Tuesday, July 21, 2009 | SACRAMENTO — Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña is trying to close the loophole that allowed the Navy to lease out public property for development at the Navy Broadway Complex downtown.
She has authored a bill that would repeal a law the Navy has used to sue the state and city for the right to build on disputed public land and would require that future development be approved by a state agency.
“Those lands belong to the citizens of California not the federal Department of Defense,” Saldaña said. “We want to make sure that the city and people of San Diego have a say in how those lands are developed.”
The move was spurred by a major legal misunderstanding surrounding the controversial downtown development nearly two decades ago.
The area — 15 acres of tidelands on the waterfront long entangled in community opposition and nearly set to start development — has a history of changing hands. It was public land owned by the city of San Diego, granted to the Navy, and then leased out by the Navy, without public input, to a private developer.
In 1991 the Navy sued the state, the city and the port of San Diego, among others, for the right to lease out its waterfront land for commercial use. It was land the city had given to the Navy for military purposes. The city, however, said the Navy’s plans were not military and not in accordance with the law.