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Mayor's Office Becomes a Development Partner in Southeastern San Diego

Andrew Keatts, VOICE OF SAN DIEGO

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

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But Erik Bruvold, president of the National University System Institute for Policy Research, said he isn’t sure the commitment to streamline approvals in the area can change developer decisions that much.
That’s because so many of the required steps developers that take the most time aren’t negotiable. The city might not be able to save much time just by making sure projects don’t languish in City Hall bureaucracy.
“There are some things that a new czar for certain projects can’t change,” he said.
There’s a group of city staffers in the city’s economic development department that does similar work for small businesses dealing with the city. Bruvold, who used to work for the San Diego Economic Development Corp. and for Mayor Jerry Sanders in economic development, said in his experience, staff was always most valuable prepping businesses for what they needed to do, not in fast-tracking things within the city.
The agreement is reminiscent, Bruvold said, of a toned-down version of the public-private partnership that led to the nine-block City Heights Urban Village. There, public agencies clustered the development of new projects like a new police station, school, library and recreation center, while private developers – with the help of redevelopment money – built housing and retail projects.
“I don’t know that it works as an economic development strategy,” Bruvold said. “It clearly created a nice urban amenity in City Heights, but City Heights was and remains a low-income neighborhood.”