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How many lobbying firms does it take to screw in a real estate development permit in San Diego?

In the case of a controversial Jack in the Box currently blocked by besieged mayor Bob Filner, at least two, and those costly influence pedlling outfits aren't likely to come cheap.

As Dorian Hargrove reported last week, Jack is engaged in chronic conflict with the neighbors around his box in North Park.

The proposal to tear down the existing restaurant, there since 1961, in favor of a larger building with a reconfigured driveway and additional outside seating has been a contentious issue for residents who live nearby the intersection of Upas and 30th Street.

The most pressing issue for neighbors is the fact that current zoning does not even allow for drive-thru restaurants to operate in that location. The restaurant, however, was grandfathered in since it was in operation before the zoning designation changed back in 2000. That, however, would no longer apply if the restaurant is closed for an extended period and the building is torn down and rebuilt, which is the case.

Now, more than a year and a half later the fast-food chain's decision to demolish the old building to build anew has caused Mayor Filner to step in. In the past, Filner has not let any small issue, like permits, get in the way of stopping a project in its tracks.

As reported by the Voice of San Diego, Filner is now awaiting an opinion from the City Attorney's Office on ways to stop the already approved project while at the same time avoiding any potential litigation.

Hargrove wrote in depth about the classic battle between neighbors and burger slingers in February of last year.

Such contention is music to the ears of the corps of pricey lobbyists who call City Hall their second home, where they are ready, willing, and eager - for the right fee, of course - to come to the rescue of well-heeled clients in need of greasing the city's chaotic permit wheels.

Jack has tapped the downtown deal making law firm of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, a lobbying powerhouse which has had issues about reporting its campaign contributions in a timely manner, as reported here in March about an amendment to the firm's disclosure statement.

The filing, time-stamped by the San Diego city clerk's office at 3:35 yesterday afternoon, comes on the heels of our story Friday reporting that Sheppard Mullin lawyers donated heavily to DeMaio and two other GOP candidates, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (who subsequently left the party), while giving just $250 to the ultimate victor, Democrat Bob Filner.

According to the document, Sheppard Mullin failed to disclose contributions to DeMaio made by several of its partners, including Christopher Neils, the lawyer who has handled extensive legal work for Douglas F. Manchester, the hotel developer and U-T San Diego publisher now engaged in an editorial war with Filner over whether the mayor should sign a funding contract negotiated by GOP ex-mayor Jerry Sanders, a major beneficiary of hotel industry political largesse.

The firm amended again in April to disclose another DeMaio donation by one of its lawyers.

But though Sheppard Mullin's track record is sterling when it comes to coaxing lucrative development deals out of the city, Jack has also summoned yet another brigade of influence peddling troops, in the form of the Clay Company, a downtown firm that represented German multi-national Daimler, A.G. in its successful effort to bring its tiny blue rental cars with special parking spaces to town.

According to its filing, dated July 19, Clay Co. has just been retained by Jack regarding "Implementation of land use entitlements/permits" on the North Park project, the same thing Sheppard Mullin said in its own disclosure, also filed July 19, it is doing for the burger chain.

The two recent reports provide notice of the new client; how much the lobbying firms rake off of the deal won't be disclosed until after the cash is paid.

If Mayor Filner leaves office over the sexual harrassment scandal that currently besets him, inside observers note, even more money will likely be needed for campaign contributions to each of his worthy would-be successors.

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milossd July 25, 2013 @ 10:47 a.m.

Matt Potter Rocks!!!

This Mayor is done.

There goes the first Democratic mayor since being born in SD. Another Republican is not the solution to the same ole mayor seat.

Any bright ideas on who can run the city without a scandal?

It's not DeMaio.


CaptD July 25, 2013 @ 2:15 p.m.

Yes Matt Potter Rocks

Nope, Mayor Filner is not DONE,

Unless you are speaking with him being DONE with all the trumped up unproven allegations against him, which are clearly designed to get him out of office so that a more pliable $trong Mayor can take his place and cater to Big Business wants instead of what is good for SD's voters!


CaptD July 25, 2013 @ 2:04 p.m.

Mayor Filner is sticking up for all the North Park residents that have already clearly said NO to Jack's getting to build a larger reconfigured Jack in the Box at the corner of Upas and 30th Street.

Now those that are hoping to get rid of Mayor Filner are using this as yet another excuse to post additional information that they hope will be seen as Anti-Mayor Filner. This tactic, which is now becoming a $an Diego standard operating procedure for wealthy business, of using name calling and other character assassinations, done without a fair trial s no longer acceptable because it prevents the truth from becoming known.

I see it this objection to Jack's building whatever they want, the other way; here is yet another situation where Mayor Filner is standing up to defend the City against Big Business interests that seek to do whatever they wish no matter what residents and or the City codes say!

What we really need to find out is who at the City pulled a fast one and signed off on Jacks permits when they knew it was illegal, and will they be fired over this Sunroads-type blunder. It may even turn out that this is yet another Anti-Mayor Filner, City employee's attempt to help Jack and/or whoever would replace Mayor Filner should he step down...

I say, Hooray for Mayor Filner, at least one elected official in San Diego is not afraid to stand up for our neighborhoods and their Planning Committees that they have elected to plan their future!


CaptD July 26, 2013 @ 7:51 a.m.

The biggest question is who at DSD signed off on the Jack paperwork and what was their political agenda?


milossd Aug. 24, 2013 @ 1:48 a.m.

i do agree that the local cowards are trying to get him out. they sat on this issue until now. this city needs help and its not another big business who pays of the mayors prior to Filner.


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