Looking for San Diego news to blog about, I notice the extent to which news regarding rich hoteliers looms large locally. Perhaps because tourism is so important to the local economy, we see so many stories.
1. Evans Hotels was recently granted an extension to the lease of the Bahia Resort land on Mission Bay for another 21 years under circumstances that call into question the real motives of the council. Andrew Keatts at VOSD has the story. The $75,000 annual payment doesn’t seem like much for such a choice location, but I am no expert. I really distrust any “public-private” venture. Rich business interests can easily use influence and donations to get good deals that wouldn’t be available in a free market where another private party owned the land. I would like to see the city sell the land at auction and use the money to make up pension shortfalls.
2. Dave Maass seems to have taken a particular dislike to Doug Manchester, local financier famous for developing the Manchester Hyatt downtown, ever since Manchester purchased the U-T. Most recently Maass reported that Manchester’s company admitted to violating FCC regulations on cell phone boosters. I have responsibility for cell phone contracts where I work, so I can understand Manchester’s frustrations with coverage. But we successfully worked with a vendor to fix the problem, we never considered taking matters into our own hands, even though we had access to technology to do so. But Maass seems really intent on making Manchester look bad, so I wonder where that animus comes from.
3. I previously posted about Filner’s illegal attempt to repurpose hotel tax revenue for “public safety.” The tax was approved by the city council prior to Filner’s inauguration, another 39 years, to be specific. It is highly unlikely that the new mayor could make such a change now, according to the VOSD, because of the restrictions on fees that can be passed without a public vote.
Why do hotels attract attention, political and otherwise in San Diego? I guess, because that’s where the money is.
The Evans sweetheart hotel leases are a long-time scandal in San Diego. And yet the press continues to ignore the obvious giveaway of public property to favored private parties.
How would YOU like to rent a huge chunk of primo bayside property for $6,250 a month? If this lease were put out to competitive bid, the city would receive AT LEAST ten times more per month. Probably a LOT more.
Given our city politicians’ cavalier view towards maximizing the taxpayers’ return on city land, you’d think we had a city budget surplus. Only delusional ex-mayors think that such is the case.
In fairness to the Evans family, they are not the only folks with such sweetheart city deals. The SeaWorld lease is far below market. I presume that so too is the Mission Bay Hilton lease. And, of course, there’s the Mission Bay “mobile” home park with its insanely low monthly lease rates.
How does this happen? Perhaps a review of the political contributions of the Evans family would give us some hint of the cause and effect relationship underlying this giveaway.
I HATE to say this, but perhaps Mayor Filner is independent enough that he can lead the charge to end this cozy crony capitalism. I suspect the Evans family has been no friend of Filner’s efforts in the past, thus giving Comrade Bob some incentive to do the right thing.
Speaking of delusional . . . .
Regarding my last post:
In hindsight, I must apologize to all of you who I somehow failed to insult in in that rant.
Fear not. Odds are, you’re on my “to do” list! 🙂