It’s doubtful that many La Jollans will miss Jim Waring, but his sudden resignation/ firing from his post as one of Mayor Jerry Sanders’ top advisors shouldn’t inspire anyone to believe that things are truly changing at City Hall.
It looks like Waring is playing the classic “fall guy” role in the lingering controversy over the Sunroad building near Montgomery Field. The La Jolla Light took the position months ago in these pages that the Mayor’s office appeared, at least, negligent and, at worst, corrupt in allowing the Sunroad project to move forward for months after it was revealed that the building exceeded height limits set by federal aviation officials. When the mayor finally ordered that the building be brought down to the federally mandated height, the issue seemed resolved to the extent that “what took so long” was the major remaining question.
Then Waring decided to pursue the issue further. He approached City Councilwoman Donna Frye about supporting a proposal to allow a few more feet of height on the building than what Sanders had ordered - a meeting that apparently cost him his job. We can’t imagine what possessed Waring to pursue such a course. Sanders stood idly by for a long time while the Sunroad building grew from the ground, until complaints from the public that he was favoring Sunroad’s developers - who contributed to his campaign - over public safety grew too loud to ignore. Reopening that debate was a terrible idea on Waring’s part, and one that he apparently hatched himself.
But La Jollans already know that Waring has a tendency to take matters into his own hands. When the city called the La Jolla Community Planning Association down to City Hall and threatened to take away its official certification as a planning group, it was Waring testifying against the CPA. At the time, many wondered why the mayor’s top land use and economic development advisor was taking the time to involve himself in a bylaw dispute for a community planning group - one of dozens in the city. In the end, the decertification threat was hardly real and the whole ordeal seemed to be a new front in the ongoing feud between the mayor’s people and City Attorney Michael Aguirre.
Waring had earned a reputation for being confrontational, and his handling of the La Jolla CPA and Sunroad matters was clumsy. But he was not operating in a vacuum - he was one of the mayor’s closest staffers. We think his rocky tenure and the bizarre nature of his dismissal - Waring saying from vacation in Iceland that he was fired, Sanders saying from vacation in Hawaii that he quit - says less about Waring himself and more about the office he leaves behind.