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Jeff Graham Out as Civic San Diego President

The resignation comes as the future of Civic San Diego, which has been trying to expand its authority throughout the city, could be heavily influenced by Mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer.

This story has been updated.

Jeff Graham, president of Civic San Diego, the organization tasked with finishing redevelopment projects, has resigned from his position with the city-owned nonprofit corporation.

He is set to become a senior vice president at Jones Lang LaSalle, a financial firm specializing in commercial real estate.

The resignation comes as the future of Civic San Diego, which has been trying to expand its authority throughout the city, could be heavily influenced by Mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer.

“The new mayor has consistently been a strong supporter of Centre City Development Corp., Southeastern Economic Development Corp. (the former redevelopment agencies) and eventually Civic San Diego, so I believe Mayor Faulconer will continue to wholeheartedly endorse the organization and see the benefits of a nimble organization that can pursue funding sources and attract investment to areas where normal market conditions can’t,” Graham said.

For the last year, Graham had been the man making the case around town that expanding Civic San Diego’s reach could effectively increase services, housing and retail options to underserved neighborhoods by spurring development, and taking better advantage of existing transit expenditures.

Civic San Diego Administrative Services Manager Lori L. Young wrote in an email to board members Wednesday:

Jeff has been a wonderful, long-standing, loyal member of Civic San Diego for seven plus years.  Jeff has served as Vice President and as President.

I and President Graham, as well as senior staff, have been working on a transition plan for the organization.  We are hopeful to have an interim team in place in the near future, and a permanent replacement within six months.  If you have questions, or would like to discuss further, please give me a call.

Graham and Civic San Diego had been trying for months to expand the corporation’s authority. Graham had been actively pitching the idea to community groups, business organizations and city leaders.

The group was originally tasked with finishing projects that were already in the pipeline when the property tax-funded, urban renewal program known as redevelopment was ended by Gov. Jerry Brown more than two years ago. It also reviews plans and grants permits to projects in the downtown area (the city’s planning and development services department handles those functions elsewhere in the city).

Civic San Diego has floated the idea of taking over planning and permitting authority from city staff in parts of Encanto and City Heights, so it can create so-called “transit villages.” The effort would be funded through a public-private partnership using state and federal development grants and investments from major financial institutions.

The plan has been opposed by the white-collar union that represents city staffers and some members of the community.

Civic San Diego’s proposal was already at something of a crossroads before Graham’s announcement. Any expansion of the group’s authority must be approved by the City Council, and Faulconer’s administration will have a say on any new arrangement.

Graham said Civic San Diego and the union representing planning and development services employees are still negotiating the possibility of giving some city functions to the nonprofit corporation.

He said he’s working closely with Faulconer, the city’s Chief Operating Officer Scott Chadwick, Civic San Diego’s CFO Andrew Phillips and board member Cynthia Morgan to put in place interim leadership and build a list of potential replacements. An interim leader could become a candidate for the long-term position, he said.

Graham is taking a position dealing with real estate holdings for public agencies in the Western states. He’ll deal with any public agency with real estate holdings — cities, counties, school districts, etc. — that needs consulting services to establish public-private partnerships, deal with surplus properties, or other related issues, he said.

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