While a public controversy rages around Sunday's waterfront stadium proposal by the U-T San Diego, another major project by the paper's owner has been facing difficulties with city planners.
According to a September 20, 2011 "Notice of Violation," provided by the mayor's office this month in response to a November request made under the state public records act, the Grand Del Mar resort, developed by U-T owner Douglas Manchester, has allegedly run afoul of the city's Resource Protection Ordinance.
Alleged violations include, "unauthorized grading, including removal of sensitive biological resources, to create and construct equestrian trails and construct an equestrian center at and around the Grand Del Mar Resort, approximately 30,700 square feet in size, including riding and grooming corrals, and a stable, approximately 4,000 square feet in size."
The notice says that the grading and construction was done "without required building or grading permits. This unauthorized grading and construction activity impacted a total area approximately 1.68 acres in size."
"The impacts occurred both inside and outside of the Multiple Habitat Planning Area (MHPA), on property containing Environmentally Sensitive Lands (ESL)," the notice alleges.
"The unauthorized grading and construction activity also impacted wetlands, steep hillsides, open space areas, mitigation areas, and property containing potential historical resources.
"The impacts constitute a violation of the City's Land Development Code Environmentally Sensitive Lands regulations, Historical Resources regulations, and violations of the California Department of Fish and Game, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
"Additionally, three (3) parking lots, with a total approximate size of 2.66 acres, have been constructed on the north side of the Grand Del Mar Resort in violation of Resource Protection Ordinance, Conditional Use and Planned Development Permit (RPO/CUP/PDP), No, 89-1296 BOUGAINVILLEA and in violation of the design regulations for parking lots in the San Diego Land Development Code."
The notice is only the tip of the iceberg of a years-long battle between the resort and city regulators over construction and grading activities on the sprawling site.
In an October 28 letter, lobbyist and attorney Paul Robinson advised the city that he had been hired by the resort and requested a delay in enforcement of the violation notice.
"Our firm was recently retained to address the issues set forth in the Notice.
"The Notice contains certain deadlines, including a deadline of October 31, 2011 to submit an application for Site Development Permits and amendments to the Resource Protection Ordinance, Conditional Use Permit and the Planned Development Permit No. 89-1296.
"Given our recent retention in this matter, we respectfully request a sixty (60) day extension of all deadlines set forth in the Notice, to allow time for due diligence and preparation of a submittal package."
The most recent document provided by the city is an agenda, dated November 21, entitled "Grand del Mar Resort, Meeting with the City," discussion items on which include "building without permits," "horse trails," and reference to a settlement agreement of a prior violation notice, as well as "process going forward."
The documents furnished by the city also include a letter, dated October 11, 2011, from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the Grand Del Mar.
"It has come to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) attention that you or your contractors may have discharged dredged or fill material into potential waters of the U.S. in association with the construction of equestrian trails, corrals, and stables," says the letter, which orders the resort to turn over a project discription and other documents for further investigation.
None of the records produced by the mayor so far document the current state of the review process.