Head of ‘Circulate San Diego’ Nixes Developers’ Fees in La Mesa

by on June 20, 2022 · 11 comments

in San Diego

Colin Parent

The head of the controversial group, Circulate San Diego, is Colin Parent. Parent also sits on the La Mesa City Council.

He and his group have often been subjected to criticism in the pages of the Rag over the last months, mainly because, as we see it, they masquerade as bicycling environment-friendly, housing advocates who are actually enabling developers and their friends in city government.

One quick piece of evidence: Circulate San Diego came out in support of the very worse, most dense, most high-rise model that the Navy recently offered to the public for their redevelopment of Old Town – and then withdrew after the withering community response.

Back to Parent. And La Mesa.

Last Tuesday, June 14, the city council in La Mesa considered a proposal to raise more money for their local parks by increasing fees for developers. Developer fees have helped pay to maintain the 135 acres of parks in La Mesa. But those fees have not been changed or raised since 2005, 17 years ago.

The proposal would increase two fees over the next five years; one of 99 cents per square foot would have been raised to $5.54 over those 5 years; another 40 cent fee would eventually go to $2.93 over those same years.

Proponents of the proposal included Mayor Mark Arapostathis and Vice Mayor Jack Shu — who argued that it was only fair that developers pay more for the upkeep of the parks which helps everybody. Shu said, “They get more than their money back, because it enhances the community’s values.”

But Parent led the push back against the proposed measure. He said, “I have never, ever heard someone tell me that they have to move out of the city because we don’t have high enough quality parks.”

Laura Lothian, from campaign site.

Then Parent formed an ad hoc coalition of three and defeated the proposal. He allied with councilmember and libertarian Bill Baber, but then also with councilmember Laura Lothian who has just recently made some disquieting remarks about the LGBTQ community. Lothian opposed raising a rainbow flag at the city every June in honor of the LGBTQ community. The council voted 4 to 1 and Lothian was the only hold-out.

She said last Monday in a  video that the La Mesa City Hall should not “be a billboard for any group of people, any cause, any agenda or any movement.” The next day, she tried to explain: “People need to be able to come to City Hall and conduct business without having to encounter political messaging.”

Anyhow, this is the person Colin Parent united with in order to defeat the proposal to raise developer fees in La Mesa.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie June 20, 2022 at 11:49 am

This one is for Mat, Paul, Geoff, Norma and Scott. They’ve all complained that Colin Parent never advocates for things in La Mesa that he proposes for San Diego. Now we know.


Don Wood June 21, 2022 at 4:21 pm

Parent endorsed two of the biggest high density apartment complexes in La Mesa history, on Baltimore and on University. The apartment block on Baltimore is pretentiously named “The Jefferson”. May be by the same developers who are building “The Society” project in Mission Valley. Both look like Soviet era prisons. The new apartment block on University replaces a retirement home for Catholic nuns. Not sure where the nuns went. The city did require the developer to adaptively reuse the original rest homes church style tower and facade. The developer put up huge ugly new apartment blocks on either side and filled the lot behind it with new apartments. Colin Parent hasn’t done La Mesa any favors, and may not get reelected.


Geoff Page June 21, 2022 at 6:36 pm

Well, now I feel bad to hear he is doing real damage in La Mesa. I hope they boot him.


Geoff Page June 20, 2022 at 3:22 pm

Well, as long as he is doing damage somewhere else other than here for once, I’m fine. But, this needs to be a story for La Mesans to hear.


Frank Gormlie June 21, 2022 at 11:32 am

True enough, but I think this also shows his and CSD’s hypocrisy. Plus, I thought we could have some fun with it.


FrankF June 21, 2022 at 7:29 am

Just to clarify here….”developer fees” are paid by the developer as part of the entitlement process, but the end user, be it the condo buyer or apartment renter, will eventually pay those fees as part of their rent or in the purchase price of the condo.

I’m not saying the fees are wrong, but we have to be honest with ourselves. One element of the high cost of housing in San Diego are these government imposed fees.


Mat Wahlstrom June 21, 2022 at 10:30 am

The same is said about parking requirements. But getting rid of those and getting rid of developer impact fees *without a requirement to pass along the savings* doesn’t do anything to reduce the high cost of housing: it just puts more money into developers’ pockets.


kh June 21, 2022 at 11:57 am

They seem ok waiving fees or requirements that provide actual infrastructure. But the fees that fund more layers bureaucracy are ever increasing.

Why is there a $17K coastal development discretionary permit fee that the city treats as ministerial anyways? It provides no benefit to the applicant or surrounding community, (aside from the unintended consequence of frustrating and deterring applicants). Why does the department of fish and wildlife need to be involved when building a garage on a developed lot? Why does the FAA need to be consulted on every single project, regardless of height? Why is an applicant required to pay $6K for just the permit alone, in order to repair the city’s sidewalk? I could go on…


Geoff Page June 21, 2022 at 12:11 pm

I’ll never understand this logic. The strain on infrastructure, caused by adding dwelling units, needs to be paid for by the cause of that strain. That would be those dwelling units so that is where the cost should be. How else would you propose to pay for the infrastructure improvements that will be required?

I once worked on a major sewer main project in Mission Valley. There was an existing main trunk line down through the middle of the valley that was full to capacity and it was a large diameter pipe. An even larger pipe was needed because of the development that had taken place over the years adding so much more sewage to the old system.

They had to excavate a huge pit to hold the sewage when they needed to cutover from the old pipe to the new one. They misjudged it, the pit filled quickly and over-flowed. That was about 30 years ago. That pipe is probably too small now. How would you propose to pay for that problem that flows down to the size of the pipes in the streets today.


Roy McMakin June 21, 2022 at 9:34 pm

Like most YIMBYs, Mr. Parent is a closeted Republican. Being in the closet forces one into contortions, which isn’t ideal for him or the community.


sealintheselkirks June 24, 2022 at 4:29 pm

Unfortunately this isn’t a ‘political party’ thing, it is pervasive throughout the corporate state we find ourselves living in. It’s a Class War between the very few that profit of a thoroughly corrupted economic system. When the boss pays a far less percentage of earning than his lowly secretary, you know it is FUBAR. Bluntly put, the wealthy have a gun to all our heads. And the extremely wealthy have made sure that it is snugly fit into the guillotine…

Two links:
quote: Blackstone is the world’s largest single owner of housing in the world.”

U.S. Housing Costs Surge, With No End In Sight
Locked out of the supply-constrained home-buying market, more households are crowding the rental market, driving up rents and stressing housing support programs.
3 Reasons To Be Worried About the Blackstone Group—and Their Friend, Hillary Clinton

Leaked emails show Clinton’s advisers sought to “develop a real relationship with” the controversial private equity firm.
Article is from 2016, think anything has changed?

Just got my notice that my property taxes went up because the ‘value’ of my house and property did. I had two of these come last year, in Spring and Fall. The ‘investment’ groups and hedge funds and corporate sharks are operating everywhere and all that means is less for more for the rest of us…or nothing.

When the sharks buy off the regulators with ‘campaign contributions’ (and who knows what gets promised in private), who end up getting bitten? Certainly not the sharks…



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