San Diego Business Journal

The Centre City Development Corp., which oversees redevelopment in Downtown San Diego, violated the Brown Act by meeting in closed session with legal counsel to discuss eminent domain litigation.

That was the ruling on Nov. 22 of the 4th District Court of Appeal, reversing a Superior Court judge's earlier decision. The suit against the CCDC board of directors had been filed by civic watchdog Mel Shapiro.

The 4th District Court found that CCDC, created by the city, may not meet in closed session on behalf of the city's Redevelopment Agency when it is not a party to the litigation.

Some history: The city's Redevelopment Agency was created by the City Council in 1958 to improve blighted conditions in the urban areas. The agency coordinates the activities of its two nonprofit corporations, CCDC and the Southeastern Economic Development Corp.

"The city of San Diego owns us, and created us to do redevelopment of Downtown," said Peter Hall, outgoing president and chief operating officer of CCDC. "We operate on behalf of the city's Redevelopment Agency. We are a surrogate. We don't have the ability to do condemnations, only to advise the city that they should be done."

Neither can CCDC issue bonds or sell property without the City Council's approval, he added.

The CCDC board will be meeting with its legal counsel to discuss the ruling at its meeting next Wednesday, said Hall.

"It's much ado about nothing," he said. "It doesn't change the fundamental way we do business. But if we made a mistake, we'll change and make sure we don't do it that way next time."

San Diego City Attorney Michael Aguirre said he considers the ruling "wonderful. It reinforces the rights of the public, and reestablishes the power of the City Council to be the decision maker. It reestablishes the rule of law. The CCDC is an arm of the city, but the City Council is the redevelopment agency, where decisions need to be centered. They are the elected officials."

, Pat Broderick