It was a busy 21 months. We annexed 35,000 acres of Otay Ranch, approved a controversial major amphitheater and a water park I brought to the City, made formal commitments to smarter land use growth, environmental sustainability and electronic (email and online) access to government by the public, dismissed a City Attorney, hired a new one, negotiated and settled a half dozen union contracts, and balanced multi-million dollar budgets. We spent way too much time in closed session discussing legal settlements. Often times, our meetings went on until late in the evening. We recommended guidelines for the bay front and managed land use concepts that lead to pedestrian-friendly development of the newly-annexed property.
One night during our extensive and excellent Otay Valley amphitheater debate was unique. After 2-3 hours of public, staff and council discussion, a sound test was set up by a developer who believed the noise from the amphitheater would be too loud for houses to be sold. In the dark, several of us rode in SUVs over the undeveloped terrain to hear the impact of dozens of huge speakers set up on the amphitheater site. We could hardly hear the sound during the test…and we subsequently approved what would become Universal’s major concert venue. Mayor Shirley Horton and I had joined others to tour amphitheaters around Southern California earlier in the process. It was an enlightening land use decision.
Most of the time, our votes were 5-0 decisions that were the result of well-vetted discussion and thorough staff work. It was hard to err when the staff did their jobs as well as we expected. They were solid and informative. A couple of times I found myself on the odd end of 4-1 votes. I resisted pressure from Councilmembers and the applicants and cast “no” votes for the Bonita Grande Hotel at the golf course on Bonita Road and the Broadway Business Homes. Neither project broke ground. I think I voted the right way.
I was of the opinion that most Councilmembers made their decisions before public testimony was heard, and that they took themselves too seriously. I was seldom afraid to inject a little humor into my comments, to laugh at myself or the process, or to be candid in my comments to the media and the public.