these GGHMAD opportunists (when it was dissolved) some of the speakers began talking about "healing." Healing for what? What we wanted was to stop these people from taking our money illegally and without any accountability whatsoever. Period. I still remember "that " meeting (in 2007) with council members at Brooklyn School with Mr. Hueso presiding (Ms. Atkins was conspicuously absent) and we, the residents of this community, trying to speak and being totally dismissed, even threatened by the body language and attitudes of some people standing around us that I suppose were the hired guns working for MAD.

We don't want "healing": we want to be respected and we want that a corporation never again take our money illegally to be used at their whim. That's all.

Again, thank you Mr. Hargrove for keeping us posted.


downtownrealist April 25, 2012 @ 12:48 p.m.

Just to be clear, the Downtown San Diego Partnership paid LiMandri's $10,000 January invoice with public money, not from private Partnership funds. The Partnership's Clean & Safe program's bank account, which is used to pay all of LiMandri's $10,000 per month consultant contract invoices, is reimbursed monthly for all Clean & Safe program expenses from assessments paid by downtown property owners. (Assessments are supposed to be used for services of direct benefit to the properties that generate those particular funds.)


oldcitizen April 25, 2012 @ 1:31 p.m.

It wasn't only $10,000 in January. LiMandri has been paid $10,000 every month since May of 2011 with Public money. His invoices list a few "consulting" tasks each month. A lot of graffitti and trash could be picked up with this money.


nostalgic April 25, 2012 @ 2:23 p.m.

This is a Maintenance Assessment District or a PBID with another name and no state restrictions. What DOES the city get back from all these people? The amount of money that stays inside offices is staggering - the flower baskets are to make you happy spending it. Please, everyone who reads this article needs to keep an eye on the city's latest scheme.


madhatter April 25, 2012 @ 2:43 p.m.

Well, well well, the benefits that maintenance assessment districts offer are zero, if not look at the rightly dissolved MAD (Hey! where is our money?). People like Li Mandri and many like him exist thanks to are great representatives. So, my advice is, be careful for whom you vote in the coming elections.


InOmbra April 25, 2012 @ 6:34 p.m.

And here's Marco!

Starting at 00:5:33, Marco...go on, and at and 00:6:15 and 00:06:50, see Marco's admissions that the code he wrote in 1998 and 2003 has "some problems." Ha ha!

Watch Marco nervously scratch and fidget. Watch Marti and Todd love them some Marco. Write your City Attorney and tell him what you think. And yes, if you keep watching, you see Marti talking to Hueso's brother about his taxi cab business.


Founder April 27, 2012 @ 11:45 a.m.

Is this is why San Diego will need many more MAD's: (Instead of raising taxes, we will just add MAD MONEY)

Mayor’s FY2013 budget to reduce police response times by 20%?

IMO PF&R (Police, Fire and Rescue) should never be over 50% of "our" budget!

This happens because their Union is Too Powerful in San Diego...


BlueSouthPark April 25, 2012 @ 2:53 p.m.

The killed Vargas bill, which Li Mandri apparently wrote, was a modified PBID that eliminated the biggest hurdle in the existing state Property & Business Improvement District law, the requirement that 50% of all property owners in a proposed district sign a petition asking to go to a vote on forming a district. Li Mandri and the City Council evidently think the reduced percentage, 30%, will fly in San Diego as an ordinance, because the private business groups that would benefit will rally in support. In 2002, when Li Mandri and Vargas tried to push a similar bill, AB2561, it was vetoed by the governor, who wrote:

...this bill offers no compelling reason why the assessment period should be extended so significantly, or for why the percentage of property owners signing a petition in support of such a [bill] is reduced from 50% to 30%. I am committed to the principles of smart growth and urban revitalization, but I do not believe that this bill provides the proper balance between these principles and those of fair and just taxation.

Vlad Kogan is exactly right: the types of property assessments that Li Mandri is always involved in creating are terrible. They are terrible because Li Mandri's self-serving fiefdoms do not address financing local needs, but, instead, address only the financing of luxuries and private groups. Li Mandri-style assessment districts finance private business groups (who will be the 30% signing the petitions and asking to be appointed managers), whose members in turn use the money handed over to them by the City for empowerment, personal leverage, and to finance their rent, office supplies, phone and computers, salaries for staff, directors, and managers, parking, lunches, promotions, retreats, and decorative luxury items such as flower baskets, decorator trash cans, and banners, not infrastructure. At least half, if not much more, of all of the assessments, which are public (taxpayer) money, are wasted on overhead. At the same time, the City, as administrator, is also spending money overseeing the business group contractor, more overhead.

Public-private partnerships are never economical, but are fiercely advocated by those who benefit financially from them and have come to expect them as a way of life in San Diego. The Downtown San Diego Partnership is a case in point: the board has no legal ground to allocate money to Li Mandri for the purpose of drafting state and local code. All of assessments are required to be spent on special and proportional benefits to the properties that are assessed.


historymatters April 26, 2012 @ 6:21 p.m.

Amen!!!! Beware of the public private partnership!!! It is being pushed by both sides as a great solution. its just a way to syphon tax dollars to special interests in a way that leaves citizens out of the loop. It always sounds good on paper. Who doesnt want to improve their neighborhood? look what the biggest public private partnership redevelopment has gotten us...unbelievable blight and enormous debt. he City is demanding 6.5 billlion dollars in state tax dollars for development projects. and there is no accountability and the gov is not standing up to them. So even though they are "dead" they created this entity to still have authority and there is nothing we can do about it. 1 more reason to vote no on any tax increases. doesnt matter what they say its for. it just goes into the giant sluch fund.


goodlead April 25, 2012 @ 3:40 p.m.

The City was stung by its very public defeat when the courts ruled it had violated the State Constitution in forming the Golden Hill Maintenance Assessment District -- and probably other MADs as well. So it is striking back in the only way it knows how: by making it easier to form a MAD (or Community Benefit Disttrict -- a MAD by a different name) with fewer formation requirements (see the specifics in the article) that is presumably harder to challenge in court. City government officials learn only the wrong lessons from their defeats.

These districts are supposed to provide "enhanced" benefits. But as no one in the city knows what a basic benefit is, an "enhanced" benefit means whatever the person using the term means. Basically it means that people are being taxed twice, once in their general property bill and once in the special tax, for the same service.

No surprise that Todd ("Incredibly Proud") Gloria is a big fan. He's never met a tax he didn't like, and he really doesn't care how the money is spent. Let's hear him give some specifics when he says that MADs have turned neighborhoods around, and let's make sure that it was really the MAD that did it. Politicians used to run on the slogan "A chicken in every pot." Gloria's slogan is "A flowerpot on every corner."


Founder April 26, 2012 @ 8:50 a.m.

Great comment! North Park's MAD has morphed into a benefit mostly for Main Street Fund and it's Board realigned to make sure it stays that way!


JustWondering April 25, 2012 @ 3:43 p.m.

When was 30% of anything considered a majority. If anything it should be 50% + 1, the same standard for majority rule anywhere. But that would not into the model that Vargas and Li Mandri are trying to profit from. That's right profit off the taxes paid by citizens to support something government is suppose to be doing anyway.
I question the notion government is collecting less because of Prop 13. Government is just spending well beyond it means because no one is really accountable.


Founder April 26, 2012 @ 8:54 a.m.

The 30% rule should be a RED FLAG to all voters to SCREAM NO...

Any new taxes should Require at least a majority ... OF ALL THOSE AFFECTED .... NOT JUST THOSE THAT REPLY...

This is a MAJOR point in how these MAD's are formed...


InOmbra April 25, 2012 @ 5:10 p.m.

goodlead writes: "when the courts ruled it had violated the State Constitution in forming the Golden Hill Maintenance Assessment District -- and probably other MADs as well"

Bingo: The other identically formed assessment districts run by business groups and the Economic Development department are indeed equally illegal on unconstitutional grounds. They are:

  1. Little Italy MAD (formed and run by Li Mandri)
  2. Adams Avenue MAD
  3. Central Commercial MAD (formed by Hueso in 2000; Li Mandri was paid to do the setup)
  4. City Heights MAD
  5. College Heights MAD
  6. Hillcrest Commercial Core MAD
  7. Ocean Beach Newport Avenue MAD

It is going to be really interesting to watch the Council do the annual renewal on these illegal districts, coming up in about a month. What will happen to the City's favorite phrase: "Maintenance Assessment Districts (MADs) are legal mechanisms by which property owners within a specified district can vote to assess themselves..."?? Can't say that now!!!

The Municipal Code Li Mandri wrote for Casey Gwinn in 1998 and 2003 created these! Will council now rescind these and try to use Li Mandri's new code? Why are San Diego's council and downtown pols hooked on shady characters? They never, never, never go away (like Madaffer). And the likes of Kehoe, Hueso, Atkins, Peters, Young, Faulconer, Gloria, and Marti Emerald, and, alas, now David Alvarez, love them.

San Diego could do so much better.


InOmbra April 25, 2012 @ 5:52 p.m.

San Diego council loves scoundrels like Li Mandri and Zucchet.

Why? Why can't San Diego pols and our council hall be the nexus of an honest, clean, transparent, demanding take-no-s*** government?

We could do so much with a reputation that transcends Enron-by-the-sea. The payoff would be HUGE!

Start now. This day, this minute.


GHH2 April 25, 2012 @ 5:44 p.m.

Li Mandri is a schemer who, as owner of a private, profit making entity has no right whatsoever to put his hands into the taxpayer's pocket. If he has such good ideas he needs to market them AND SELL THEM TO THE PUBLIC...who can then decide whether they want to buy what he is selling, OR NOT. Doing it through property tax additions/manipulations is out and out piracy. And the council members who support this are co-conspirators and need to be held accountable. They are stewards of the public's treasure and have a duty to ensure that the public's money is spent wisely. When was the last time an audit was performed on where our Property taxes are spent and how? We need to have an audit to see if our public officials are acting responsibly and wisely. And if they are not, they need to be thrown out of office. Everyone is going through hard times and having to make hard decisions. Decisions on what are priorities and what are non-essential's. And I can see no reason whatsoever that our public officials be exempted from these hard times and hard decisions. if they can't come up with more efficient and creative ways to do their jobs then they need to stop sucking at the public teat and step aside to let other, more worthy people serve the public. Remember that. You are public servants, not rulers.


news92101 April 25, 2012 @ 6:18 p.m.

Please continue to monitor SB 949... Juan Vargas is running for Congress.... and has for now let the bill be... but watch out.... after the November Election.... he could push for quick voting.... Your voice counts.... write your opposition to this Bill to Vargas office..


GHH April 25, 2012 @ 7:26 p.m.

JustWondering writes: "I question the notion government is collecting less because of Prop 13. Government is just spending well beyond it means because no one is really accountable."

Dan Walters, of The Sacramento Bee, wrote a piece on October 11, 2011, titled, "Financial facts don't back anti-Proposition 13 propaganda." His research is enlightening:

"In 1977-78, according to the State Board of Equalization, schools and local governments collected $10.3 billion in property taxes. The amount plummeted to $4.9 billion in 1978-79 as Proposition 13 cut the average property tax rate by more than half.
By 2010-11, however, property tax collections had risen to precisely 10 times as much – $49 billion per year – due to new construction and re-evaluation of existing property, even though the property tax rate was fixed at slightly over 1 percent.
During that same 33-year period, state general fund revenue, principally sales and income taxes, increased sevenfold – scarcely two-thirds the property tax revenue growth rate. Incidentally, inflation and population growth combined were about 400 percent during that same period, less than half the expansion in property taxes.
Obviously, the assertion that Proposition 13 has been an unconscionable barrier to revenue growth doesn't hold up."

Yes, JustWondering, our Government is - at all levels - just spending well beyond its means, and it has hog-tied us (five years in court to undo the illegal Golden Hill MAD), to prevent us from holding them accountable. Mr. Walter's article provides a healthy and very interesting dose of reality regarding the taxation frenzy of our California politicians. Read the rest of it at


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