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SD Courts to Hear Building Trades’ Complaint Regarding Transparency, Community Benefits

Baxamusa, who was removed from the CivicSD board under dubious conditions

Baxamusa, who was removed from the CivicSD board under dubious conditions

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Back in July, we wrote about a lawsuit levied by the Building Trades against a nonprofit company called Civic San Diego. CivicSD approves and processes ministerial and discretionary land-use applications in parts of downtown San Diego and surrounding communities. San Diego is the only municipality in the state that outsources these kinds of decisions to a private entity:

This lack of oversight inspired Baxamusa, who was fired from the board, to team up with the San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council in December of last year to file a complaint. A San Diego Superior Court judge will now have to determine the legality of outsourcing essential city services using public taxpayer funds.

Baxamusa alleged that, by outsourcing key decisions to CivicSD that are constitutionally reserved for a governmental authority, the city’s lack of oversight amounts to a failure to serve the public interest. Both the city and CivicSD filed motions to dismiss, but last week the San Diego Superior Court decided to allow the case to proceed through discovery. That process will include the deposition of key witnesses:

Steve Coopersmith, of the Coopersmith Law Firm, representing Dr. Baxamusa and SDCBTC stated, “We agree with the decision of Judge Richard Strauss of the San Diego Superior Court, and are now ready to move this case towards trial. We already have substantial evidence to demonstrate that the City of San Diego is not protecting its citizens by failing to properly oversee and administer the delegation of its permitting and planning authority for development in the City.  We will be gathering additional evidence through depositions and discovery requests to the City and CivicSD.  This was an important decision for the right of the public to challenge the City and its way of doing business, and move towards transparency in government.”

None of the petitioners are seeking financial reward through the complaint. Fairness and community benefits are what building trades union leaders are seeking:

[…] Tom Lemmon, Business Manager of the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council agreed: “San Diegans deserve transparency, oversight, and accountability for CivicSD’s activities if it’s going to continue to exist. In addition, if CivicSD continues to use public resources for planning and development, then it should provide some concrete benefits to local communities. CivicSD should adopt a Community Benefits Policy with defined goals for affordable housing development, creation of local good-paying jobs, and investments in community infrastructure.”


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