Councilman Ed Harris: Why He Rejected the Proposed Lease for Belmont Park – “It’s Pathetic.”

by on September 23, 2014 · 17 comments

in Culture, Economy, Environment, History, Ocean Beach, Politics, San Diego

North end of Belmont Park

Harris: “We can’t keep giving away our assets to big business.”

Just got off the phone with Councilman Ed Harris –  he represents OB, Mission Beach and the rest of District 2, of course.

He had a lot to say about the Belmont Park lease that the City Council just rejected on Monday.  He knew that we’d been covering the issue. Today, the U-T ran an article on the rejection, tacking in favor of the current managers, it seemed.  Harris wanted to set the record straight.

Harris, you see, led a Council majority yesterday in rejecting the proposed new lease for Pacifica Enterprises because the cut the City is getting is not fair.  All the Democrats followed his lead (Emerald was out) and are having the issue return to the Council in 60 days.  The Republicans all voted to renew the current lease.

“We have to take in the big picture,” Harris told me. “We can’t keep giving away our assets to big business,” he said.

Why is the deal that the City of San Diego has in the current lease for Belmont Park not fair?

“The City has received $1.6 Million dollars in 26 years – that’s only $5,000 a month,” he said. “It’s pathetic.”

Aerial view of Belmont Park. Does it contain 70,000 square feet, or 85,000, or even 76,000?

He and the other Council members were handed a 98-page contract the other day to approve, a very confusing document.

“I’ve been getting different sets of numbers,” he said about the square footage covered by the lease – “from the staff, the [Park] managers.  Can’t get solid numbers of the square footage. It’s been 70,000, up to 85,000 – and last night it was 76,000.”

“That’s only 60 cents to $1.24 a square foot.  It should be $2 to $3 a square foot.”

Why, he said, one could go to Costco near Pacific Beach but across I-5, and rent a storage unit for $2.85 a square foot.  Yet the City is getting only as low as 60 cents a square foot on prime beach property.

The lease agreed to in 1988 did not allow for any accountability, Harris said, to ensure that the City gets paid.

“My colleagues” Harris continued, referring to those who voted for the current lease, “like it. They say it pays for police and the fire department. But how does it pay for first responders?” he asked.  In fact, he said, local merchants and small businesses are paying for private security in Ocean Beach, and BIDs are created to clean streets and sidewalks.  His point being that its the small merchants that are taking up the slack that the City lets go – as it doesn’t have enough revenue for the needed police and fire protection.

If the City got more revenues from this lease, that would pay for police and fire, he reiterated.

South end

Harris said his Republican colleagues on the Council are worried about the Plunge, because Pacifica asserted it wouldn’t get the needed renovations. But Harris said the tax payers will be paying for 100% of all the improvements the Plunge needs – through tax credits to the Park’s lessee.  The tax  credits come out of the 5% revenue the City receives under the current lease.   Pacifica would do the work.

Whether the City pays Pacifica to make them or the City hires an outside contractor to do them, the Plunge will get its needed renovations.

“We’re going into a new era,” Harris told me. “Vacation rentals have gone off the charts in Mission Beach,”  he said. Belmont Park is set up due to its locale to earn big monies, and the City should be getting a fair shake.

So, in the end Harris couldn’t approve the lease.”We could be paying for first responders, firemen, police officers,”  he said – with the extra revenue from the lease. He said:

“The City is a huge landlord. It has to quit giving away our own assets.”


{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Seth September 23, 2014 at 1:04 pm

I like this guy.


Debbie September 23, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Agreed Seth! This guy has brains and balls!

I know RAG readers do not like reference to the UT…however; more info is here

Our up and coming council person Ms. Zapf loved the deal???? And Pacifica wanted to bring in Valet Parking!!!!

It will be sad to Mr. Harris to represent the beaches. Maybe a recall will be fitting for Zapf if she continues this behavior?

Anyhow, I am going to watch the council meeting on tape and just see what was said by who to who.

Mr. Harris you did good today!


Mari September 23, 2014 at 3:20 pm

I do too!! :-)


Leecal September 23, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Way to go, Councilman Harris !!!!!!

Hope you can also increase the parking and make it FREE !!!!!!!
Sans Zapf. What a scoundrel she continues to be .
YEA San Diego City Council !!!!!!! Be sure to tell your friends in the 6th District to vote


Randy Smith September 23, 2014 at 5:59 pm

Two years ago there was rampant drug use and alcohol abuse at the park at their Sunday rave parties. Now you can jog the boardwalk without side stepping the vomit in the morning. The local police love the new operators since there call for service are down 90% and they can dedicate time to the rest of us on the weekends. According to the UT these guys have already put in 25 million and rents are up 50%. Where is the bad news here?

Does anyone on the council understand basic investment strategy? I thought not.


Geoff Page September 24, 2014 at 9:43 am

Interesting comment. The implication is that the former operators were lousy because of drug and alcohol abuse at the park and the new guys have cleaned it all up? And the “local police,” assuming you mean the SDPD loves the new operators? Where do you get all this information? Service calls down 90%? What does any of this have to do with requiring the operators to pay a more realistic lease for the property?


Tyler September 24, 2014 at 9:58 am

It has nothing to do with it. His post made no sense at all. Apparently basic investment strategy is to get the city government to subsidize your costs due to an obsolete agreement from the 80s.


fstued September 24, 2014 at 8:52 am

Unfortunate that he can run and we’ll be stuck with Zapf has a result


Frank Gormlie September 24, 2014 at 10:15 am

… and don’t forget, Zapf voted for the current lease – another bonus to a big business. hiya doin?


John Loughlin September 24, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Thank you Councilmember Ed Harris!

Rob the Poor Feed the Rich, that’s the theme of our next meeting at the Point Loma Assembly this Sunday at 4pm. Everyone’s invited to learn more about the culture that allows the transfer of public assets to private groups.

Cory Briggs will be talking about TOT and TMD, and Linda Perine will discuss Who Runs San Diego? and why the so-called Taxpayers Association is not looking out for us.

More details here


Debbie September 24, 2014 at 6:50 pm

It was interesting to watch this meeting to listen to who said what, how they said it and what the meant when they said it. Watch it for yourself.

For an oceanfront piece of property, the City of San Diego AKA you and me, has only collected annual rental income of $61,000 averaged. No, that number is not missing a zero! That’s $5,083 per month.

No matter who takes over the lease, the city is on the hook to pay for the repairs to the Plunge. Prior lessees were responsible for maintenance but that didn’t always happen and the city did little to enforce the terms of the lease and now the Plunge is a mess! If Pacifica does the repairs they get a rent credit. If Pacific does not do the repairs, the city can hire a contractor to get the work done and issue a bond for the repairs. The bond premiums can be paid from the rental income which the lessee will no longer be entitled to receive. Yes, Pacifica has done many improvements of the property but they let the athletic club close and allowed the Plunge to further deteriorate. Why should the city believe they won’t continue this practice?

Another issue….seismic retro fit standards need to be met. How does that affect repairs and opening of the plunge?

There are 23 years left on the existing lease and Pacifica wants it extended to 50 years. The lease is NOT favorable to the city and as one intelligent speaker mentioned, the lease is too cheap and a 50 year lease is more sell-able than usable. Assignment of the lease does not require city council approval. So Pacifica is free to sell the lease at anytime to anyone as the current lease is written.

Councilwoman Lightner – led they way on questions and backed up Councilman Harris

Councilman Sherman insinuated because Councilman Harris was appointed he had no business “to jack this up”. I guess if you are appointed you are suppose sit in council meeting like a bump on a log???

Council President mentioned a few times that everyone should be respectful of Councilman Harris and that he DOES represent his district.

Councilwoman Zapf who at times does not finish a sentence or thought, throws her hands up repeatedly saying; “it’s a good deal for the taxpayer” and “it’s a fantastic deal”. It was important to Zapf to get the deal done, extend the lease and make sure Pacifica wraps up their deal to acquire the roller coaster also.

The mayor’s office is in love with the proposed deal. So is the lessor of the roller coaster who is anxious to get rid of their lease.

Other similar municipal leases such as Santa Monica pier have higher rent % and shorter terms.

Me thinks…the city should put the contract out to bid. Ask the lessee of the Santa Monica Pier if they are interested along with other successful municiple lessees and let’s make sure that the San Diego Taxpayer is getting the best deal…..don’t make this another Corky McMillin deal.


Frank Gormlie September 24, 2014 at 9:40 pm

I want editordude to post this as a “Reader Rant” okay?


Debbie September 24, 2014 at 10:07 pm



Debbie September 24, 2014 at 10:08 pm

Fix spelling though on “municiple” and whatever else! TX


JR September 26, 2014 at 8:28 pm

BRAVO to U San Diego Councilman Ed HARRIS. . .

Seemingly in print the “PATHETIC” article reads to at least U being more than awake; U have smarts & wits about U.

Including to U asking probing questions, this about what is really the net income vs. the present & future rent lease details re this Belmont Park lease vs. to what Ed Harris’s Council person colleague’s, Sherman & Zaph who say it’s what, (the Belmont Park extension); “it’s a wonderful lease proposal & it should pass!”

And the devil, U know, the devil deep in lease terms re any income to the City of SD & the details stuff, how much is it to be, much more where is it, how is it to be generated & when?

So was it in the present or modified lease details that Council persons SHERMAN & ZAPH have blessed?

How about the CPA audited & certified investment proforma presumably presented way back to the CITY by the present Lessee re their “money-making lease,” this for the City of SD re the Belmont Park land?

Seemingly by ways of veiled threats, is this extension request from PACIFICA ENTERPRISES, (a tony Rancho Santa Fe outfit whose company officers & staff last names read, (Luca, Corleoni) to belong in a GODFATHER film), are they for real, this whoever are the real Pacifica Chieftains are to now begin their political arm twisting?

Whose political arms & necks will be next, this if not blessing it, (the lease extension) and the Pacifica proforma swallowed by some of the City Council, it was more than Mexican beer, right?

Does it not seem to be the time to raise a red flag & ask for a public inquisition of these USD Catholic trained real estate mafioso’s, ones who are setting up what, a legitimate flip & switch enterprise on City of San Diego land @ Belmont Park, where the citizens of San Diego more than likely will soon be taking the hits?

Jump back SD Council persons, this to you all creating a real world development deal, one which will have “PROVEN” track record AAA to AA tenants. Hire an experienced real bay-beach-side developer, (like ones in Newport Beach.) It’s not too late to either rescind it or buy out PACIFICA, who appear to be nothing more than commercial lease flip artists & they will do so after they’ve extracted every $$$ from the proposed tenants & of course the City of SD.

Of all the commercial real estate deals, be they existing or to be developments on City of San Diego land, this the ground leases the SD Council has green lighted in the past, how many times does it take for U all to realize, the City of SD is getting screwed. . .again? In essence the City Council is passing the next development-flip & switch screw-job onto the citizens of SD, this by looting their pocketbooks & depriving specifically Mission Beach owners/residents of recreational eat, meet & speak locations for peace of minds!

Did this extension-modification to the Belmont Park lease pass the sniff-test by the illusory City Attorney, Mister Goldsmith? And if so, he must have had a case of pneumonia when he gave the City Council the green light to do it, as it smells from where I am, this 100 miles away, this to be a public soaking, and not in parking lot puddles, but perhaps someone in office swimming offshore with the fishes, this if the lease extension request is not granted to Pacifica!

Sleep well, Mission Beach residential & commercial owners, residents & tenants. For is this not, this Pacifica beach sandlot show to become another sad joke on all, plus the City of San Diego & of course in time certain City Councilpersons who are being used/had/paid off under the tables again? Guess!

Go Get’em Ed HARRIS!

Strip them down Ed, then nail their back stabbing naked arses to the Mission beach boardwalk front walls, this so all decent & respectable Mission Beach owners & SD residents, (yes, there are many who still live there), this to open their eyes to see who these crooks really are, politicians included. This in calling out their hollow-talk matching their false bravado walk, ones who will say & do anything to make a buck & almost always at the expense of SD Citizens. This when it comes to their “promoting” a commercial development deal on City of SD land, just like this Belmont Park lease matter, one which pretty much like the last lessee will float out to sea & without a surfboard, dinghy or on a raft.

Buenas Suerte & Salud. . . .


Debbie October 1, 2014 at 12:17 pm

City Beat is on this issue also. Does anyone know how the lawsuit was settled and exactly what role Pacifica played in the settlement for which they gave themselves a pat on the back”. Is Lochtefeld now employed by Pacifica????

” Tom Lochtefeld, who last year settled a $25-million lawsuit over his bankruptcy that he contended occurred due to the city’s refusal to consider his plan for a hotel.

While the terms of the settlement were never revealed, the issue still hovered over last week’s council like a black cloud. De Luca reminded the council that since taking over the lease in 2012, Pacifica “played a significant role in dismissing a lawsuit to the tune of about $25 million against the city.”


Debbie April 5, 2015 at 8:39 pm

If anyone is interested…..Brett Miller along is getting Ms. Zapf’s support for the Belmont Park give away…..


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