Port of San Diego turns permit process into profit center

Port of San Diego turns permit process into profit center

300px-TenthAve.jpg (300×188)The Port of San Diego is breaking crazy new ground.

The agency — which has 500-plus employees and a $97 million annual budget to oversee maritime cargo and cruise ship facilities in a coastal area covering San Diego and four smaller cities — has turned the permitting process into a way to pad its coffers and ease its financial woes. The U-T San Diego Watchdog team had the rationale and the amazing details:

Amid budget problems last June, the port decided to impose fees to cover staff time spent processing paperwork and issuing approvals for new developments, improvement projects and lease negotiations.

The agency is charging up to $300 an hour or more for some staffers’ time, including salary, benefits and an apportionment of port overhead costs.

This adds up quickly. It’s like lawyers scavenging for billable hours:

Navy ship repairer BAE Systems was told it would cost $30,000 in port approval fees for a project that was only going to cost $50,000.

BAE wanted to replace two underground diesel storage tanks with one that was smaller and less environmentally above ground on its leased port property. After removing the older tanks, BAE decided not to put the new tank on port land after getting the bill in September. …

Mitsubishi Cement Corporation received a $586,385 bill on July 8 for its project to convert an old transit shed at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal into a cement import facility.

The overall estimate was later reduced to $446,000 to correct an error, port officials said.

San Diego port collects 15 times as much as Oakland port

The “cost recovery” program has no parallel at other California ports, the U-T noted.

The fees are more far-reaching than those at other ports in the state, according to an agency consultant. San Diego budgeted $1.5 million of revenue per year from such fees, compared to $100,000 typically collected for similar services at the Oakland port.

And the results are predictable.

GB Capital refused to pay at least $303,000 in port “cost recovery” fees and backed away from its plans to build shops, restaurants, a luxury RV resort and eventually a hotel at the National City marina.

“Cost recovery did influence our decision to back away from the project,” said Greg Boeh, general manager of GB Capital. “We believe in the project that we proposed and certainly would be willing to move forward if we could resolve the entitlement concerns.”

National City is a struggling blue-collar town with sky-high unemployment and a dearth of economic prospects. It could have used the GB Capital project.

But the port is sticking with the story that what it’s doing is reasonable.

Feel free to snicker. At least after you feel sorry for the businesses in the San Diego area that have to put up with this lunacy.


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  1. Bill Gore
    Bill Gore 19 July, 2014, 16:58

    SANDAG eat your heart out….
    The Port of San Diego is ‘living the dream’.

    Reply this comment
  2. californianative
    californianative 19 July, 2014, 17:29

    How long before the Panama Canal widening project is done? You know a couple hundred thousand in cost recovery fees here and there and pretty soon your talking real money. Those Gulf Coast and East Coast ports are getting closer every day.

    Reply this comment
  3. Donkey
    Donkey 20 July, 2014, 08:55

    “Cost recovery,” the new code phrase for raising taxes on the private sector, after exhausting the terms, taxes and fees.

    It is amazing the douche bags the RAGWUS machine churns out. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  4. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 20 July, 2014, 12:10

    The Ragwetti must recover costs for sophisticated services served up my slimy politicians passing over 1000 bills per year to control the hoards of people drawn to California.

    The state is undulated with too much civilization…..your head could explode!

    No one group socializes anymore….race is polarizing due to politician and media creeps.

    When you talk to someone they cower in disbelief or bend your ear for hours at how great they are……

    Just look at you lives….manipulative uncaring about the consequences media, mobile devices pumping you with idol worship nonsense….add to cart messages….Twits from Twits….lies and dangerous propaganda…so called discounts on outrageous slave labor merchandise.

    Proud of yourselves?

    Reply this comment
  5. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 20 July, 2014, 13:35

    Friend of mine in San Diego wanted to put on a balcony on his bedroom, smaller than a ping pong table. As a structural engineer, he figured he could build it for $2,000. He applied for a city permit — $8,000! And that assumes nothing out of the ordinary was found by inspectors or other city bureaucrats — then the fee would REALLY skyrocket!

    No balcony was built, of course.

    Reply this comment
  6. Hondo
    Hondo 21 July, 2014, 22:22

    Kalifornia has more economic assets than any place on earth. Except for the Demoncratic party.

    Reply this comment

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