City Council Votes to Sign Controversial Belmont Park Lease

by on April 8, 2015 · 0 comments

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

Belmont ParkBy a vote of 7 to 2 on Monday, April 6, the San Diego City Council approved the controversial amended lease agreement for Belmont Park.  With only Sherri Lightner of District 1 and David Alvarez of District 8 voting against it, the approved lease covers the long-term operation and maintenance of Belmont Park, Plunge pool, and Giant Dipper, the wooden roller coaster.

District 2’s Lori Zapf voted for it and then later made this statement:

“As everyone has pointed out, this isn’t just Mission Beach, this is a regional asset, an historic part of our city that people had described as seedy, dilapidated and crime-ridden. And now, it’s just blossomed into an area where people are proud to bring (visitors).”

Ed Harris, the former council rep for District 2, had made the lease an issue last fall, citing insufficient terms for the City and its taxpayers, labeling the so-called deal “pathetic”. Harris remains very critical, alleging that nothing really has changed since the Council balked on it 6 months ago, except the numbers have been moved around.

Harris, who is running for the 78th Assembly seat despite Todd Gloria’s recent announcement of intent to campaign for the same, told the OB Rag, that the so-called “new and improved” lease –

“kept in valet parking in the public lot which is paid parking at the beach. They also kept in concessions on the sand. They plan to serve food on the public beach.”

Here is more from Ed Harris:

Belmont Park is another failure for our elected officials to represent the will of the people.  It is clear that we will be sued.  …  Why do we ignore the will of the people and pass things that we must defend in court?  My understanding is that valet parking was included in the lease which, in my opinion, opens the door for paid parking at the beach.

For consideration by the Council before they voted, Harris sent this statement:

Please register this letter as my opposition to granting a new or extended lease for Belmont Park.  If possible, I would like this read into the record.

While serving as the District 2 Councilmember, numerous issues were raised about the Belmont Park property and its use.  It is my belief that the current use and current proposal violate Proposition G.

Extending this lease is a flagrant violation of the will of the people.  While serving District 2, I requested a legal opinion from the City Attorney.  Unfortunately, a legal opinion was not provided to me.  It’s my understanding that a legal opinion was provided to the Council after my departure.  It is disappointing that the City Attorney who is charged with protecting the taxpayers and voted in by the taxpayers has failed to provide a transparent opinion for the citizens.

There is no need to grant a lease extension due to the fact that there are over 20 years left on the current lease.  The lease is undervalued and, in my opinion, illegal.  If the Council approves this, the City runs the risk of having to buy back the lease at far greater cost should the courts deem it illegal.

As reported by the Beacon, Lightner in echoing Harris’ thoughts, made these remarks:

“Belmont Park is one of the city’s most valued assets in a prime oceanfront location,” Lightner said. “Prop. G, approved by voters in 1987, restricts the use of Mission Beach Park, and includes this particular property. I’m also concerned about the precedent set to allow concessions on an adjacent and non-contiguous site on the beach. My district is particularly sensitive to commercialization of our beaches. I will not be able to support this item.”

There may still be some glitches in the passed lease agreement. Jan Goldsmith’s office at the City Attorney issued a memo to the Council warning that the lease as it was approved may not pass legal muster.  Stay tuned. There’s more to  come.

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