Chula Vista's Bayfront redevelopment project is caught in the middle of a fight between the Port of San Diego and the Airport Authority over rental car fees, but on Tuesday the City Council decided to stand behind the port.
The port imposed $3.50 fee on rental car transactions at the Airport to cover the cost of a parking structure at the Chula Vista Convention Center.
Most are asking why the Port Authority collects a fee from car rentals at the Airport to pay for parking in another city. That’s because it can, or at least it did it when the San Diego Convention Center’s parking structure was being built.
The Airport Authority joined a lawsuit brought on by Enterprise Rent-a-Car and The Hertz Corporation against the Port to stop it from collecting those fees.
“Having the airport authority suddenly and without notice to us jump in to assert a claim against the court is not only troubling, it is unfair and outrageous,” Chula Vitsa Mayor Mary Casillas Salas said.
The Chula Vista Council voted unanimously Tuesday night in favor of a resolution that supports the Port's Transaction fee collections and promised to assist it in court if necessary.
Without those transaction fees the Port Authority is left looking elsewhere for the $40 million it committed to pay for a 1,600 space parking garage.
"Yeah, it was very disturbing because we did not get notice of it and, like I said, it was a fee that has been in place for two decades,” Port Authority Commissioner Ann Moore said.
The Airport Authority had representatives at the council meeting but passed on an on-camera interview. Off camera, an attorney told NBC 7 the airport authority isn't taking a side in the lawsuit and is just acting as what's called an "intervener" protecting its own interests.
"Our most pressing concern, however, is that failure to intervene in the lawsuit will strip us of our legal right to question any future Port-imposed fees on other airport transportation vendors (e.g. taxis, shuttles and ridesharing companies),” a statement from the Airport Authority read in part.
Both sides indicated something can be worked out, but the questions are how soon and at what cost to the project? The current estimated time of completion with no delays is 2022.
For anyone thinking this could derail the entire Bayfront project, the Port Authority says it has a "Plan B" to pay for that parking structure even though it expects to win in court.