The city says the U-T San Diego newspaper, which has a grand vision for its property in Mission Valley, built parts of a showcase for classic cars at its headquarters without required permission.

The newspaper won’t face any fines as long as it actually gets the proper permits, a city spokeswoman said, although it’ll have to pay for the work of code enforcement staff who will review any belated permit applications.

The city investigated the construction of the “U-T Auto Museum” earlier this month after I asked whether it had proper permits.

The U-T didn’t initially welcome questions. It turned away a city inspector during an initial attempt to inspect the building, and the newspaper’s CEO, John Lynch, told me to “get a life.” It allowed an inspector to enter the building three days after an Aug. 6 VOSD story.

Construction on the car showcase began earlier this summer and was easily visible to passersby. The showcase features seven classic cars acquired by U-T owner and publisher Doug Manchester, who has also added a restaurant and TV studio to the 1970s-era building overlooking Interstate 8 since taking control of the paper late last year.

The city found that the paper didn’t have permits for a roll-up garage door and a steel-reinforced ramp constructed as part of the auto museum project, city spokeswoman Lynda Pfeifer said.

The ramp leads from the street at the rear of the U-T into the main building’s southeast corner, allowing cars to access the U-T Auto Museum.

The city requires certain kinds of construction to get approval from the city through permits to make sure they follow the rules regarding factors like safety, engineering standards and neighborhood zoning restrictions.

Many driveways, for example, must meet engineering standards regarding things like their thickness and steepness

In a news story, the U-T said Manchester had acquired the vintage cars from a friend and simply housed them at the U-T building. “It’s basically an area to store the cars, nothing more than that,” Lynch told the paper.

The car showcase isn’t open to the public. The cars, including a 1967 Shelby customized Mustang convertible and 1956 Chevy Bel Air, appear to be in excellent condition and sit on a floor decorated with red spaces, yellow lines and medallions.

Manchester, a hotel developer, has plans for more changes at the U-T building. He wants to sell office space in it and eventually build a large condo and retail complex on the newspaper’s property, which sits near Fashion Valley. He bought the The San Diego Union-Tribune last year, changing its name and shaking up its staff.

He’s created plenty of buzz, publishing editorials declaring Barack Obama to be the worst president of all time, calling high-profile critics of the Balboa Park makeover “idiotic” and aggressively pushing a vision for a mega-sports complex at the waterfront.

Earlier this year, emails from the paper’s CEO, Lynch, to a city counciman’s office, as reported by the Reader, suggested that Lynch is no fan of pesky city regulations.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

    This article relates to: Economy, News
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    Written by Randy Dotinga

    Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and president of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

    14 comments
    sandy markilla
    sandy markilla subscriber

    Museums of all kinds exist all around the world. They wouldn't be complete however without classic car museums. The point of a museum is to keep valuable items from carport protected and safe while making them available to the public for their viewing pleasure and enjoyment.

    smarkilla
    smarkilla

    Museums of all kinds exist all around the world. They wouldn't be complete however without classic car museums. The point of a museum is to keep valuable items from carport protected and safe while making them available to the public for their viewing pleasure and enjoyment.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones subscriber

    This is "gotcha" reporting based on bias, liberal reporters looking for dirt on a conservative organization. How many buildings and houses have been checked for new construction and proper permitting? Just the ones that lean right?

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones

    This is "gotcha" reporting based on bias, liberal reporters looking for dirt on a conservative organization. How many buildings and houses have been checked for new construction and proper permitting? Just the ones that lean right?

    Don Wood
    Don Wood subscriber

    Heck, the city inspectors wouldn't have even gone out if the story hadn't made news. This is San Diego. Of course the owners of the bigget newspaper in town gets special treatment, as do others with the big bucks and political juice. Why do you think they call our city government a plutocracy instead of a democracy?

    Don Wood
    Don Wood

    Heck, the city inspectors wouldn't have even gone out if the story hadn't made news. This is San Diego. Of course the owners of the bigget newspaper in town gets special treatment, as do others with the big bucks and political juice. Why do you think they call our city government a plutocracy instead of a democracy?

    Marc Lepen
    Marc Lepen subscriber

    So let me get this straight.....The UT doesnt get fined for building something without permits, is only told to put those items in and everything will be hunky dory.....This is even correct on the UT proposed signange that he has had issues with....WHY is Doug Manchester allowed to skirt around rules, permits and everything else, but when an average citizen does an upgrade to their house without a permit they are fined so much that it caused the home owner to go into bankruptcy and lose their house (someone i know)....City of San Diego care to share your reasons behind not fining Doug.....Oh I know why....cause he has money and he needs to be in the cities back pocket....Im sick of this good ole boys club here in this corupt city.

    Marc
    Marc

    So let me get this straight.....The UT doesnt get fined for building something without permits, is only told to put those items in and everything will be hunky dory.....This is even correct on the UT proposed signange that he has had issues with....WHY is Doug Manchester allowed to skirt around rules, permits and everything else, but when an average citizen does an upgrade to their house without a permit they are fined so much that it caused the home owner to go into bankruptcy and lose their house (someone i know)....City of San Diego care to share your reasons behind not fining Doug.....Oh I know why....cause he has money and he needs to be in the cities back pocket....Im sick of this good ole boys club here in this corupt city.

    James Snook
    James Snook subscriber

    What would happen if any average joe around town got caught building without permits? Wouldn't there be a fine or something? I know a couple houses in my neighborhood had to tear out construction that wasn't permitted recently, but it was also in violation of code. If everything is up to code do you just get a free pass?

    jsnook
    jsnook

    What would happen if any average joe around town got caught building without permits? Wouldn't there be a fine or something? I know a couple houses in my neighborhood had to tear out construction that wasn't permitted recently, but it was also in violation of code. If everything is up to code do you just get a free pass?

    David Hall
    David Hall subscriber

    "How many times during the Sanders administration did Development Services allow retroactive permitting without penalty?"

    sdguy
    sdguy

    "How many times during the Sanders administration did Development Services allow retroactive permitting without penalty?"

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones subscriber

    Heck, remove them, the cars are in.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones

    Heck, remove them, the cars are in.

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