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 Post subject: Gliderport Lease - Union-Tribune Article
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 9:59 am 
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It looks like the San Diego Union-Tribune is shining the light on the crooked Gliderport Lease deal. Here's the article from today's paper:

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2015/jun/08/gliderport-lease/

San Diego Union-Tribune, Monday June 8th, 2015 wrote:
Gliderport lease hangs in the balance
Breathtaking Torrey Pines lot has had month-to-month deal since 2008
By Greg Moran 5:55 a.m.June 8, 2015


It’s San Diego City Historical Site #315, listed on both the state and national Registry of Historic Places, a small patch of land on an ocean bluff known as “The Kitty Hawk of the West.”

With multicolored paragliders and hangliders swooping off a cliff face nearly every day of the year, the Torrey Pines Gliderport is one of the most recognizable spots in the San Diego. Gliding enthusiasts and tourists flock there year-round.

For the past two decades the city has leased the property to a private company founded by a former city police officer, which runs flight operations, sells flying lessons and equipment.

And it’s all rent free.

The city collects no money under the terms of the lease — known as a “flat-rate lease” — which was first negotiated in an exclusive, no-bid arrangement in 1998. That agreement expired in 2008.

Since then, for nearly the past seven years, the lease has been on “holdover” status — a month-to-month deal that keeps the same terms and conditions in place.

The original owners of Air California Adventures, David Jebb and his wife, sold the business to a new owner and current flight director Robin Marien in early 2009.

That sale may violate some provisions of the lease. One section requires that any “assignment” of the lease be approved by the city in advance, which did not happen. Another section specifically says that Jebb has to own 51 percent of the company while the lease is in effect.

A letter from a Real Estate Assets Department official in February 2009 to Jebb questioned whether the assignment of the lease could even be done.

“As the city has made you aware, it is somewhat uncommon to assign a lease on holdover status,” the letter said. It went on to note the lease had “existing legal entanglements and a number of outstanding violations.”

Last week, in response to questions from The San Diego Union-Tribune, the city real estate department said it never approved the sale because of the settlement of a lawsuit that had been filed by an environmental group in 2008, and called for the development of a general plan for the park. It said the non-approval would “rectified” when the lease is put out for bid.

That plan was adopted by the city in June 2012. There’s been no move to put the lease up for bid since. Last month, the real estate department said that a request for bids would be issued in 45 days. Then last week, officials changed that timeline. The city now says a “Request for Interest” will be sent out in late summer, then based on that response bid requests would be sent out later.

Asked why it has taken three years to move to redo the lease, a department spokesman said all such proposals are “prioritized based upon staff workload and scheduling.”

Whenever bids are sought there will be one change: the new lessee will pay rent. The city said it plans to charge $3,412.50 annually to operate the glider port, which sits on a two-acre lot amid 57 acres of parkland.

Marien did not want to be interviewed and instead referred questions about the lease to his lawyer, Christopher Saldana. The no-rent lease is an advantage to San Diego, Saldana said, because under state law cities that allow hazardous activities to take place on land can’t be sued for injuries — as long as the agency doesn’t charge a fee to use it.

“My belief is the city made a decision in the past not to charge rent so they wouldn’t change their liability,” he said.

There have been some lawsuits filed over accidents there over the years, including one in 2013 over a mid-air paraglider collision that injured a woman. The lawsuit eventually settled for a confidential amount, and the city was not named as a defendant.

The collision was captured on a video being made by another instructor who was in the air, according to the court file. That video shows two paragliders operated by instructors purposely colliding into each other, among other risky acts.

The suit argued such conduct is not unusual, said Brett Schreiber, the lawyer for the woman, who said the city needs to take a harder look at the leaseholder, Air California Adventures.

“They’ve given the keys to the land to ACA, and washed their hands of it,” Schreiber said.

Saldana argued the facility has a strong safety record that is among the top five for all gliding sites in the world. There have been only a handful of collisions at the site, which has about 300 days of flying per year and about 100 flights a day, or an estimated 30,000 landings each year.

The suit also contained a lengthy declaration from Robert Kuczewski, a longtime pilot of hang gliders and paragliders who has been a persistent critic of ACA. He said he has observed numerous safety violations over the years, and those who object are ostracized by the leaseholder.

Kuczewski said the city has to take a more active role.

“You can’t have someone operate outside the bounds of fairness and safety,” he said.

Saldana said such critiques are wrong. In May, ACA and Marien sued Kuczewski for defamation in a case that is still pending in San Diego Superior Court.

Saldana said that ACA doesn’t make much profit with the lease, though he declined to say exactly how much. Most users are members of clubs who can pay a yearly fee of $200. Flying with instructors on a paraglider costs $175 and hang gliding $225. Lessons to become a certified pilot begin at $895.

“It simply isn’t an unsafe place,” Saldana said.

Whenever the city puts the lease out, he said, his clients plan to bid on it.

The no-rent lease is one of a handful that the city has. In 2008 the then-head of the real estate department questioned the wisdom of a rent-free deal to a for-profit business on public land.

“I don’t want to give away anything to anybody for any reason,” the official, Jim Waring, told The San Diego Union-Tribune.

That was months before the lease expired, and before the city began extending it on holdover status.

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 Post subject: Re: Gliderport Lease - Union-Tribune Article
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 10:32 am 
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That is a start. But so much was left unsaid!
The silliness of trying to say that critique is in error just because someone has money to file some lawsuit! Non sequitor.

The City might still be liable for gross negligence of oversight of their park.

Hold over does not give right to break the terms of the lease.

=====================
Let's lease a small patch of ramp to be used for the public citizens fully apart for store holders.
Free lease! Cut down the patch that Marien. Equity for recreation.

Bid? Free lease? What is involved in a bid for the site?
Is there just a plan in a bid for the lease?


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 Post subject: Re: Gliderport Lease - Union-Tribune Article
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 11:52 am 
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Torrey pilots should immediately apply for a public service non-profit that would provide site management on a paid or volunteer basis.
Local clubs could provide most of the management.
All commercial aspects should be diminished.
Fees should be based on maintenance costs only.
Non-USHPA members could fly as powered ultralights with small strap-to-keel electric "sustainer" units. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Gliderport Lease - Union-Tribune Article
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 1:54 pm 
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I encourage everyone to write to Greg Morgan and give their opinions about the site. Don't make it personal, just tell him the facts as you see it or have experienced first hand. The media has taken up an interest, so lets use this opportunity to shine a light on the lack of oversight. This one story could be worth 100 Bob trips to the city council comment sessions.


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 Post subject: Re: Gliderport Lease - Union-Tribune Article
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 3:00 pm 
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"Greg Moran is a member of The San Diego Union-Tribune's investigative reporting team, with a strong background in legal affairs and an emphasis on federal agencies. He has been at the U-T since 1991. Moran covered the case of Santana High School shooter Charles “Andy” Williams, the legal battle over the Mount Soledad cross, and the state and federal criminal cases against members of the San Diego pension board. He graduated from Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., with a bachelor’s degree in English. In addition to winning state and regional journalism awards, Moran was part of the first class of journalists selected to attend the Journalist Law School at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles."

greg.moran@utsandiego.com

Source: http://www.utsandiego.com/staff/greg-moran/


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 Post subject: Re: Gliderport Lease - Union-Tribune Article
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 3:18 pm 
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Pilot education:
San Diego Union-Tribune, Monday June 8th, 2015 wrote:
Gliderport lease hangs in the balance
Breathtaking Torrey Pines lot has had month-to-month deal since 2008
By Greg Moran 5:55 a.m. June 8, 2015:
Quote:
“The collision was captured on a video being made by another instructor who was in the air, according to the court file.”


#1) Does anyone have a link to the video that was,
Quote:
“made by another instructor who was in the air, according to the court file.”
?

I only viewed a video of the woman’s crash that was made by and instructor that was on the ground.
The video was removed from Youtube.


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 Post subject: Re: Gliderport Lease - Union-Tribune Article
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 6:19 pm 
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Pilot education:
Gliderport lease hangs in the balance.
Breathtaking Torrey Pines lot has had month-to-month deal since 2008.
By Greg Moran 5:55 a.m. June 8, 2015:
Quote:
"Saldana said that ACA doesn’t make much profit with the lease, though he declined to say exactly how much."

Attachment:
Lease.JPG
Lease.JPG [ 18.01 KiB | Viewed 2769 times ]

Attachment:
Records and accounts available to the City for inspection.JPG
Records and accounts available to the City for inspection.JPG [ 36.29 KiB | Viewed 2769 times ]

A freedom of information request will force the City of San Diego to enforce this paragraph of the lease.
If the records don’t exist the lease has been breached.
Quote:
"Most users are members of clubs who can pay a yearly fee of $200.
Flying with instructors on a paraglider costs $175 and hang gliding $225.
Lessons to become a certified pilot begin at $895."


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 Post subject: Re: Gliderport Lease - Union-Tribune Article
PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 9:11 am 
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It seems you have to be a Facebook member to post at the paper's web site. Not being a Facebook member, I sent an email to the reporter instead. Here it is -

I wrote:
Hello Greg,

I wanted to post a comment connected with your recent story about the City of San Diego's business lease with Air California Adventure. Unfortunately, the ability to post involves having a Facebook account - something I do not have, or wish to have. However, I've decided to send my comment direct to you via your email.

Here's my comment -

A year or so ago I saw a copy of the actual lease involved. The business named in the lease is Air California Adventure LLC, Owner - David Jebb. But if you go to the California Secretary of State's Business Registration web site and look up Air California Adventure LLC, it indicates that ACA LLC is suspended and may not legally do business in the State of California. A number of years ago a new For Profit Corporation was formed called Air California Adventure INC. Owner - Robin Marien. The NEW company and NEW owner have NO (valid) lease with the City of San Diego. It may be closer to the truth to refer to the current business operating at the site as "squatters" on city owned public property. This brings up a lot of questions.

As far as how much money the business makes at the site, I recently observed, on a typical day - in the space of 20 minutes - 6 tandem paragliding flights being conducted. At $175 a piece that comes to $1,050.00. It would be very easy for the business to do 6 tandem paraglider flights 10 times a day. That comes to $10,500 a day - only from tourist tandem rides.

Since Torrey Pines has flyable weather 300 days out of the year, that allows for a possible business income in the area of $3,000,000.00 (that's 3 million dollars!) . A very conservative estimate would be well over $1,000,000.00 a year.

Neither of these figures includes yearly pilot flight passes ($200), Beginner to Novice solo flight instruction ($895 and up), food sales, tourist item sales, or paragliding equipment sales (in the order of $5,000 - $10,000 a pop for a canopy, harness and helmet). A realistic guess for total yearly gross income may be north of $4 mill. To know for sure, I'm sure the city could conduct an audit. But the claim by ACA Inc's lawyer, Saldana "that ACA doesn’t make much profit with the lease" seems to be a bit of an understatement.

Well, that's my comment. I know more about the situation as well. Such as staff of ACA committing Assault and Battery as well as filing false trespassing complaints against a local citizen (i.e., Bob Kuczewski). The defamation law suit filed by ACA Inc. is indeed also a furtherance of their harassment of Mr. Kuczewski. They are clearly retaliating against him regarding his outspoken public position regarding the safety of both the pilots and public at Torrey Pines City Park.

Sincerely,

[Me]

(Flying hang gliders since 1975)


PS - Although vaguely worded, the lease never states that any kind of flying equipment may be sold at the site or that flight lessons of any type be may be sold. If the City wanted to avoid significant liability they could simply create a new lease that excluded concessionaire activities that involve flight related activity (equipment sales, lessons, tandem paraglider rides, etc.). The concessionaire could simply sell food, tourist souvenirs, and register pilots (for a small fee) looking to fly the site. The original lease wasn't meant to put a few million dollars a year into the concessionaire's pocket. It was meant to help pay one (or two?) people a reasonable amount in exchange for their service as a Flight Director at the site.


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 Post subject: Re: Gliderport Lease - Union-Tribune Article (The actual lea
PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:00 am 
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Here is the path of my search on the US Hawks website for the lease agreement between the concessionaire at Torrey Pines Glider Port and the City of San Diego, CA.
But all you have to do to go directly there is to click on the very last link at the bottom of this post.
http://takebacktorrey.com/ Go to this link next click on
http://takebacktorrey.com/docs/index.htm then click on
Glider port lease---
http://takebacktorrey.com/docs/lease/LEASE.HTM


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 Post subject: Re: Gliderport Lease - Union-Tribune Article
PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:21 am 
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Attachment:
TorreyLease1pt5b.JPG
TorreyLease1pt5b.JPG [ 21.56 KiB | Viewed 2713 times ]


City, consider establishing a designated place for hang glider launching for the public and Torrey Hawks and other hang gliders, not soaring parachutes.
Take turns with other flight operations. Have any concessions separate from the hang glider launch. Keep the concession INSIDE THE BUILDING.
The public good will be served by establishing an easement for recreational hang gliding unstifled by a deeply for-profit parachute business. Return some public park to the public park.


Last edited by JoeF on Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:25 am, edited 2 times in total.

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