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Troutman Sanders Notches Big Win Over Belmont Park Lease


Client to maintain lease and continue upgrades to iconic oceanfront amusement park

SAN DIEGO – Troutman Sanders has notched a big win on behalf of an affiliate of real estate developer Pacifica Enterprises – Symphony Asset Pool XVI, LLC – that preserves the lease extension through 2070 and allows for the continued operation and upgrades of San Diego’s historic Belmont Park at Mission Beach.

Symphony had previously invested over $20 million into the property when San Diegans for Open Government (SDOG), led by attorney Cory Briggs, sued the City of San Diego to terminate the lease and halt the upgrades and improvements at Belmont Park. SDOG claimed the lease violated a city initiative ending development and commercial operations at Belmont Park, requiring the site to revert to open park land. SDOG also argued the lease violated the city charter, California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the California Coastal Act. On Nov. 2, Judge Judith F. Hayes denied all petitions, finding the city followed all laws on every issue and that the lease may continue.

“We are pleased with the judge’s finding and look forward to what it ultimately means for Belmont Park,” said Mike Whitton, managing partner of Troutman Sanders’ San Diego office and lead architect behind the defense. “Our client’s renovations to the iconic property will bring it back to its former glory while simultaneously bringing in millions of dollars to the city to benefit local families and tourists alike.”

Specifically, the lease will bring more than $100 million in revenue to the city and includes $18 million in capital improvements and upgrades, $2.5 million to refurbish the Giant Dipper rollercoaster, and $5.9 million in renovations to The Plunge indoor swimming pool and building.

The central argument behind the lawsuit dates to the 1980s and a ballot initiative called Proposition G. In 1987, a group of Mission Beach community members came together in response to the redevelopment of Belmont Park to campaign against development sprawl along Mission Beach. The campaign ended in a compromise initiative – Proposition G – allowing the previously approved Belmont Park project to continue, but protecting other undeveloped areas along the beach from development sprawl.

Whitton led the Troutman Sanders team on the defense with Partner Peter Villar arguing, and Robert Brewer of Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek serving as co-counsel. The city was represented by Chief Deputy City Attorney M. Travis Phelps.

About Troutman Sanders
Troutman Sanders LLP is an international law firm with more than 650 lawyers in 15 offices located throughout North America and Asia. Founded in 1897, the firm’s lawyers provide counsel and advice in practically every aspect of civil and commercial law related to the firm’s core practice areas: Corporate, Energy and Industry Regulation, Finance, Litigation and Real Estate. Firm clients range from multinational corporations to individual entrepreneurs, federal and state agencies to foreign governments, and non-profit organizations to businesses representing virtually every sector and industry. See for more information.