ALAMEDA, Calif. — San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders has pulled the plug on one of his pet projects.
Citing the lack of financial support for the campaign, Sanders cancelled a ballot measure asking San Diego voters to authorize a new civic center and city hall to be financed partly with municipal bonds.
Sanders said Thursday that he would veto the ordinances to place the measure on the November ballot, even though he previously lobbied the City Council to approve them.
“While I still believe that building a new civic center makes financial sense,” Sanders said in a news release, “I received a letter today from Gerding-Edlen Development, the project developer, requesting that this measure be removed from the November ballot.”
The office of San Diego’s budget analyst, in a report to the City Council in June, said the proposal assumed the issuance of around $320 million of 30-year fixed-rate lease revenue bonds, probably in late 2011. Details would not have been finalized until voters approved the project.
Shirley Horton, president of the Downtown San Diego Partnership, said the cost-benefit analysis for the proposed civic center redevelopment is complicated, and the project does not easily lend itself to the concise, dynamic sound bites required by a successful political campaign.
The partnership, a downtown business organization, also found “that continued impacts of the recession have made it extremely difficult to secure significant commitments to fund a campaign to educate the voters,” Horton told the mayor.
Sanders announced an agreement with Gerding-Edlen in June to build a new 19-story civic center next to the aging City Hall.
He said the deal would save money in the long run, despite the $293.5 million cost, because San Diego would no longer have to pay rent for the departments moved into the consolidated civic center.
The government would also save $37 million in maintenance for aging city-owned buildings.
In its letter to Sanders, developer Gerding-Edlen said the requirement for a public vote had been added after the negotiating process began.
“We believe that the most insurmountable challenge is the lack of an identifiable source to fund the campaign,” said the letter, signed by managing principal Kelly Saito.