It shouldn't come as any surprise to us that the city of San Diego is this unscrupulous in their business dealings with developers, but this story is about as contemptible and egregious as any Wall Street bailout scandal....come to think of is a Wall Street bailout scandal! And they are not just stealing money, they are destroying lives. And not just any lives, but the lives of San Diego's most vulnerable and defenseless citizens....the elderly.

Dan Soderberg, a community activist and professional architectural photographer, videographer, and friend has dedicated and volunteered an enormous amount of time to exposing this story in a Youtube video called "Disposable Residents". The video he created speaks louder than any words I can offer.

Here it is on Youtube...

The Voice of San Diego also recently wrote an article outlining the unfairness of the project.

I will try and break it down for you so you can see the absurdity and the contemptibility of the tale.

The residents that have lived there for decades and have created a community in this lovely mobile home park in east Mission Valley were told that although they could not buy their lots, the property would never be sold and had a 90 year lease that could not be broken.


Little to their knowledge Archstone (you may have seen their work...its ALL OVER Mission Valley and its hideous), was in discussions with the owner...a deal that could never happen without intervention from the city to bypass the legalities.


Side Note: Archstone was a HUGE contributor to the campaigns this last November so not surprisingly most council members and the developer friendly mayor are siding with them. The Center for policy Initiatives did a great job tracking developer contributions last November. Go to "Follow the Money".

One resident of the Park said this: "How could a company spend this kind of money on a piece of land which is protected by law without having an inside deal with someone from City Council? "

Much to my and probably everyone else's non-surprise this was Madaffer's District.

Image This is a quote straight from the website of the residents...

"120 senior and retired grandparents are being threatened with eviction from their homes and community. Archstone Smith a 20 billion dollar corp. is trying to close our park and build 445 luxury apartments and add 900 cars here to the morning and evening commutes of Mission Gorge. This is on top of the 4200 apartments and homes that are going to be built on the mostly empty land next door."

Seriously, in the middle of the biggest housing glut in history, while the mayor is telling us that we will be FORCED to conserve water (which I am all for, but not while he is allowing 1000's of new homes to be constructed), Archstone is being allowed to go in sidestepping the law and evict over 100 seniors that have built their lives here. This is their community and these are their friends. I mean how hard do you think it is for elderly people to develop these sort of friendships?

But that's not all...if that doesn't make you angry consider this...The debt burden of Archstone is part of what brought down Lehman Brothers.

Look at this national article in the new York Times titled "Risky Real Estate Deals Helped Doom Lehman"

"In October 2007, Lehman joined Tishman Speyer in buying Archstone-Smith, a publicly traded company with about 360 upscale apartment buildings across the country. Lehman put in $250 million in equity and led a group of lenders that contributed $4.6 billion in bridge equity for the $22.2 billion deal, which was financed in part by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. "

So now that Lehman is belly up Archstone has put its hand out to the city. They have even solicited San Diego Housing Commission for funds.

Look for this to happen!!!

Dan Soderberg made this comment:

"The San Diego Housing Commission gave Archstone Smith their highest level of endorsement for this project--including the paltry $8,000 for each house and a mere $40 dollars a night to stay at a flea bag motel for 5 nights. Their justification? All perfectly legal. This law may have been good in 1970, but not now."

And let's not forget our own Todd Gloria came to us as a Commissioner from the San Diego Housing Commission. So I certainly won't expect him to stand up to these guys.

So now Archstone can't come up with the money for this project due to the recent housing downturn. So this was the choice City Council gave them. If we keep the zone overlay in place, Archstone Smith still owns the property. They said with or without the over lay removed they will close the property and evict the residents.

Some of the developer friendly Council members pressured the residents to accept a buy-out.

Well now poor Archstone apparently can't afford to give the residents the pay-out they were promised. So they get the land and get to kick these residents out without any real obligation to pay them?

And as someone with a Master's degree in architecture, I will be the first person to say that mobile home parks are wonderful and should be saved. They have a scale that is so human and they facilitate a sense of community like no other neighborhood can.

I hope you will take the time to watch Dan's video. Like I said, he is more knowledgeable about it than I am. This action is wrong. Are we really going to allow our elderly citizens to be treated like this so that the sleazebags on Wall Street can continue the parasitic greed that has brought our current economy to its knees?

We have to help these guys. Please write....

[email protected]
or your respective council member..


Fred Williams April 7, 2009 @ 7:14 a.m.

Dan Soderberg's videos are essential. He's doing a great job exposing the shady deals in San Diego.

When will we the people of San Diego stand up and demand change?

It's truly outrageous that our city will trample on the law, evict old-folks from their homes, and make our housing troubles worse -- all so we can SUBSIDIZE the crooks at Archstone Smith and Lehman Brothers!

I hope this deal gets cancelled. Otherwise, I hope the seniors will gang together, head downtown enmasse, and bring along some pitchforks and torches...


RobertP April 7, 2009 @ 9:49 p.m.

The park leaders need to contact the US Attorney for California and press the complaint the city commission is in violation of the Honest Services law. Only a bribed commission would vote to do in their own residents. In Florida this Federal law has been used to jail half the Palm Beach county commission. It works! They also need to hire a competent attorney to research the 90 year lease. The city may also trump up fake code violations, declare the park unsafe and unsanitary, etc. you need to be prepared not only to argue to the contrary, but to take the city to court.


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