The Soul of San Diego

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Council President, Council President Pro Tem, Council members, my fellow
San Diegoians, It is an honor and a privilege to address all of you on City Council Agenda Item 206:

I am here to ask that you send this agreement back to staff with the recommendation that the Horton Plaza Developer and Staff come up with an agreement that includes returning the land that makes up the Horton Plaza Project back to the Citizens of San Diego.  

In 1983 I quit my job with the San Diego Housing Commission and ran for Mayor of San Diego. I campaigned on two ideas; term limits and stopping the sale of City owned land. I used Horton Plaza as the justification for both ideas. I argued that term limits and preserving City owned land would stop future projects like Horton Plaza.  I spoke of the misery, the anger, the devastation that the creation of Horton Plaza engendered. Anyone who was alive in the late 70’s knew a family or a business that had been displaced by the land acquisition for Horton Plaza.

Pete Wilson, working with Ernie Hahn and other wealthy San Diegians, had a vision of downtown San Diego. That vision meant they had to take away what was there and build what they wanted. Ernie Hahn brought most of the Horton Plaza land from owners who sold their land under the existing land use. When Hahn had secured the majority of the land he encountered a problem. There were a group of businessmen and home owners who would not sale their land at any cost. Their argument to Mr. Hahn was their family had owned the land for generations it was not for sale it was for their progeny.  These poor people had no idea of the power of “Eminent Domain.” They were forced to sell their land to the City, who gave it away to Hahn. The justification for this robbery was it creates jobs and will transform a blighted property into a place we can all be proud to go to.

Fast forward to today where we have the same swindle with different players.  Westfield cannot keep up the property as called for under the terms of the land lease. Westfield sells out to Stockdale under the existing valuation of the property based on existing zoning. The Horton Plaza Developer goes to the Mayor and City Council with the justification it will create jobs and transform a blighted property into a place we can all be proud to go to. Never mind the increased density, lack of parking and the gift to Developer of the increased valuation of the land.

Last year I filed my intent to run for Mayor of San Diego. I will go to the voters and tell them term limits are not enough we need to change our charter to prohibit the sale of City owned land. I promise the voters of San Diego if I am elected this project will not go forward as it is presently structured.

In 1971 when I was 24 Pete Wilson beat my friend Mayor Frank Curran and became the 29 elected Mayor of San Diego. In the twelve years Pete Wilson was Mayor he gave away over 40,000 acres of City owned land, including Horton Plaza.

because the zoning did not change until all of the land was assembled for the project.

In 1983 during the opening days of his 4th term short of his 4 term as Mayor, Pete Wilson was elected Senator for California. In 1983 I was 36 Working for the San Diego Housing Commission.

The central theme for my campaign was Horton Plaza.

come back with proposal to sell the land back to San Diego.

 in retuwn for

In 1983, I used Horton Plaza to make the point that once we as a City commit the draconian action of eminent domain it is immoral to give that land to a private developer. I campaigned on two promises: terms limits and: a charter change to prohibit the sale of City owned land. Today the idea of term limits is part of the City Charter. Had I been elected Mayor we would not be having this discussion today.

Frank Curran was the last San Diego Mayor who believed that it is a civic duty and honor to represent San Diego as the Mayor.

Pete Wilson, backed by the wealthy developers, orchestrated a phony scandal that enabled him to beat Mayor Curran.  Pete Wilson took a job that paid $5,000 a year and parlayed it into a millionaire lifestyle and a private mansion in LA where he lives today. He sold more than 40,000 acres of City owned land including the project we are discussing here today.  He traded his position for wealth, which is the classic definition of a Plutocrat.

I am here at this kabuki political drama to represent the voters of San Diego. I also speak for the generations of San Diegians who are no longer alive to suffer the indignity of having their homes and businesses taken from them under the guise of the public good. I am here to voice outrage at the political chicanery that this vote is hiding.  

Here is the ugly truth about how Horton Plaza was born

In 1981, thanks to the actions of Mayor Pete Wilson and the City Council, Hahn tripled his net worth.

The definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. The voters of San Diego in the upcoming Mayoral election will have a chance to say no to this abomination of planning and the enrichment of developers. I said it in 1983, and I will say it today. The land of San Diego is priceless. If the developers want the increased density that will make their project work, then structure a land lease that beings the property back to the City in the future. Send this project back to Stockdale and tell them to come up with a formula that will give this land back to the Citizens of San Diego. By doing so, in some very small way we as a City can make amends to the original San Diegians who had their land taken for what we have today.

The difference between me and you is I want to preserve open space and you want to build it out. My task between now and March 5, will be to convince the voters of San Diego, I have a better idea on how to use City Land.

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