What a difference a campaign cycle apparently makes for Mayor 1Goal.
In September 2000, just two months before his inaugural election as top politico in town, the mayor signed and commented on a multi-pronged campaign pledge drafted by perennial mayoral candidate and environmental activist Jim Bell of Ocean Beach. Randy Berkman of the River Valley Preservation Project was kind enough to send along a copy of the signed pledge to CityBeat.
The mayor, according to item No. 3 of the pledge, not only promised to “develop a land-use plan that protects and preserves our city and region's remaining most valuable plant/animal habitats and their linkages,” but he also robustly concurred with item No. 4: “Stop the development of our city's 100-year floodplains.”
The item continued: “This is only logical. Floodplains eventually flood; they are also subject to liquefaction during earthquakes, in addition to the lost of life and property that floodplain development will inevitably bring....”
Based on the copy provided by Berkman, the mayor not only signed on to the principles, he also added his own take-albeit politically tinged.
Mayor 1Goal's hand-printed comments read in part: “I will have the independence to fight for the land use goals set forth in principles No. 3 and No. 4 because I am not endorsed by the Building Industry Association and have not received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from developers.”
So, he jumps on the keep-floodplains-clear bandwagon and manages to take a swipe at his then-opponent, county Supervisor Ron Roberts. What else should we expect in the heat of political battle, right?
But what galled people like Berkman was Murphy's bandwagon jump-off July 15 when he joined City Council colleagues and fellow floodplain ravagers Charles Lewis, Jim “MadDog 2020” Madaffer and soon-to-be-ex-deputy-mayor Ralphie Inzunza in backing the American Automobile Club of Southern California's plans for new office space on Hotel Circle Place, just a stone's throw from the San Diego River in Mission Valley.
Murphy has spent plenty of time at photo opportunities endearing himself to the San Diego River. Not much of an environmentalist, Mayor 1Goal nevertheless gained the backing of the Sierra Club during the 2000 election. Since then, the club has greatly benefited from the mayor's appointment of several club members to some choice committees and boards.
The July 15 council vote ended in a 4-4 tie because Councilmember Scott Peters was said to be lobbying on transportation matters in Washington, D.C. that day. The tie meant that an earlier Planning Commission blessing of the project would stand.
By press time, no one from the Peters camp returned a CityBeat e-mail asking how the councilman would have voted on the AAA project, but either way, Berkman said he's been told the mayor will not be rescheduling the matter for another vote. The mayor's spokesperson also did not respond to a CityBeat query.
Certainly, the AAA folks showed little concern for the project's impact on the river. The city nicked the Automobile Club for more than $35,000 in fines after AAA had moved ahead last September with demolition at the 2.2-acre site as well as the driving of more than 430 stone pilings into the sensitive area, all without the necessary permits. Shameful behavior, to say the least, considering the area is home to the endangered least Bell vireo.
Let's see if the Sierra Club is so understanding of the mayor's vote come next year's election cycle.
So, the Union-Tribune gets all warm and fuzzy about the deal between the city and the Padres over the much-publicized Park at the Park portion of the rising downtown ballpark. This week, the U-T came to the defense of city negotiators who had bent over-we're not sure if backwards-to seal a deal in which the cash-strapped city would fork over $4 million to expand what had become a relatively puny 1.6-acre, beyond-the-outfield park.
Noting that some ballpark observers thought the city had “rolled over” to Padres desires, the U-T lovingly embraced the team's pronouncement that it would be building and maintaining the 2.7-acre park on its own dime-well, 20 million dimes, to quote a Padres development official.
When the City Council gathers Aug. 5 to debate the deal-it essentially has the city buying back property that the council four years ago agreed to sell to the Padres for $3.5 million so they could build three high-rises-consider the thoughts of one city insider.
“First, this park will be under the control of the Padres,” he told CityBeat this week, “under lock-and-key control on game days. Of course, they will want to maintain it, just as they will the playing field....”
But, the insider said, the deal allows the Padres to “wriggle off the hook” in terms of providing tax-generating retail space-upwards of 150,000 square feet of it. “Murphy's weasel-worded statement said this requirement had not been cancelled, but that it would occur later and in a different location-right,” the insider huffed. “In the meantime, the city and CCDC [the city's downtown redevelopment arm] are losing several million dollars a year.”
The insider also noted that the U-T glossed over the legal ramifications of another element of the deal-giving the Padres the right to sell at a tidy profit the two outfield parcels the team gained through eminent domain-“in violation of redevelopment law,” the insider argued.
The city thinks it has a legal opinion that somehow shows the Padres actually losing money based on the total acreage the team has acquired for the redevelopment project to date, but the insider isn't buying that I've-got-some-swampland explanation.
“Yeah, right,” he huffed again.