The Sunroad building imbroglio is the latest disaster facing “America’s Finest City.” As we understand the situation, the local developer’s plans to build a 160-foot-high building were approved by the city of San Diego’s planning department before the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a ruling that the building’s height posed a potential safety risk, as the building is within 3 1/2 miles of a regional airport.
The city’s planning department chose not to enforce the FAA guidelines, and the $45 million building’s construction continued undeterred. City attorney Mike Aguirre then tried, unsuccessfully, to issue a warrant to Sunroad’s new VP of development, Tom Story, because he failed to honor the law that prevents former city employees from lobbying former colleagues for one year following employment with the city. Story was former mayor Dick Murphy’s chief of staff.
Adding to the quagmire is the lawsuit Sunroad has brought against the city, because the building’s completion has finally been delayed. On the heels of other multi-million dollar lawsuits that the city is currently facing, San Diego certainly does not need another expensive lawsuit in our already cash-strapped city.
Mayor Jerry Sanders has personally claimed responsibility for the city’s bungling of the Sunroad building. While we applaud his intentions, Jerry hasn’t actually done anything to solve any of the city’s problems. San Diego is still three years behind on city audits, still hasn’t solved the city pension deficit, still can’t borrow on the bond market, still hasn’t received the $100 million owed it by the Centre City Development Corp., still hasn’t fixed our broken streets, and apparently ignored a federal mandate to stop construction on a building within a regional airport zone.
This is not the first time that controversial developments have been allowed in San Diego, despite legal challenges to their legitimacy. While it is certainly easy to want to blame the developers, who seem to perpetually take advantage of our beleaguered city officials, the bottom line is that the mayor and the planning department of San Diego are responsible for managing development in this city. If not the mayor and city planners, exactly who should manage San Diego’s development issues?
Come on, Jerry. Get to work!