The San Diego City Council voted in closed session yesterday to sue Navy Broadway Complex developer Doug Manchester. At issue is the question of indemnity. The city says Manchester has to pay its legal costs resulting from any Navy-Broadway-related lawsuits, Manchester says he doesn't.
A lawyer in the City Attorney's office, Malinda Dickenson, who is handling the case, said a 1992 development agreement between the Navy and the city, and Manchester's lease with the Navy both call for Manchester to indemnify the city in the event of a lawsuit.
There's a spotlight on the question because San Diego, Manchester and the Centre City Development Corporation, which administers downtown redevelopment for the city, have all been named in a suit filed in January by the Navy Broadway Complex Coalition, a citizens group. The lawsuit insists that the project has not been given a proper and up-to-date environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act. Shortly after the the suit was filed, the city asked Manchester to begin covering its costs, and Manchester refused. CityBeat called both Manchester Development President Perry Dealy and Manchester's attorney, Steven Strauss, for comment, but neither has responded.
The Navy-Broadway project has been a source of serious controversy for the last two years, but many of the hurdles have been cleared. In 1992, the city and the Navy agreed that the Navy could lease out a parcel of land along the downtown waterfront as long as the design met certain goals laid out by the city. The agreement was extended several times, including an extension in 2005, when many in San Diego worried the land would be lost to the U.S. Defense Department. Last year, the Navy came to an agreement with Manchester. In exchange for a 99-year lease on the Navy-owned property at Broadway south of Pacific highway, Manchester would build a new headquarters building for the Navy. Manchester's design for the land, which included several tall buildings, was derided by critics as a monstrosity that would wall off San Diego Bay. Over time, those critics coalesced into the Navy Broadway Complex Coalition.