This story has been updated.
This probably wasn’t what Bill Fulton had in mind when he took the job as the city’s top planner.
He brought his national reputation to town when he started as the city’s planning director last July.
Mayor Bob Filner, the man who hired him, was wrapped up in a sexual harassment scandal within a month and resigned soon after.
“It wasn’t exactly a straight line,” Fulton said, of how his first year played out.
Then Fulton rung up his first victory: He stood behind his department’s new development plan for Barrio Logan, opposed by the neighborhood’s lucrative shipbuilding industry, and watched it win City Council approval on a party-line vote.
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Sad to lose Bill. He is a planner and former mayor of Ventura with national reputation. I fear its virtually impossible for anybody "new" to come to San Diego and gain headway. Bill is yet another example of a thoughtful, respected, honest official to run into the buzz saw of local politics. While I thought his department flubbed the Bario Logan and Morena Corridor plans--failing to obtain real consensus from those most effected--I hoped he might be given a chance to demonstrate his considerable talents as a politician and planner. On the other hand, if there is any way to unshackle our city from the straight=-jacket of community planning groups, it would be welcomed. Development Services has long been a cesspool, with nothing but contempt for citizens, architects, engineers and environmentalists. Our city wastes a huge amount of money on bad plans and bad implementation of bad plans. I hope there can now be meaningful change. If we are ever to move forward with planning that benefits middle class residents and their employers--or encourages new business growth and development of affordable housing--perhaps it can be now. I've waited patiently for progress since 1984, when I first moved here. We have a terrific General Plan. We have excellent City Council Policy. But for some reason--and I think its the Community Planning Groups--the best ideas die before seeing the light of day.
In Sara Libby's "Morning Report", she wrote "...Fulton was hired to implement the vision of a man no longer in charge...". I take issue with stating that the vision Fulton was hired to implement was exclusively Bob Filner's vision. It was - and remains - a vision that many citizens of San Diego have had for many decades and a vision that is embodied in the current City of San Diego General Plan (adopted well before Filner's election as mayor).
It is a vision held by many who participate in their local community planning committees and on citizens advisory boards, and a vision that has been the guiding principle of Citizens Coordinate for Century 3 (C-3) since founding in 1961: "...a
comprehensive approach to growth management by encouraging open space,
high standards of urban design, and coordination of planning between
public and private sectors so that San Diego's continuing development will complement its natural setting."
Where have you been Judith? Your cherished planning groups have been working overtime on NIMBY ideas. We need regional planning with the authority to trump all these local groups. By the way, what percentage of residences in each of these groups even know that they have a planning group and better yet, what percentage participate? These groups do not represent the community as a whole but only a very few, more likely less than 1% and all with their parochial interests.
Here are some facts:
Civic San Diego is the successor CCDC, the city's redevelopment agency for downtown San Diego who had planning, zoning and permitting authority for downtown, separate from the city's Planning Dept.
Civic San Diego, really the city council sitting as Civic San Diego, has started negotiations to acquire zoning authority along transit corridors (bus and trolley lanes).
The federal and state governments has been and will be making available hundreds of millions of dollars for high density development along transit corridors. There will also be available for sale hundreds of millions of dollars of government backed high paying interest bonds that are tax free that the very rich like to buy for those investors in these projects.
Jones Lang LaSalle is an incredibly large real estate investment firm with offices throughout America and overseas that puts together these very rich investors, banks and bond purchasers that develop projects that qualify for these tax free bonds.
Jeff Graham, former President of Civic San Diego, ( just before leaving to join Jones Lang LaSalle as V.P for Public Institutions,) and was the moving force to have Civic San Diego acquire zoning authority along transit corridors, said - We (Civic San Diego) purchase property at a low price at its low density zoning, change its zoning to high density and sell it to investors for huge profits. Jeff Graham, the new V.P. for LaSalle will be stationed in, you guessed it, San Diego.
The new Mayor appoints Reese Jarrett , as man with a checkered past as the new President of Civic San Diego, whose salary is to be decided at a closed door hearing.
THE IS SOMETHING ROTTEN IS DENMARK
It is clear as a bell now. In comments on this web sight earlier I stated that Fulton should resign if he had any integrity after his inglorious retreat on density near trolley stops. Mr. Fulton, you have that integrity, congratulation.
The path is now clear for Civic San Diego to now take over zoning along the trolley line and increase density after "buying" (read stealing) the abutting land from the present owners. All you local planning groups that have felt so powerful in the past with your NIMBYS ideas will see you land purchased or taken by eminent domain AT THE PRICE of your low density zoning. Brillant.
I'm not sure that any mayor who wins on the North-of-the-8 vote will ever have walkable, dense, transit-centric urban design as a priority.
Fulton very recently appeared at a monthly meeting of the Bankers Hill Residents Group to make a presentation and answer questions about the Uptown Community Plan, the new construction in Bankers Hill, transit planning, and urban planning in general. He was very impressive. I can see why he might not want to work in San Diego government once Filner and his vision were ousted.