Rewarding the Bad Behaviors of a Property Owner

| June 30, 2012 | 0 Comments

City Council Needs to Comply With Due Diligence Procedures

As I was driving through Old Town today, I passed a building that has created quite a stir in Old Town, Mission Hills and surrounding communities. It’s a building with a property owner who at this time is being rewarded for holding back information from two potential tenants. One is now a current tenant, Old Town Academy (OTA), which has been operating out of a building located at 2120 San Diego Avenue since the fall of 2011. This building, along with the one across the street, used to be the campus for Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

Unfortunately, the previous tenant, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, wasn’t a very good neighbor. Residents and aligning businesses will attest to that. And, unfortunately, the property owner didn’t care.

As you can expect, the residents in the surrounding area, Old Town and Mission Hills, were cautious about another school moving into the property. Fortunately, the outcome was that the Old Town Academy administration wanted to be good neighbors and that’s what they’ve become. Now the school is an asset to the community. And, the surrounding residents and businesses are like proud parents, they want to protect the school, the teachers and students.

2121 San Diego Avenue in Old Town is the proposed site of the VA facility.

So, now about the property across the street, located at 2121 San Diego Avenue, that’s a very unfortunate story. Today, I attended a meeting at city council chambers about the plans for this property, which is being referred to as a “Domiciliary Residential Rehabilitation and Treatment Program.” The Veterans Affairs (VA) is proposing a facility that would have 40 beds and provide treatment for war veterans who are impacted by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), mild to moderate brain injuries and possible substance abuse issues. It will also provide “private, hotel-type accommodations” for its clientele.

As a member of a very large audience at this city council session on this very topic, I was somewhat in shock by the way it was handled. In fact, the entire experience was somewhat disturbing. There was a fair amount of grandstanding, with emphasis from certain councilmembers that they are passionate about the needs of the military and returning veterans. And there was an “over the board political positioning” by ex-reporter, Marti Emerald. Besides her rant on how we need to support the returning troops, she criticized anyone who differed from her position.

The fact is that a property owner is getting a huge sum of money for a property that will only serve a very small segment of the “returning military population.” And he has done so at “our expense.” He doesn’t care about serving any population. He only cares about making money, huge sums of money at little benefit to the “military population to be served.” I know I am not alone in stating that this is totally unacceptable and wasteful.

If the intent is to serve the returning military, including a relative of mine who came back from Iraq with PTSD, then I would encourage our politicians to be fiscally responsible. Spend our tax payer dollars so that it makes sense, so that a large military population is served. The current plan is anything but fiscally sound and far reaching.

Additionally, the councilmembers forgot about the other organizations that are concerned with land use issues, including the Old Town Chamber of Commerce, the Mission Hills Town Council, Uptown Planners and the Western Slopes Organization.

None of the individuals that represent these groups was given an opportunity to speak. It became the VA against the OTA, which I know left a loft of local residents, business owners and organizational representatives in dismay.

The good news is that the councilmembers agreed on a continuance, and delayed a decision on the conditional use permit (CUP) until Tuesday, July 24. This time, I am hopeful that the members of the community and the aforementioned groups will have a chance to communicate with the councilmembers and not be ignored.

For the benefit of this effort, I am compiling information to review existing programs and facilities, here in San Diego, and in other parts of the United States that offer similar programs to what is to be at the proposed VA facility in Old Town.

If you’re interested in being a part of this process, please email me at

Category: Local News

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