Wednesday, October 5, 2011

San Diego City Council Responds to County Grand Jury Assertion That New City Hall Is Unnecessary

By David Batterson | Published Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011

The San Diego City Council voted 6-1 on October 4 to adopt a resolution, responding to the San Diego County Grand Jury report that a new city hall is not needed.

The resolution authorized the “council's response to the Presiding Judge of the San Diego Superior Court no later than November 1, 2011.” The Centre City Development Corporation and the Independent Budget Analyst previously prepared the council's response.

Councilmember Carl DeMaio voted no; councilmember Tony Young was absent. Councilmember Todd Gloria, who made the motion to approve, said, “We have a substandard city hall; the building needs replacement.” Councilmember Marti Emerald commented, “We need to revisit lease rates.”

The grand jury concluded that the city cannot justify a new, 19-story, 576,000-square-foot facility with an approximate $500-per-square-foot cost (estimated at $293,500,000). The grand jury determined the city could purchase “existing buildings of sufficient size to accommodate the City’s needs” for approximately $200 per square foot.

According to attachment 1 of the resolution, “the Grand Jury drew a number of inaccurate conclusions.” The council agreed with some findings, including one that the “existing city hall is in disrepair.”

The City of San Diego currently owns four buildings constructed in 1963 and 1965 between First and Third avenues: the city administration building, city operations building, concourse, and the Evan V. Jones Parkade (parking garage). The administration facility includes offices for the mayor and councilmembers, council chambers and committee rooms, the office of the city clerk, and other offices.

The administration, operations, and concourse buildings contain asbestos that will require abatement if they are renovated or demolished. The city leases about 93 percent of the Civic Center Plaza building.

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