Judge rejects lawsuit challenging $120M infrastructure bond

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SAN DIEGO -- About $120 million in city and neighborhood projects throughout San Diego can now move forward after a Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday that the City of San Diego's financing plan is legal.

The lease revenue bond financing plan, which the city has used since the 1980s, had been on hold for months after a lawsuit was filed challenging its legality.

A lawsuit by lawyer Cory Briggs sought to outlaw the use of lease revenue bonds to pay for city infrastructure projects – replacing storm drains and sidewalks, repaving streets and building libraries and fire stations. At the time he filed his lawsuit, Briggs publicly accused city attorney Jan Goldsmith of allowing the city to use an illegal financing method.

“Our city attorney doesn’t go to any great lengths to make sure the city follows the law,” Briggs said.

"This lawsuit was unnecessary," Goldsmith said. "Like it or not, the Supreme Court has found lease revenue bonds legal and they are relied on for infrastructure projects by cities throughout California."

Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer declared the ruling "a victory."

“This ruling is a victory for all of San Diego’s neighborhoods,” Faulkoner said. “Now that this legal roadblock has been removed, we’ll be able to move aggressively on neighborhood repairs and ensure every community benefits. I want to thank City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and his team for working diligently to win this case on behalf of all San Diegans.”

The $120 million in lease revenue bonds will fund projects prioritized by Mayor Faulconer and the City Council earlier this year. The list includes $1 million for new sidewalks, new or reconstructed fire stations in City Heights, Hillcrest, Skyline and on Home Avenue, a new Mission Hills/Hillcrest Branch Library and a new lifeguard station in Mission Beach.

In addition, the money will be used on branch libraries in Skyline, San Carlos and San Ysidro, upgrades to police department facilities and lighting for sports fields in Tierrasanta, among other things.

The original list of projects also included $43 million for street repairs. The city is using other funding sources to move forward with those road projects and can now identify other projects to spend that money on.

Fox 5 contacted Attorney Briggs for comment. He did not return the phone calls.

The San Diego city attorney said the city is working on a legal plan to move the projects forward and prevent anymore project delays, should Briggs file an appeal against the ruling.

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