by Pat Flannery / Blog of San Diego/ Originally posted August 19, 2010
This is the dirty Agreement that is spawning multiple lies about the Embarcadero Oval Park. The fact is that a Panamanian company, the Carnival Corporation, advanced the Port District $12 million at 4.5% interest to construct two home ports, one on B. Street Pier and one on Broadway Pier. The sole source of funds for repayment of this loan, which must be repaid in full by April 30, 2015, shall be a Special Facility Fee charged to each passenger while Carnival branded vessels will receive preferential berthing rights.
The problem is that the Port District has contractually committed itself to obtaining a Coastal Development Permit for the Broadway Pier terminal. This is the genesis of the lies and cheating that are going on. Most of the lies revolve around moving a previously planned 2.5 acre Oval Park right in front of Broadway Pier, which if not removed will make cruise ship operations on Broadway Pier impossible.
Lie # 1 is that the Oval Park was never part of the original Port Master Plan (PMP). That it was in fact part of the PMP is well documented and fully accepted by the Coastal Commission.
Lie # 2 is that moving the Oval Park would not trigger a PMP Amendment. The Port wants to move it out of the way of the servicing trucks to the Broadway Cruise Ship Terminal. Coastal Commission staff is clear that such a move would require a PMP Amendment.
Lie # 3 is that activist objections are merely about the size of a waterfront park not about preserving its vital location blocking cruise ship operations on Broadway Pier. I and others believe that to move the Oval Park is to permit a Cruise Line Terminal on Broadway Pier.
The alternative is quite simple: implement the original North Embarcadero Visionary Plan (NEVP), as incorporated into the PMP, before the Carnival Company upended the Plan by buying itself a cruise ship terminal on Broadway Pier. There is lots of room for cruise ships at a much more suitable location, the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal (TAMT).
The Port has launched a media blitz spearheaded by a series of public “workshops” during the rest of August. These workshops are akin to public meetings discussing the size of a burial plot and the height of a memorial for a man who has already been condemned to death. His guilt has been decided. Similarly, retaining the Oval Park in its present location is not an option in these workshops. Its demise has already been decided by the Port.
It may all come down to funding. Those opposed to a cruise ship terminal on Broadway Pier like myself, will fight to prevent the entire project so long as it includes the implementation of what we consider a corrupt bargain with Carnival.
The $12 million from Carnival will only partially fund the cruise ship terminal on Broadway Pier. The Port will have to find the remaining approximately $8 million. After that it has no more money for the NEVP project. It is interesting that the Port only has money for Carnival.
Implementation of the non-cruise ship portion of the NEVP will have to come from the City of San Diego through its Redevelopment Agency. CCDC, who administers redevelopment money in that area, has already earmarked the money. Nevertheless, before CCDC can write the check it will require a vote at City Council. That is where the deciding battle will be fought.
Kevin Faulconer is expected to make the argument for spending CCDC money. Carl DeMaio, his reputed rival in the 2012 mayoral race, will argue strongly that if the Port wants its NEVP so bad, it should pay for it. The City is tapped out. It should be an interesting fight.
Now there is a proposal on the table for the City to buy land from the Navy just north of the Lane Field project for approximately $20 million to facilitate extra park space. Will Kevin Faulconer be expected to find that money too? If he does, DeMaio will murder him politically. If he doesn’t, where will the extra space come from. One other proposal is to further narrow Harbor Drive. All this to fulfill a promise to a Panamanian cruise ship company.
What makes it all the more intriguing is that Kevin Faulconer is its unlikely champion. Fundamentally the NEVP project is union-driven. It is about temporary construction jobs and long-term hotel jobs. It’s main supporters, Steve Cushman and Scott Peters are long-time union trustees. The union most involved in the NEVP is Unite Here. It represents hotel workers and gaming workers. Yes, gaming workers. Are you shocked that there is gaming on these cruise ships? There is big money in gaming. Perhaps that is why some supporters of cruise ships on the Embarcadero are so motivated. Cruise ships could become floating casinos for bay front hotels making San Diego “Las Vegas by the Sea”. That may be the dream of some.
The enormous amount of money (which it says it doesn’t have) the Port is spending to obtain a permit for a revised NEVP that includes a Broadway Pier cruise ship terminal, is wasted. The Port must know that endless appeals and court filings still lie ahead. Perhaps it is merely trying to avoid being sued by showing Carnival that it did everything possible (including lying) to get a coastal permit. That would be the kindest interpretation of what is going on.
The wise move at this stage is to do a deal with Carnival reversing the dirty deal that is causing all this expense and risk. Then the NEVP could proceed as originally planned. We will have to wait and see just how dirty the Carnival deal really was. We will have to wait and see just how far its proponents are willing to go to ram it through. Much will depend on Kevin Faulconer, the unlikely champion of a massive union gig. Or is it something more?
Go here for the original article.