San Diego City Council chambers. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The City Council Friday re-approved deals with Civic San Diego after a lawyer alleged violations of the state open meeting law two months ago when the agreements were originally passed.

The operating and agency agreements set the terms for how Civic San Diego performs its functions. The quasi-independent agency, formed after the state abolished the redevelopment system, assists city officials with development projects in downtown and some other neighborhoods.

In October, open-ended deals between the city and Civic San Diego failed to receive the necessary six votes for approval. When a five-year cap was added, six votes were no longer required, and the agreements passed on a 5-4 vote.

After the council again voted 5-4 last month on a second reading, lawyer Cory Briggs informed city officials that the item should not have been reconsidered at the October meeting, but placed on a later agenda. He also alleged Brown Act violations when council members met privately during a break in the meeting and by not giving the public an opportunity to comment on the amended term of the agreements.

The council can take corrective action within 30 days of receiving a notice of an alleged Brown Act violation, according to the City Attorney’s Office. City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said such action isn’t an admission of guilt.

The council members rescinded their votes to approve the amended agreements and then voted again on whether to adopt the deals. This time, Councilman Scott Sherman sided with the majority, making it 6-3. He dissented previously.

Civic San Diego has come under fire from both sides of the political spectrum, with critics calling for stronger oversight measures.

Even some council members who voted for the agreements in October acknowledged they weren’t perfect, but said the compromise formalized accountability and city oversight without expanding the agency’s responsibilities.

The special session was necessary — instead of simply waiting to next week’s regular meetings — because Councilman Todd Gloria is being sworn in in the Assembly on Monday.

—City News Service

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