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As of now, the 332-unit, 10,000 square foot commercial space, mixed use development known as Centerpoint Luxury Apartment sits dormant at the intersection of 63rd and El Cajon Boulevard near San Diego State University.

Progress has been halted by Mayor Bob Filner after the Mayor received complaints from Councilmember Marti Emerald and her constituents that Centerpoint was more dormitory than a mixed-use development project.

The problem with calling off the crews is that Carmel Partners, the developer, has already received all of the necessary permits and has laid the foundations and footings for the four buildings and on-site parking garage.

Filner now wants the developer to make the necessary changes to the project to ensure nearby residents that the 332-unit building won't turn into a bustling college dorm. In addition to the changes, Filner is asking that the developer obtain city council approval for their project.

In response, Carmel Partners filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Ninth District Court on May 7 ordering the Mayor to stop condo-blocking the project.

"The City, through the Chief Building Official, now refuses to conduct inspections of the construction site, claiming that the existing permits issued by the City are not valid, thereby effectively preventing Centerpoint from continuing with the project," reads a portion of the May 7 lawsuit.

Emails and other missives from city officials cited in the lawsuit show mixed messages on the mixed-use development.

Included in the lawsuit is a March 13 email from newly-retired Director of Development Services Kelly Broughton to an Ninth-District staffer.

"...the Carmel Luxury Apartments projects [sic] complied with all regulations of the...zones and that no discretionary permit was required. A student dormitory requires approval of a Conditional Use Permit, however, this project is not considered a student dormitory. In conclusion, staff had no legal authority to deny the permit for this project."

Councilmember Marti Emerald didn't care for that determination and on the following day issued a memo to Mayor Filner's Office. In it, she continued to push for the mayor to apply the brakes.

"It now appears that this project may really be a sprawling dormitory for upwards of 1100 students who attend San Diego State University. This is the last thing residents of Rolando want encroaching on their quiet neighborhood...I want an immediate halt to this project construction project until we receive an acceptable answer..."

Five days later, the Mayor granted Emerald's request.

In a May 17 news report from 10News, Filner was quoted as saying that the City "made a mistake" in issuing Carmel Partners the permits.

Now, the developer is accusing the City of San Diego of violating their "federal and state constitutional rights to procedural due process and equal protection and is demanding that the City remove the hold and pay for any damages as well as attorney's fees.

On Tuesday, city councilmembers will discuss the case with the City Attorney during a closed session meeting.

Click here to download the lawsuit:


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aardvark May 19, 2013 @ 10:55 p.m.

How much did they pay the city for the permits? According to Mayor Filner, the city, "made a mistake", in issuing the necessary permits. Did they also make a mistake in collecting fees for those permits?


Dorian Hargrove May 20, 2013 @ 8:20 a.m.

Aardvark, I believe, just going off memory from reading the lawsuit, that the developer paid $7 million.


MURPHYJUNK May 21, 2013 @ 1:34 p.m.

Maybe the developer figured their "contributions" to Jerry's campaign would carry them over to Filner's fiefdom.


Visduh May 20, 2013 @ 2:56 p.m.

The plaintiff has a very strong case here, and I'd expect the city to fold. It cannot just "change its mind" in these high-stakes matters, and do a turnaround. The city may be right about the intent of the project, but the permits were paid for and issued.


nostalgic May 20, 2013 @ 5:55 p.m.

Well, Jerry Sanders did it. What about the Sunroad project near Montgomery Field? The mayor appears to be whimsical in the way some of these decisions are reported, but he probably had some legal advice himself before he took action.


Visduh May 21, 2013 @ 8:36 a.m.

"Some" legal advice is likely. But since he and the city attorney are feuding, it is unlikely that Goldsmith will knock himself out to support Filner's action. That Sunroad project was more complex in that there were other players involved, and the FAA was one of those. It was a scandal that endangered the regime locally, and had to be dealt with. This case is just one of pure local political pressure, and in SD such issues usually play out in favor of developers, the nearby homeowners be damned.


kstaff May 21, 2013 @ 12:27 p.m.

As the two or three people who read my blog might surmise, the house I grew up in and still own as a rental is one block from this project. SDSU and its students have always been a mixed blessing to the area. Marti Emerald has been great, but in general we don't have very high expectations for city employees or politicians. Bait and switch on the planning? What do you expect from... a-hem, public servants... who take their cues from developers?

This is the second planned residential high-density housing project within a few blocks of the area. Frankly, whether they know it or not, all concerned would rather have lots of college students in them than... the alternative often found in high-density housing. The population is growing and people have to live somewhere. The project faces El Cajon Blvd. Does anyone seriously wish to argue that there's a more appropriate place for such it? The real issue is parking. PARKING. P-A-R-K-I-N-G.


divadiver May 21, 2013 @ 3:05 p.m.

Kstaff, I think I read that there were over 1000 parking spaces to be included in the project. Therefore no parking problems. The Rolando, El Cerrito, and other College Area residents have repeatedly wished for more goods and services in the area. They would like walkable neighborhood businesses; I've heard requests for Trader Joes or Sprouts, wine bars, sit down restaurants, and retail shopping, to name a few. People need to understand that these businesses depend on population density to survive. The city has repeatedly proposed a "city of villages" concept for urban renewal. That's what the Rolando residents want, too, or they would live in the suburbs. The site on El Cajon and 63rd has been blighted for several years now. Is that better than apartments? Come on people. The reality is that the city needs more housing density to accommodate population growth. Whether some of that housing is occupied by students can't be dictated by NIMBY prejudice. And, after all, if you live near a university, you will have students.


kstaff May 21, 2013 @ 5:49 p.m.

More or less what I was saying, Divadiver. Your last sentence has been the mantra for most of my adult life. The culture of SDSU is part of what Rolando is. It's occasionally annoying but on the balance positive. If you're at the RCC meeting tonight, introduce yourself.


Burwell May 21, 2013 @ 11:21 p.m.

It appears that the city issued permits for the construction of luxury apartments for one or two residents in each apartment. Filner is apparently concerned the developer intends to convert the project into a massive flop house, where students rent individual beds. Cram three or four beds into every room. Charge $3,000 a month for an apartment that would normally rent for $1,800. Sign up six or more students for each apartment and the monthly rent is an affordable $500 per student. The project does not appear to be economically viable as single resident luxury apartments, particularly with the amount of space allocated to parking. The developer is going to have to cram students into the completed building in order to make the construction costs pencil out. Filner is right to halt construction. The project as represented to the city is not economically viable.


kstaff May 22, 2013 @ 7:09 p.m.

Quite a discussion at the RCC (Rolando Community Council) meeting last night. A bureaucrat or two has been ousted/demoted/whatever-you-do-to-a-completely-incompetent-(at best)-bureaucrat over this, which is really quite an accomplishment in itself.

Trouble is, it's the same argument as the pension fiasco. Right, wrong, or just head-poundingly stupid, it's a done deal. Getting it undone will involve endless litigation, and we all know how liberty and justice works around here: he with the most money gets the justice.


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