Hoteliers Lose Yet Another Round of Litigation in Desperate Attempt to Save Illegal Waterfront Convention Center Expansion

San Diego’s hotel industry has been trying to defeat several lawsuits filed in 2013, 2014, and 2015 by the San Diego Navy Broadway Complex Coalition to challenge the California Coastal Commission’s approval of an expansion of the San Diego Convention Center on the waterfront (aka the contiguous expansion).  SDNBCC contends that the approval is illegal because the expansion violates the California Coastal Act.  The Bayfront Hilton Hotel recently went to trial on its defense that SDNBCC filed its lawsuits too late, meaning the lawsuits must be dismissed.  After hearing evidence over a three-day period, a judge of the San Diego County Superior Court concluded that the lawsuits are timely and that SDNBCC may go to trial on the merits of its claim against the approval of the waterfront expansion.

You can read the ruling here: Statement_Intended_Decision.


Attorney Cory Briggs Clarifies Citizens’ Plan for San Diego City Council District 1 Candidate Ray Ellis

Today Cory Briggs sent a letter to Ray Ellis, a candidate for San Diego City Council District 1, to clarify the effect of the Citizens’ Plan for the Responsible Management of Major Tourism and Entertainment Resources on a downtown football stadium.  Last week members of his campaign team made inaccurate statements about the Citizens’ Plan, so Cory provided clarification and offered to meet with Mr. Ellis and his team to educate them about the Citizens’ Plan.

You can read Cory’s letter here: 2016-04-04_RayEllis.

2016-04-05: Ray Ellis responded as follows to Cory’s letter:

Good Morning Mr. Briggs,

Thank you for your letter and reaching out. I agree, we need to continue to have a robust discussion on this very complicated issue.
As a long time season ticket holder, I would love to see the Chargers remain in San Diego, but not by risking jobs, our local economy or precious taxpayer dollars.
Thank you for the offer to meet in person. I don’t think that’s necessary at this time, but may reach out at a future date.
All the best ~ Ray
Raymond G. Ellis

“Meet and Greet” Fundraiser for San Diego Council District 7 Candidate Justin DeCesare Hosted by Attorney Cory Briggs

Attorney Cory Briggs is pleased to be hosting a “meet and greet” for San Diego Council District 7 candidate Justin DeCesare on Tuesday, April 12, from 5-6:30 p.m. at Briggs Law Corporation, 4891 Pacific Highway, Suite 104, San Diego, CA 92110.  (The office is near Fiesta Island; phone number is 619-497-0021.)

Justin is a real-estate professional who served his country for eight years in the U.S. Navy and currently serves his community as the president of the Tierrasanta Community Council.  You can learn more about Justin at

This event is open to the public.  For food-and-drink planning purposes, please RSVP no later than April 11 to

Read the flyer for the event here: Justin DeCesare 04 12 16 Invitation.

Cory Briggs Responds to Lobbyist’s/Lawyer’s Critique of Citizens’ Plan

I was thrilled to read in the San Diego Free Press the recent critique of the Citizens’ Plan that former City Councilmember Donna Frye and I have been promoting and that will appear on the November 2016 ballot. The critique’s author (a lobbyist and developer’s lawyer) raises an excellent question about the initiative’s effects on East Village and Barrio Logan, but he provides nothing except wrong answers that rest on a series of false claims. Responding to the critique thus gives me a good opportunity to explain some of the benefits of the initiative that have not yet received a lot of media attention.

Before debunking the specific claims in the critique, it is important to understand what the Citizens’ Plan does and does not do downtown. For starters, the initiative allows convention-center facilities, a sports facility (not necessarily football), or combined facilities within the boundaries of Imperial Avenue to the south, 17th Street to the east, K Street to the north, and Park Boulevard to the west – and nowhere else. Significantly, it includes no mandate that such development be given priority over any other development projects, offers zero guaranty that the development will come to fruition, allows the development to be done “in addition to” all other development already allowed, and requires that the development be done (if it’s done at all) “in accordance with all other applicable legal requirements.” In short, the initiative does nothing more than enhance downtown’s revitalization prospects.

At the same time, the Citizens’ Plan would bring about substantial victories for the public overall. Consider just two among many. Whether we’re talking about residents of East Village and Barrio Logan, or elsewhere in the City, all of us will benefit from having a competitive Transient Occupancy Tax rate because of the $18 million or more in additional revenues that would be generated each year. How much infrastructure could we fix with these new revenues? How may fire stations and libraries could we build? How many parks could we open?

Another benefit would be the preservation of the Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley for higher-education uses. The Citizens’ Plan explicitly contemplates that the site will be made available for SDSU, UCSD, or our community colleges to use as “research and development facilities” with “campus-serving commercial buildings.” That’s essentially what the critique was praising for downtown when it touted “an education and high[-]tech cluster similar to what has happened near UCSD.” What good reason is there for ignoring such an opportunity in Mission Valley? Why limit it to downtown? Why not make it possible in both places?  There’s no good reason not to try it in both places.

The Citizens’ Plan has many other virtues, which will become evident as the critique’s claims are scrutinized. Let’s look at them now.

False Claim 1: “The Citizens’ Plan is oblivious to the urban neighborhoods it most impacts.” According to the critique, “nary a word is in the Plan about creating economic opportunities, educational opportunities, social justice, environmental health, homelessness, affordable housing, nor even the plans or aspirations of the neighborhoods it directly impacts.” It’s hard to take the assertion seriously because the author himself admits, in the very next breath, that “not every ordinance or plan can address or even touch upon these issues.” What the critique seems to be implying is that an initiative as lengthy as the Citizens’ Plan is – well, it should have also tackled some of the big issues affecting East Valley and Barrio Logan.

Guess what? It does.

What the largest yet-to-be-redeveloped portion of East Village needs is a realistic opportunity for substantial economic investment and a big dose of environmental justice. The likelihood of such an opportunity is greatly increased by the Citizens’ Plan in several ways. First, it reduces the burdens of compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act not only for the development made possible by the initiative, but also for any joint revitalization that combines at least one of the initiative-authorized uses with one or more uses already authorized. All such revitalization must still satisfy CEQA’s mitigation measures, which is the part of CEQA that implements the protection of people and their environment, but the other requirements of CEQA will not apply; that, in turn, seriously reduces the risk of project-delaying or -killing injunctions. This, of course, is a reasonable compromise because downtown in general and East Village in particular have already been the subject of considerable environmental analysis. The marginal benefit of one more lengthy study pales in comparison to the benefits of making it easier and less expensive to revitalize this part of downtown with all the environmental protections that CEQA mitigation provides.

Second, it creates competition among potential uses that will increase the likelihood that the MTS bus yard in East Village will be moved. If we are going to talk about environmental justice, then we need to own up to the injustice of that bus yard: the air pollution alone is disgraceful. Public-transit systems barely have enough money to operate, much less to relocate. The substantial monies needed to move the bus yard are not going to come from incremental redevelopment of a few million dollars here and there. In the absence of the necessary political will and considerable public finances, neither of which has been shown to exist so far, moving the bus yard requires a revitalization project that will be big enough and provide enough return to its investors that they are willing to absorb the relocation costs. The move will also require significant political pressure on the various decision-makers on the MTS board and at the City and County levels. The initiative gives major political players and business interests incentive to join with neighborhood leaders and advocacy organizations to ensure that the move occurs sooner rather than later.

That brings me to the third way in which the Citizens’ Plan will provide greater economic opportunity without sacrificing environmental protection for East Village and Barrio Logan: it requires a lot of interest groups who ordinarily would be fighting one another for a slice of the proverbial pie to work together to expand the size of the pie that everyone will share. There will be plenty to be gained for everyone through cooperation and compromise – far more than any narrow subset of stakeholders could ever realistically hope to achieve by going it alone – thanks to the incentives created by the initiative. People need to consider the likelihood of maximizing the revitalization potential for East Village and Barrio Logan without bringing more stakeholders into the fold. The fewer the stakeholders, the lower the odds.

In sum, the first claim is false because the Citizens’ Plan gives these neighborhoods far more opportunity and leverage in charting and improving their futures than the status quo provides.

False Claims 2 & 3: “The urban neighborhoods are doing well without their Plan.” “The Plan would impede the growth of an innovation district and replace it with a convention and entertainment zone.” These two claims rest on serious misinterpretations of the Citizens’ Plan. As noted above, nothing in the initiative “replaces” anything in East Village; what the initiative authorizes there is “in addition to” everything else that’s already on the planning books. In fact, the initiative was drafted with the “trend toward an educational and high[-]wage job cluster” that the critique’s author touts, and with innovative redevelopment like the Makers Quarter and IDEA District would help achieve, very much in mind. The initiative goes one step further, however, and contemplates such opportunities not only downtown but in Mission Valley too.

Sticking with downtown for the moment: while drafting the Citizens’ Plan, I spoke to multiple stakeholders about the potential for economic and land-use innovations like the Makers Quarter and IDEA District. There was lots of positive feedback that the opportunities created by a campus-style convention center on Tailgate Park – whether or not combined with a sports facility – would help accelerate the development of things like the Makers Quarter and IDEA District. Consequently, the potential for high-paying arts-, entertainment-, and recreation-related jobs would actually go up, stakeholders assured me, with the right design and integration of the larger facilities with the relatively smaller innovation- and tech-oriented businesses. The latter would encourage more human-scale development at the street level and offer the sort of diverse attractions necessary to bring year-around vibrance supported by locals and tourists alike to what might otherwise be dull and sporadic. Nothing in the Citizens’ Plan prohibits the pursuit of such synergies. (Just last week, JMI Realty representative Steve Peace was interviewed by NBC’s Gene Cubbison and described the company’s focus on “scalable,” “people-friendly” development.)

The critique mentions a variety of other benefits of innovation districts. Those benefits are certainly real. The author errs, however, when he implies that the “academic expansion” contemplated by the Citizens’ Plan for Mission Valley would make that site incapable of providing similar opportunities. He thinks it would be fantastic to bring a UCSD lab downtown as an “anchor institution.” If it would be a good idea to have a university expand and become a downtown anchor, why would it not be good to do the same thing in Mission Valley? The author doesn’t answer that question. He suggests there’s something about downtown’s infrastructure that gives it an edge, citing one of his own blogs last November. Among the “selling points” he mentioned there for a downtown satellite university were the “beauty of the location” and its “proximity” to the trolley line. Downtown and Mission Valley each have unique selling points, but proximity to the trolley line that already exists at the Mission Valley site and the potential beauty of the river park and other public amenities authorized by the Citizens’ Plan make that site very worthy of consideration for its own innovation district – regardless of whether such a district is pursued downtown.

To summarize: Claims 2 and 3 are false because the Citizens’ Plan would actually facilitate and enhance innovation districts not only in the East Village but in Mission Valley. The idea of such districts is too good not to export to other parts of the City. That’s why the initiative seizes the potential in both places.

False Claim 4: “A non-contiguous convention center or downtown stadium are not worth doing.” Perhaps more than any other, this particular claim reveals just how much the critique’s author misunderstands the Citizens’ Plan. Starting with the convention center, he insists that a “non-contiguous facility makes the investment even more risky by eliminating the mega-conventions which need contiguous space.” This is a rhetorical sleight of hand because currently there are no mega-conventions in San Diego – luring them here is the impetus for expanding in the first place – and thus nothing to “eliminate.” What’s worse, the analyses of potential new bookings identify only three and possibly four mega-conventions accommodated by a waterfront expansion. Yet not one of them has given the slightest enforceable assurance that it will break its existing contracts and move to San Diego as soon as a waterfront expansion is built. Waterfront boosters thus suffer from a terminal case of build-it-and-they-will-come syndrome. Basically, they want to use taxpayer money (rather than their own) to build a waterfront expansion on spec.

Meanwhile, the City’s updated analysis from last August shows, once we take into account the legal delays faced by the waterfront expansion, that an off-waterfront expansion would cost less public money and generate a comparable return on investment by hosting more sub-mega-conventions. That’s made possible in large part because two nearby facilities (in contrast to one large one) would have fewer lost booking days due to set-up and tear-down conflicts; there’s not enough room for a full house of exhibitors to be setting up and tearing down at the same time under one roof. Why spend more taxpayer money on a waterfront gamble that will generate no more return on the investment than will a less-expensive off-waterfront expansion?

As far as the Citizens’ Plan’s stadium component is concerned, the author’s right that stadiums are bad public investments. That’s precisely why the initiative prohibits the City from spending money on a stadium either as a stand-alone facility or as part of a joint-use facility.

Worries about the “delay” of building a stadium downtown are overblown. On the one hand, the only person who needs to worry about how long it will take to build a downtown stadium is Dean Spanos. If he can live with the timeline, nobody else should be concerned. On the other hand, the delays at Mission Valley will be just as bad if not worse because of the years of litigation that will dog that site if City Hall persists with its taxpayer-subsidized proposal. Comparing apples to apples, Mission Valley will not yield a new stadium any faster than downtown will.

So while it may be true that the economic justification for expanding the convention center or building a new football stadium is not overwhelming, the Citizens’ Plan’s approach to expanding off the waterfront and allowing a stadium component protects the taxpayers and the waterfront better than any other alternative. If they’re worth doing at all, then the best way to pursue them – the one with maximal public protection and benefits – is the way envisioned by the initiative.

False Claim 5: “Public access is a red herring.” No, it’s not. The drawing included in the critique shows the contiguous expansion going all the way up to a narrow promenade adjacent to San Diego Bay, with a very small section of “open space” between the convention center and the Hilton Hotel to the south. The author could not be more off the mark when he writes that “the contiguous convention center expansion . . . leaves this gap largely untouched.” The “gap” is not the concern. The concern is the much larger park that currently exists but would be completely covered up by the alternating light-green-dark-green polygonal structure shown in the drawing on the waterside of the building. The park exists there today; it won’t if the contiguous expansion occurs.

Another aspect of the contiguous plan that many people forget is that the loading bays will disappear. Look again at the drawing. Do you see where big-rig trucks are going to park while their contents are loaded and unloaded? You don’t because that space has been eliminated. Today there’s a rather large loading bay for this purpose, but the drawing shows exhibit space where the loading bay is. Where will those trucks load and unload if the contiguous expansion occurs? My money says they’ll be parking in the “200-300 foot gap” that the critique’s author isn’t concerned about. With or without the loading bay, however, the public will lose a significant amount of access and open space that it currently has on the waterfront.

Claim 5 is therefore false. Contrary to the author’s insistence, there’s nothing about such losses that would constitute an improvement to coastal access or public space.

False Claim 6: “The Plan impacts urban neighborhoods and deprives them of input.” This claim fails in three ways. First, as explained above, the Citizens’ Plan would encourage innovative revitalization like the Makers Quarter and the IDEA District. It stifles nothing and actually increases the development potential in a way that will improve the chances of innovative revitalization taking hold.

Second, fears about parking impacts are overblown. Unlike projects already authorized downtown, the Citizens’ Plan requires all development that it authorizes there to adopt a legally enforceable “plan to reduce vehicle miles traveled to the [site] that includes incentives for the use of public transit.” What other downtown project has that as a legally enforceable requirement? I cannot think of any.

Third, the Citizens’ Plan flat-out states – in plain English – that all downtown development it authorizes “shall comply with any and all mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements that would be required under [CEQA] in the same manner and to the same extent as a project that is not exempt from environmental review under [CEQA].” It goes on to require that the City “provide the public with an opportunity to review and comment on any proposed mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements” and “adopt the requirements at a public hearing” convened by the city council.

In short, one doesn’t need a law degree to see that the Citizens’ Plan contains language to ensure that every member of the public – not just those who live in or close to downtown – would be given a meaningful opportunity to provide input about the redevelopment it contemplates to their elected representatives. (In fact, at least as far as the critique’s author is concerned, having a law degree seems not to have been helpful at all. He cites the initiative’s reliance on “Public Resources Code sec. 21178, et seq.,” as a prime example of how the “impacted neighborhoods would . . . be deprived of CEQA input. . . .” It’s hard to fathom why he chose this example because Section 21178 et seq. is one of those statutes that requires compliance with CEQA’s public-input rules. Nothing in Section 21178 or elsewhere in the initiative gets a pass on public input.)

False Claim 7: “Plan backers and their motivations. . . .” There isn’t much of a claim here – just an attempt to impugn peoples’ motives. But the Citizens’ Plan’s backers have been very transparent about their motives, sharing them with public agencies, on the internet, at public meetings, and in the press: Donna Frye wants to see more park space in Mission Valley and wants voters to weigh in on the subject of tourist taxes; John Moores wants to see Mission Valley set aside for higher education; JMI Realty wants to see the waterfront protected for the public and not walled off by a contiguous expansion because it thinks that’s better for the future residents and businesses in East Village; and my clients and I want to see the last 15 years of gridlock at City Hall and the growing infrastructure deficit come to an end.

Unlike the backers’ transparency, the critique’s author did not think to disclose that he is the business partner of a sitting Port of San Diego commissioner. Why does this matter? It’s the Port that controls the waterfront where the contiguous expansion would take place, it’s the Port that would receive the rents and royalties from trading the public’s open space and coastal access for the expansion, it’s the Port that insisted on asking the Coastal Commission to bless the proposal despite knowing that the tax necessary to finance it might fail in court, and it’s the Port as much as any government agency that cow-tows to the worker-exploiting waterfront hoteliers. Not surprisingly, the author’s business partner voted for the contiguous expansion. All of this was left out of the critique.

It’s fine to raise questions about someone’s motives when they’re relevant to the discussion. In my experience, however, it’s the motives of naysayers who don’t disclose their connections, affiliations, and financial interests that the public should fear most.

False Claim 8: “History is repeated by the Citizens’ Plan in undermining urban neighborhoods.” By this point, anyone reading this response can explain why the critique’s author is wrong when he writes that “[t]he Plan is shockingly oblivious or callous to the challenges and aspirations of the surrounding communities, as well as the potential role the East Village site plays in San Diego’s economic future.” The Citizens’ Plan creates more opportunity in part by facilitating innovation-oriented land uses like those favored by the author, and it gives all San Diegans a strong voice in how the site is developed.

The problem with this claim is not limited to being false, however. What’s worse is the deeply disturbing suggestion that the Citizens’ Plan’s backers are guilty of “heavy[-]handed tactics” like those employed to defeat the Barrio Logan Community Plan at the ballot box. It’s this sort of inflammatory hyperbole that leaves one to wonder whether the author is truly clueless about the Citizens’ Plan’s backers or intentionally trying to poison the well. Not one of its backers was involved in trying to defeat the Barrio Logan Community Plan, and many of them were staunch supporters.

False Claim 9: “The undemocratic, and sometimes unconstitutional, nature of comprehensive initiatives weighs against the Citizens’ Plan.” Once again, the critique’s author is casting the Citizens’ Plan in a negative light without explaining the actual problem presented. Certainly measures like this initiative should not be a first resort in our democracy. But when our political institutions persistently fail us – and make no mistake, our local politicians and the well-heeled special interests controlling City Hall have been failing us on the issues covered by the initiative for nearly 15 years – it is perfectly reasonable for citizens to take their case to fellow voters.

The only semi-legitimate question the author raises is over the single-subject rule that all initiatives must satisfy. But as with practically every other question he raises in the critique, he does not even attempt to answer it – apparently content just to kick up some dust – so I will.

There is no single-subject problem, period. Courts presume that citizen initiatives are valid until the challenger proves an indisputable violation of the law. The single-subject rule requires nothing more than a set of reasonably germane components that share a common theme. The precedent court decisions invalidating an initiative for violating the single-subject rule are outnumbered by the decisions upholding initiatives against single-subject challenges.

Anyone who doubts that sporting events, coastal resources, the convention center, tourism, and the public revenues generated from tourists have nothing in common need look no further than the San Diego Tourism Marketing District. Each year it provides roughly $30 million in financial support for college-football bowl games in Mission Valley, for racing events on and around Mission Bay and San Diego Bay, and for the San Diego Tourism Authority, which handles the convention center’s long-term bookings. TMD’s largesse comes from a 2% tax that hoteliers collect from tourists. Wherever you find one of these things, you need not look too far or long before you’ll find another.

So while I have no doubt that more than one special interest will want to challenge the Citizens’ Plan – they rightly fear that it will substantially weaken their political stranglehold on City Hall – the single-subject argument will get them nowhere fast.

In a blog written a little over two months ago, the critique’s author described the downtown land covered by the Citizens’ Plan as “the largest undeveloped, most generously zoned, and most strategically located land in downtown,” and concluded that it is “the most valuable land in the city – both in monetary value and for its value in shaping the City’s future.” I couldn’t agree more.

That’s why it makes tremendous sense for “the most valuable land in the city” to play a central role in the only initiative in nearly 20 years that has dared to shape the City’s future not for the benefit of a few special interests but rather, first and foremost, for the broader public interest.


San Diego Navy Broadway Complex Coalition Opposes AB 729 (Atkins)

Today the San Diego Navy Broadway Complex Coalition submitted its formal opposition to Assembly Bill 729 (Atkins), which would give the Port of San Diego more control over San Diego Bay and take away the State Lands Commission’s oversight of the Port. You can read the letter here: 2016-01-08_AB729. (Other opposition letters were submitted by Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation and UniteHere.)

Moments ago, Briggs Law Corporation was notified by the office of Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins that AB 729 has been pulled for the remainder of the legislative year due to national-security and other concerns raised by the U.S. Navy in a letter a couple days ago; apparently the Navy also wants an ex-officio seat on the Port’s governing board. BLC has asked for a copy of the letter and will post it as soon as it becomes available.

2016-01-09: The Navy letters referenced above can be read here (AB 729 Navy Letter to Local Govt Committee) and here (AB729 Navy Letter to Assembly Natural Resources Committee 4Jan2016).

Court Filing Explains Why Coastal Commission Lawsuit over Convention Center Has “Languished”

Attorney Cory Briggs recently responded to accusations by the San Diego City Attorney’s Office that a lawsuit filed to challenge the Coastal Commission’s illegal approval of a waterfront expansion of the San Diego Convention Center has “languished.” It turns out that the reason for the delay was brought about by San Diego’s mayor and the Convention Center board’s chairman.

You can read the response here (viz., pages 4 & 5): Opposition to MTC Pmt of AR efile.

Cory Briggs Interview with Mighty 1090 about Charges Politicians Hoteliers and Convention Center

On September 1, I was interviewed on the Mighty 1090.

If you think the Chargers are the ones that have been disingenuous, listen in.

The narratives from city leaders and the hoteliers on both fronts are proving to be pure politics, and false.

Watch the video and/or read the transcript.

Watch (and Listen) To the Interview

Here are the links to all the documents referenced:

Download the AECOM Report from 2009
Download the AECOM Report from 2010
Read the Letter from CSL regarding the $157 million mistake

Read the Full Transcript:

SCOTT: Cory Briggs is about to join us here, and let me just set this up for you. This ongoing debate, Billy Ray, about the stadium, has been happening now for many many years. I’d say since 2003, so I’d call it 12 years. But it has been at its most intensified point this year.

And from the very beginning, Mark Fabiani has said that the Mayor is playing a game of political cover. Most people who are not in the political world, including myself I must say, have no idea what that meant.

Mark tried to explain it over and over again. The unfortunate part about it is that Mark, with his dialogue, became public enemy #1 of all Charger fans. His constant insults of the City and the Mayor and so on really didn’t allow people, again, myself included, to really take a good hard look at what was going on.

And ultimately, as I have been pushing for several weeks now, we really needed to go and re-examine downtown. For the future of downtown, not just for the future of the Chargers and a stadium. There is a lot about that, you know.

What JMI is going to build? Is it going to be a hotel? Is it going to be a condo complex right near by the ballpark? Will a convention center get expanded? Would it come across the street. Would that be a good partnership with the stadium…etc..?

And then all of a sudden, the convention center people were doing their own research, they say. Umm, from the convention center sports and leisure international, whoever they are, and they have concluded once and for all that their clientele wants a contiguous expansion of a convention center … they don’t want it across the street.

The Mayor has come out and said “I support that,” and I plan on asking the voters to increase the taxes so that we can increase the convention center.

This could be devastating for the Charger staying here in San Diego.

Here to talk about that on the Corky’s hotline is Attorney Cory Briggs, who shut down the last expansion of the convention center. And what does he have to say about what’s going on now?

Hi Cory.

CORY: Hey Scott, how are you? Hi BR, how are ya?

BR: What’s up Cory?

SCOTT: Cory, I want to ask you, what do you make of, first of all, the study that the convention center people have done, that their clientele prefers contiguous versus a campus style convention center.

CORY: Where do you want me to start?

SCOTT: Well first I’d ask you, do you know who the Convention Sports and Leisure International people are?

CORY: No idea.

SCOTT: So is that like a made-up company. I mean I really don’t know who they are or what their credentials are.

CORY: I assume they are at least competent enough to get the job, but I don’t know anything else about them.

SCOTT: So you shut down the convention center expansion last time. Can you explain to everybody why that was?

CORY: Sure, because the hoteliers voted themselves to impose a tax on tourists instead of having the voters of the City impose the tax and the court of appeal said that is unconstitutional so they invalidated it.

SCOTT: And moreover, besides that which seems reasonable to most of us. The idea of waterfront expansion. Take us through that plot of land that is sort of in between the convention center and the Hilton and why that doesn’t work for the people that you generally represent.

CORY: Sure, what’s known as the south Embarcadero, which is pretty much everything where the convention center is to the South has been developed. And the waterfront by law is supposed to be protected by the public to use for water-dependent purposes, whether that is commerce recreation, fishing, boating, all sorts of things. But it’s not supposed to be used in a way that precludes those water dependent uses. So, when you put a convention center on the waterfront, you don’t need a convention center on the waterfront. Your proof is convention centers all over the world that are not on the waterfront. That makes it illegal. It was done before, it should not have been done. What was left last time was a park between the convention center and the Hilton hotel that is down there. And the agreement was no more expansions on the waterfront instead we will do the next phase at what is known today at tailgate park. That is why they built the bridge there at harbor drive.
Now the City has gone back on their word. The Port has gone back on their word. And they want to expand on the waterfront. That open space is supposed to remain a park. It is supposed to remain available for the public to use as it wants to use for water-dependent open space activities. It is not supposed to be a box on the water.

SCOTT: So, what do you make Cory Briggs, of the research that has been done that says people who bring conventions prefer it to be in one building, #1, and #2, the Mayor’s support for that notion.

CORY: So, I’ve been looking at this report and let me just tell ya, that about an hour ago I was emailed a copy of a letter from the author of the report that is confessing to have used the wrong cost numbers in his economic analysis. The letter I’m looking at sent to the convention center today says that we used the wrong dollar amount. $410 million instead of $549 million. By my calculations that is a shortage of 1/3. Which means their calculation about the return on their investment, how quickly they would get their money back if they did contiguous are egregiously wrong and egregiously so.

BR: What was their excuse?

CORY: There is no excuse in here. It just say, ‘unfortunately we included the construction cost for an alternative contiguous expansion scenario $410 million versus $549 million and are making the necessary corrections to include these costs for the correct scenario. So, right off the bat, the numbers are wrong. Another problem with the number is if you look at the table, its Table ES1 in the report, there is a footnote in the report that says their numbers come from CB urban development. CB Urban Development is a company that is run by a lawyer named Charles Black. Charles Black is not a construction estimator. And if you look at the actual memo that is referenced in the footnote that is the source of the cost, and I have that memo … the City gave it to me a couple days ago … he has a bunch of disclaimers in the beginning. For example, he says the sketches of the area that we looked at were hand-written. Which mean the back of a napkin, almost certainly. On top of that, he says we don’t even know if the cost-estimates are accurate until you actually pick an alternative, you get real cost estimators to give you the numbers, and you get a contract with a contractor who is willing to build it at that price. So, if you read the footnotes and you see the source document, you immediately say, ‘why would we have any confidence in these numbers when the lawyer pretending to be a cost estimator says here are my disclaimers,’
And then, on top of that, you know a couple years ago when they were saying that they could only do contiguous because their clients would have nothing to do with across the street. ‘Contiguous was the only viable alternative.’ And they kept citing this AECOM report. And we said read the report it doesn’t say it. And the politicians and the media all said, ‘nope, it must be contiguous or we have nothing.’

Well now we have a report that says you can go across the street and do non-contiguous. It would make your investment come back as quickly. It would be a few years difference. But it would still work. It would still be OK.

So this report actually exposes the lie that the hoteliers that the hoteliers and the politicians were putting out there a couple years ago when they said it had to be contiguous.

SCOTT: Alright, we are talking to Cory Briggs, the lawyer who shut down the last convention center convention. Let us move right on because if you are driving down the road right now and you are a sports fan and you could care less about comic-con and you could care less about convention center expansion which hopefully people do care about this stuff because it really does impact the future of the City. Let’s turn everything you have just talked about into the stadium/keeping the Chargers.

How does this report and how does the Mayor’s support for the report impact a potential stadium and keeping the Chargers in San Diego.

CORY: I think this report and the politicians reaction to it is like giving the Chargers their eviction papers. I don’t see how they stay at this point. The announcement yesterday that the Mayor is basically doubling down on a contiguous expansion; he now favors a tax increase that would require a 2/3 vote which is impossible to get by his own polling data a few weeks ago. Its a tax-hike on tourists that will only benefit the hoteliers. Uh, this completely precludes any chance of doing a compromise that would involve an expansion on tailgate park. A compromise that would at least give the Chargers the option of staying in San Diego. They of course would have to bring their checkbook, but they would have the option of going to the site where they want to be. This forecloses all of that. Its done.
And when you add the fact that the City Attorney recently said, ‘well, I think there are questions about the viability of Carson and the legal strategy the Chargers have used there, makes it sounds like he is beating the war-drum to go file a lawsuit over Carson, you are just forcing the Chargers to go to Inglewood.
If you wanted to screw this up worse, I don’t think you could have.

SCOTT: Cory Briggs is with us on Scott and BR on the Mighty 1090 via the Corky’s hotline, um … to me, as I look at it, it strengthens Mark Fabiani’s position Cory, tell me if you agree or disagree, to go to the NFL and say, ‘look, the Mayor is willing to put general fund money into the stadium in Mission Valley, when, if he would raise the tax on tourism, we could build two facilities in one in downtown San Diego and I just think that the actions of the Mayor strengthen Fabiani’s position to the NFL that says we can’t get it done. We can’t work with these people. I hate to use his word, he’s called them, “singularly unsuccessful,” he’s called the City,” unsophisticated.” These sorts of moves I think make Fabiani look more right than wrong.

CORY: If Mr. Fabiani and Mr. Spanos don’t have a massive hangover from all of the champagne they drank last night after what the City did and what the City announced yesterday, I can’t see how they City could have made it any easier for the Chargers to make the case to the NFL that they’ve got to go to LA. This was such a botched move in terms of keeping the Chargers here in San Diego.

SCOTT: Now, let’s assume. Let’s just play it out for a second. The Chargers go to the NFL. This really did strengthen their position, and they league says, you can apply and you can be granted relocation. Let’s just play that out.


SCOTT: The Chargers go play in LA in 2016, right? The Mayor continues down this path of, ‘I’m going to ask the voters for a 67% vote to get this expansion of the convention center. Um, first of all, the likelihood of getting that percentage seems very low. I mean in terms of voters to come out and support that, #1. #2, Aren’t guys like you going to go file lawsuits and shut this thing down if they are planning on expanding on a public park.

CORY: Yeah. There’s not going to be an expansion on the waterfront. This is a pipe dream. Not going to happen.

SCOTT: How can you guarantee that?

CORY: They are never going to get the voters to approve the money necessary to do this. Their price just went up in 24 hours from 410 to 549 million and that’s before they actually have someone who is competent to do the analysis tell you what the real number is. And they are going to take that to the voters and say, ‘give us money to do this.’ Its not going to happen in San Diego.

SCOTT: Alright, well we will pick this up another time. Cory Briggs, thank you for some strong opinions today. Appreciate it.

CORY: You are welcome gentlemen. Have a good one.

SCOTT: Back to you.