By Pat Sherman
A report from online news source
that showed Mitt Romney’s La Jolla home rebuild plans include an elevator for his cars generated big buzz in political circles last week.
Four years ago, the Republican presidential frontrunner’s property holdings were seen as a liability when he was being considered as a vice-presidential running mate for then GOP nominee John McCain. At the time, they owned 14 homes between the two of them, six belonging to Romney.
Romney’s rebuild plans include a 3,600-square foot basement, which is larger that the current living space of the home, located at 311 Dunemere Dr.
Speaking with the
La Jolla Light
last week San Diego attorney Matthew A. Peterson, who is representing Romney in the city's permitting proces, downplayed any implied extravagance and significance of the car elevator.
“These are used all the time,” Peterson said. “Public parking lots up in Los Angeles have them. … Here, obviously, it’s going to be in an enclosed garage, so you’re not going to see any of the mechanism. … People are making a bigger deal over it now, obviously, because he’s a (political) target.”
Peterson said a home renovation on Spindrift Drive in La Jolla Shores was recently approved with a car lift.
“The neighbors wanted to make sure there was plenty of parking off the street and not visible from the street,” he said.
Romney’s neighbors on the tight Dunemere Drive cul de sac had similar concerns about parking, which Peterson said led to the addition of the car lift.
“A few of the neighbors had concerns with the number of kids and grandkids (Romney) has and said there’s going to be parking issues — we want you to provide as much parking as possible on the property, so me and the architects came up with the idea of having a car (lift),” he said.
“The neighbors were very pleased with that because, technically, we could have provided that extra parking on the street. The code allows that.”
The La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee approved Romney’s plans in December 2010, and the La Jolla Community Planning Group followed, giving the project its unanimous support in January of 2011.
Romney has paid Peterson $21,500 since 2008 to lobby city officials for the renovation, Politico reported. Peterson said tightening of the city’s lobbying ordinance has required many people not previously considered lobbyists to register as such with the city.
“The city of San Diego has very tight rules in terms of who has to register as a lobbyist and who doesn’t,” he said. “There’s an extremely low threshold … so I register for every one of my clients and disclose what they paid me on a quarterly basis. … What I’ve done for (Romney) is just land use permitting and processing. Obviously, he’s busy running a presidential campaign and doesn’t have time — nor does his wife — to be working on a house remodel.”
Peterson said Romney requested that he put the permitting process on hold for the time being. “I don’t think he’s going to start that process again anytime soon,” Peterson said.
“If he gets the nomination, obviously, he’s not going have time to deal with it during the presidential race.
"Once (the process) starts again, I would figure we’d have the permits probably done within a couple months.”