Friday, November 28, 2008

Scott Peters' last act of infamy as a City Councilor

Scott Peters' last act of infamy as a City Councilor
by Pat Flannery

A bizarre end to Scott Peters' eight years on the City Council is unfolding. He is using his powers as Council President to finally ram an unwanted 12,000 square foot student center, with a 17,000 square foot garage, on a quiet single family residential neighborhood in La Jolla. For some unknown reason he has pushed this project like a tiger for his entire term in office.

Facing widespread opposition from his own constituents in La Jolla, he managed to get his former law partner, Suzanne Varco, to represent the City in a law suit filed by two La Jolla citizen groups: the Taxpayers for Responsible Land Use and the La Jolla Shores Association. On March 27, 2007 the City lost. Superior Court Judge Linda B. Quinn struck down the City of San Diego's decision to permit this totally inappropriate project.

Peters and the City decided to ignore the court, saying: "it was determined that the applicant would be allowed to resubmit a new application addressing the judge’s concerns, and process it through the City’s review process." Peters docketed the project for a Council hearing on December 2, 2008, his last day on the City Council. Here is the full documentation for the Council Meeting on Tuesday afternoon. Note that the project has been rejected numerous times by the City Planning Commission, the La Jolla Community Planning Association and other local groups.

According to this Peters Doctrine of land use, if a citizen objector sues the City and wins, the City simply invites the applicant to resubmit substantially the same project and call it a new project. The City will then decide what "addresses the judge's concerns", not the judge. That is what Peters has placed before the City Council on Tuesday. They should reject it.

But here is where it gets really bizarre: the City screwed up the public notice regarding the vacation of a right of way that is part of the project's application. Dr. Ross M. Starr, a Professor of Economics at UCSD, sent this email to the City Clerk on November 19th. He noted that after inspecting the site on November 18 "There were no posted notices for the hearing currently docketed for December 2, 2008."
There was however a posted notice dated October 1, 2008 for a hearing on October 16, 2008. Dr. Starr and his friends wisely took pictures of the posted notice on front of a copy of the Union-Tribune for that day, November 18, 2008. Here it is and another showing a wider view of the site.

The City's response was to go out to the site and post this Revised Notice, announcing a special City Council meeting for December 5, 2008. It explained in bold print: "This Posted Notice is being provided in addition to the Posted Notice, previously posted on November 19, 2008. The Hillel of San Diego Student Center Public Right-of-Way Vacation has been noticed for the City Council hearing of December 2, 2008. It is anticipated that this item will be continued until Friday, December 5, 2008."

This means that Council President Scott Peters informed the City's Development Services Department that five Council Members had reached a "collective concurrence", on or before November 21, 2008, to continue Item 343 on the City Council Agenda for Tuesday, December 2, 2008 to a special City Council meeting on Friday December 5, 2008. Such a "collective concurrence" is illegal - in breach of the California Brown Act.

Yet that is exactly what Scott Peters is planning - one final act of infamy on his very last day as a member of the City Council. I hope a sufficient number of his former La Jolla constituents turn up at City Hall on Tuesday December 2, 2008, to deny him this final abuse of elected office.

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