FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SAN DIEGO – October 9, 2015 – Yesterday, Governor Brown vetoed Assembly Bill 504 (Gonzalez): Local Government Accountability for Planning, Zoning and Permitting, a bill intended to provide taxpayers with public oversight and accountability of community development undertaken by private non-profit entities.
Local labor leaders from the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO and the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO issued the following statements following Governor Brown’s decision.
Richard Barrera, secretary-treasurer of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO:
“Requiring that regular people have a voice in the development of their communities is not a San Diego-specific issue.
The reality is that requiring planning, zoning and permitting functions performed by a non-profit organization (like Civic San Diego) to earn final approval by elected city officials, AB 504 would have provided critical oversight to a now opaque process.
It is the responsibility of our elected City Councilmembers and Mayor Faulconer to ensure that development projects financed by public funds be required to provide public benefits like good local jobs and an opportunity for regular people to have a voice in the development of their own communities.
Special interest groups and corporate lobbyists spent thousands trying to defeat this legislation because they know that the current process allows them to manipulate the rules and make major economic decisions without the input of the people who live and work in areas targeted for development projects.
Working people rely on the state to provide the necessary framework for responsible government – that includes protecting the ability of city officials to fulfill their duty to represent their communities. We are disappointed in this action by the Governor.”
Tom Lemmon, business manager of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO:
“While we are disappointed by the Governor’s decision, which was made under unprecedented lobbying pressure by downtown developers, we agree that the pressing issue of Civic San Diego’s lack of oversight and accountability needs to be addressed locally at this point.
For too long, downtown developers have usurped the land-use authority of government to rubber-stamp permits that only benefit their own bottom-line. It is remarkable that the City of San Diego is content to be the sole municipality in the entire state of California to do business in this way, essentially ceding responsibility for major civic determinations to a private non-profit entity.
We will continue to pursue all options, including our current lawsuit and future legislative remedies to ensure that San Diegan’s have a voice in redevelopment and are included in the decision making process. We are optimistic that our challenge to this authority will prevail, and impacted communities will benefit from this challenge.”
Dr. Murtaza Baxamusa, Civic San Diego (CivicSD) Board member and advocate for working families:
“Presently, CivicSD operates without accountability to the City Council, and thus without accountability to the taxpayers whose dollars it spends. Questions have been raised about potential conflicts of interest between private developers, CivicSD board members, and the stewardship of public resources in the best interest of San Diego communities. Transparency, oversight, and accountability of CivicSD activities must be established if the entity is to continue to exist.”
Background on the outstanding legal complaint against Civic San Diego filed by the San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO:
An outstanding legal complaint remains to be resolved in the San Diego Superior Court against Civic San Diego (CivicSD) and the City of San Diego which was filed by the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council and Dr. Murtaza Baxamusa. The plaintiffs seek to obtain judicial declarations concerning: (1) the scope and oversight of CivicSD; (2) conflicts of interest inherent and internal to CivicSD; (3) the entitlement to a community benefits plan; and (4) the entitlement to a formal appeals process for decisions made by CivicSD.
For questions pertaining to this lawsuit, please contact Steven Coopersmith at: stc@STEVECOOPERSMITHLAW.COM.
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