San Diego

Port Officials Defend Convention Center From Provision in So-Called ‘Citizens Initiative'

San Diego Port officials are defending the Convention Center from one of the provisions in the so-called "Citizens Plan" Initiative, which would pave the way for a stadium and convention annex in East Village.

Thursday, they issued a warning that the provision is pre-empted by state law.

As it's been explained to NBC 7, the Port's pre-emption could jeopardize the entire measure.

The Citizens Plan’s author is attorney Cory Briggs, who declined to be interviewed because he was in court trying a case against the waterfront expansion of the convention center.

Port Commissioners confirmed the Port District's authority to pre-empt any "local law" aimed at "District activities or expenditures".

The target: the city of San Diego -- Qnd by extension, your residents who might vote on the Citizens Plan Initiative.

The measure would pave the way for a stadium and convention center annex in East Village.

And bar any waterfront expansion -- on the Port's "tidelands" -- not approved by way of a ballot measure.

But experts tell me if one element is found unlawful, the initiative could be rendered null and void.

Commissioners had no comment after passing the ordinance.

Attorney Gil Cabrera, speaking for himself and not as a member of the Convention Center's board of directors, told NBC 7 that their silence is legally sound -- and that the ordinance frames a debate likely headed for court.

"At some level they're framing the debate,” Cabrera said. “ The debate is going to be whether the state law, as enacted by the Port, pre-empts whatever happens at the local level . "It's not one of those things that you can generally opine on in the abstract.

“It's one of those things that you're going to want to see come to blows with the actual facts of what's happened."

One of Cory Briggs' allies behind the Citizens Plan, JMI Inc. executive Steve Peace, refused to go on camera with NBC 7.

But he sent a long email that read, in part:

Give them the air time. Make them talk. The only reason they survive is because they deflect public attention from themselves. We convinced Briggs to take a shot at resolving differences for the larger public benefit. To his credit he did that.

The initiative is really a comprehensive settlement offer. We will continue to encourage that because we believe it is the responsible thing to do. But, we can't force him to do so and, honestly, can't blame him for pulling the plug. He is not a politician, he is comfortable in court where there are rules and claims are subject to evidence and cross examination. Meantime, we have learned over the past year just how strong his cases are and how scurrilous the effort to smear him has been. As you know, the media has been the chief tool used in this effort. But, they have failed on every single claim in the courtroom. You can't blame him for simply sayin "guys, I tried. But, I have a legal responsibility to represent my clients. How do I ask them to compromise when we are winning in court and every overture to settle is met with Machiavellian nonsense that is all about ego and totally disconnected to actual self interest, let alone the public interest?"

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