City Gives Disgraced Official 2nd Chance

James Waring was caught up in Sunroad's Centrum 1 tower controversy

The San Diego City Council appointed a former city official -- who resigned nearly two years ago in the wake of the Sunroad tower scandal -- to a new role.

James Waring was approved Tuesday by a 6-2 vote (with Donna Frye and Sherri Lightner opposed) to the San Diego Housing Commission, which aids low-income residents and others in finding affordable housing.

In August 2007, Waring stepped down as the city's deputy chief operating officer for land use and economic development. He had come under intense scrutiny for the way he handled the Centrum 1 project next to Montgomery Field.

The Federal Aviation Administration ruled that the building's height could not exceed 160 feet, despite its taller design. Waring allegedly attempted to work out a compromise that would permit the tower to be 6 feet taller. Then-City Attorney Mike Aguirre alleged that Waring attempted to lobby the city to OK the 166-foot height.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, who hired Waring for his previous city gig, nominated Waring for his new position.

"Mr. Waring's vast wealth of knowledge in the areas of law, land use and real estate investments, expertise in the management of nonprofit organizations and his solution-oriented and consensus-building nature will be invaluable additions to the Housing Commission," Sanders wrote.

Frye called Waring's nomination "most unfortunate," also saying his past would "taint" efforts undertaken by the commission.

"Unfortunately, the public perception does reflect reality with this particular candidate," Frye said.

For his part, Waring said "lies and untruths" had been spread about his role in the how the project was handled.
"It's been said that I approved that building or was an advocate of that building," Waring told the City Council. "The building was built at full height before I even knew it existed. So we had a problem, and what I tried to do -- and I tried very hard to do this, and was unsuccessful -- was to see if there was a solution to the problem that satisfied the interests of the FAA and the city of San Diego.
"What I was not smart enough to understand is that when an issue becomes a political issue, as opposed to a problem, that solutions are not necessarily an achievable outcome," he said.

Waring will fill a position left vacant by commissioner Tony Yip resigned.

Contact Us