Manchester gets his man on planning commission

Faulconer appoints designer of U-T’s Mission Valley condo tower

Doug Manchester, Kevin Faulconer
  • Doug Manchester, Kevin Faulconer

The election of mayor Kevin Faulconer appears to have paid off as expected for developer and U-T San Diego owner Douglas Manchester, who backed the Republican's campaign earlier this year with $356,000, funneled through GOP finance committees.

The voluble publisher has at least two big projects he's itching to get under way, downtown's so-called Navy Broadway Complex and the redevelopment of the U-T’s 12.86-acre Mission Valley headquarters.

A proponent of what might be called the modern baroque school of kitsch, Manchester hired architect Doug Austin to render the Mission Valley project, proposed to include room for the recently dwindling staff of Manchester's media operations as well as new improvements, including condos and commercial space.

Now the new mayor has appointed Austin to a spot on the powerful planning commission.

"Mr. Austin is a widely renowned expert in urban development," Faulconer said in a statement announcing the appointment.

"He established his own firm over 32 years ago that focuses on planning, architecture and design. Mr. Austin served as chair of Design and Construction Task Force for the city of San Diego's PetCo Park and Ballpark District as well as Vice Chairman of San Diego's Center City Development Corporation.

"He has been the recipient of over 100 Design Awards as well as several other awards for his contributions to his profession."

Manchester's announcement of the new U-T headquarters in May 2012 was accompanied by a literally glowing description of the project in his paper, featuring Austin.

Rendering of new U-T headquarters

Rendering of new U-T headquarters

"Doug Austin, whose architectural firm AVRP Studios is designing the project, said the hallmark will be a lighthouse structure at the top of the new office tower. It will incorporate a Times Square–type news ticker and a lantern that glows at night.

“I’ve always seen the paper as a beacon of the community, so it’s symbolic of that,” he said. “It’s out there to be the eyes and ears of the community — it’s a light. That’s the big inspiration piece.”

"Urban developments in suburban settings often pit residents against builders, but Austin said the U-T plan reflects San Diego’s desire to avoid Los Angeles–like sprawl and concentrate development so rural areas can be preserved.

"'It’s a perfect place to do it,' Austin said of the U-T site. "The traffic — that’s a technical thing that can be solved.'"

Under Democrat Bob Filner and his predecessor, Republican Jerry Sanders, the publisher didn't get far with his plans for the building and a giant video billboard he also wanted to install at the top of the existing U-T headquarters to promote the paper.

As reported here in May 2012, Manchester executive John Lynch reached out to then–city councilman Falconer with threats to use the newspaper if the publisher didn't get his way.

"News crawl and iconic LED video screen" proposed for U-T HQ

"News crawl and iconic LED video screen" proposed for U-T HQ

"Kevin," wrote Lynch in a February 29 email. "Attached, please find a design of the news crawl and iconic LED video screen. John Hadaya and Mariana Buenrostro of San Diego's Ultrasigns will co-ordinate with your office to secure a quick approval."

"This signage is an essential part of our strategy. We appreciate your assistance in leading the way for approval. Thanks again, Kevin...John."

On April 30, Lynch was back to ask another favor. City regulators had cited the U-T for hanging an illegal banner around the top of its headquarters:


"The UT was sent a citation calling for a fine of $1000 for the banner we have hanging on our building," Lynch wrote. "Per our meeting, I did not take it down while we are exploring the digital electronic sign.

"Please advise how we should respond.

"Should we proceed now? After the primary? After the fall election? Your counsel? What should we do?"

When Faulconer aide Katie Hansen told Lynch that the U-T banner had been the subject of public complaints and would have to go, he responded: "Katie, I have instructed that the banner to be taken down.

"If it weren't for the digital sign pending approval, I would instruct our folks to run a piece on how this is so reflective of this city being anti-business."

In addition to Austin, the new mayor has named longtime real estate lobbyist James Whalen to the planning commission. Says the release: "Mr. Whalen is a recognized government affairs expert, real estate developer and wildlife biologist."

According to his most recent lobbyist disclosure filing, dated April 23, Whalen's only client at the city during the first quarter was the Newland Group and its Tierra Alta project. Campaign contribution records show he gave $500 to Faulconer's mayoral campaign in January and $500 to the GOP Lincoln Club.

Austin has been more of a heavy hitter, giving a total of $11,415 since 2007, records show. He kicked in $5000 to Faulconer's mayoral cause and gave $1125 to GOP councilwoman Lorie Zapf in 2010.

Both appointments are set to go before the city council for ratification next month. We have an email in to Faulconer's office for more details.

Share / Tools

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • AddThis
  • Email

More from SDReader


Crazy Ugly Sign. And no stopping these disgusting bastards from pillaging the valley.

Papa Doug is going to get an excellent return on investment for the money he gave to Faulconer. No doubt this is only the beginning.

DENSITY by any other name is still DENSITY

SD Real Estate Build Outs (aka $D BO) and/or a new $tadium will return huge profits on what these Wealthy developers spent getting our newest Mayor elected.

Glossary of new Development terminology:

Walkable =====> Less on-street parking and much more Urban Density

Traffic Calming => Congested Traffic roadways, good for businesses

Transportation Corridor ===> Linear Urban In-Fill

Urbanization ===> Adding Density by increasing the building code height

Pat F, Well, probably not. The Dems who dumped on Filner, a true-blue old-school Dem, aren't the kind of Dem who ever sees the folly of our local Repubs. These willfully blind mongrel Dems are the New Democrat type, multiplied x100 in our setting = do whatever it takes to keep in the good graces of the Repubs who call the shots. They are next to useless to a true Democrat, and often do a lot of harm.

You don't need Manchester's proxy on the Planning Commission to know what the plan is. Perfect credentials: Petco, CCDC. Carry on, plunderers. Nobody here to stop you.

So Filner was arrogant and shortsighted enough to keep pursuing his perverse behavior and the big money got him out. So now they can keep pursuing their perverse, self serving business as usual. Wish I could say I was surprised. It sickens me.

So...you are ok with 18+ self serving attacks on women for any reason? What kid of Lib are you??? Wish I could say I was surprised but you really do demonstrate the Lib hate that is bringing this country down. The "big money" didn't get him out, he destroyed himself and should have never been there to begin with!!!

One may be psychological and redeemable, the other greed, and hopeless.

ayeis, apparently the ability to glean content from my post is not one of your strong points. Feel free to read the first sentence I posted. Go ahead, I'll wait. (Jeopardy music playing for an unusually long time in the background) Does that knee still have the desire to jerk around? Then try again! Go ahead, I'll wait. Oh, you're still with me here. Had Filner not had the disgusting habit of not keeping his hands to himself, he would still be in office, would still be going after the corporate welfare whores and Doug Manchester would have to be pursuing other means to continue his agenda. Yes, the big money did get him out, and they did it swiftly and apparently they did it so adeptly they obviously fooled someone like you. Any more judgements you'd like to pass?

Log in to comment

Skip Ad

Let’s Be Friends

Subscribe for local event alerts, concerts tickets, promotions and more from the San Diego Reader