CCDC to make Petco payments

Downtown San Diego’s redevelopment arm will make the payments on the bonds used to finance the construction of Petco Park for the next five years, under an agreement approved Tuesday by the City Council.

The agreement calls for the Centre City Development Corp. to pay $11.3

million annually for five years, or a total of $56.6 million of the $153 million in outstanding ballpark bond debt.

Having CCDC pay the Petco Park bonds instead of using the city’s general fund was proposed by Mayor Jerry Sanders’ office in December as a way to help close a $43 million mid-year budget shortfall.

While acknowledging the “renaissance” CCDC has had on the

redevelopment of downtown, Councilman Carl DeMaio said general fund money shouldn’t be used to pay for the construction of Petco Park.

“I support CCDC, DeMaio said. “I believe that by any measure, CCDC

has generated a wonderful return on investment for the taxpayers.”

Despite that, DeMaio said he found it “inappropriate to suggest that

the general fund taxpayers should be paying for a baseball park out of the city’s annual operating budget.”

At DeMaio’s urging, the City Council also voted to direct CCDC to report back with a long-term plan to repay the Petco Park bonds beyond 2014, once concerns over how San Diego spent federal grants is resolved.

An audit in January found that the city failed to properly administer

millions in grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The city may have to reimburse those funds.

The City Council also directed CCDC report back on possibly extending a cap on the amount of tax increment funding it is allowed to collect, thereby

potentially boosting the life of the agency.

Following a scandal involving the CCDC’s past president, questions arose regarding the future of the agency. Extending the tax increment funding cap could secure CCDC’s ongoing presence as downtown San Diego’s redevelopment agency.