Does a San Diego port commissioner’s rental of a luxury yacht berth at the downtown Marriott marina pose a conflict of interest for him when voting on extending the giant hotel’s lease with the port? Not at all, according to a September 22 advice letter from the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission.
The port’s Bob Nelson, a wealthy public relations man, “has a month-to-month Boat Slip Agreement with Marriott that requires him to pay a wharfage fee of $1,000 per month for exclusive use of a boat slip at the marina,” says the letter from agency counsel Hyla P. Wagner. Pacific Gateway, Ltd., “leases approximately 1,608,463 square feet of tidelands and water area in the City of San Diego. That tidelands and water area includes two hotel towers, buildings, a lobby, a convention center, restaurants, meeting rooms, administrative offices, parking, and a 435 slip marina. Marriott manages the hotel on behalf of Pacific pursuant to a management agreement between Pacific and Marriott.”
The lease on the property between the port and Pacific is up for approval by the commission. Since “there is no indication of a potential for profit or loss with respect to the Boat Slip Agreement between Marriott and the Commissioner as a result of the approval or denial of the renewal or extension of the lease between the District and Pacific,” Nelson is in the clear, the opinion says. The sailing commissioner pushed hard last year to hold the next America’s Cup in San Diego, but the effort lost out to Bermuda.