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Go-Between for Government? : Gotch to Join Torrey Enterprises

November 17, 1987|ARMANDO ACUNA | Times Staff Writer

Veteran Councilman Mike Gotch--who leaves office next month after eight years--has a new job. Starting Dec. 15, he will be vice president of community affairs for Torrey Enterprises Inc., a La Jolla-based development firm owned by Doug Manchester.

"We've always admired the way he has conducted business and conducted himself while on the City Council," said Torrey Enterprises President Kip Howard. "We're very excited about Mike. . . . He will be a very, very good asset for us."

Salary Is a Secret

Howard, who declined to reveal Gotch's new salary, said Gotch will eventually play a multifaceted role in the company, which is best-known for construction of the 1,364-room Marriott Hotel (formerly the Hotel Inter-Continental) on Harbor Drive next to Seaport Village.

"He'll be assisting in directing our development activities," said Howard, who explained that once Gotch is solidly grounded in the company, he will participate in development negotiations. Torrey Enterprises, Howard said, is looking to become involved in several new developments now that the management problem at the Marriott Hotel has been resolved, and Gotch fits into those expansion plans.

Gotch said one of the reasons he took the job is that "it went beyond government relations" and will include "all facets of commercial real estate." This may involve construction of industrial parks, more hotels and downtown housing.

The new job, Gotch said, "offers me an opportunity to develop further my business skills and remain involved in the political process and remain in San Diego . . . and really not have to live paycheck to paycheck."

Gotch, who also declined to say how much he will be paid, except to say it will be more than his City Council salary of about $45,000 a year, said he anticipates representing Torrey before the Board of Port Commissioners--where most of the company's public business is conducted--as well as in front of the City Council.

"I think my familiarity with them (City Council) will get me the appointment to get in the door . . . but once I'm in," Gotch said, "I'll make my argument on the basis of the facts as I present them."

There is also some speculation that hiring Gotch may help Torrey Enterprises, and specifically Manchester, repair its relationship with Mayor Maureen O'Connor. The mayor, a former member of the Board of Port Commissioners, has long been critical of Manchester's dealings with the Port District. The Marriott Hotel, for example, is built on Port District property.

Manchester Versus the Mayor

Last January, the mayor protested long and hard when Manchester attempted to sell his $100 option to build a waterfront hotel on Port District property for $15 million. O'Connor accused Manchester of blatant speculation and of attempting to make "obscene profit."

Manchester said it was "ludicrous beyond imagination" for his opponents to accuse him of speculation because he had to build the $200-million Marriott Hotel and turn over 12 adjacent acres to the Port District for construction of the convention center before he obtained the $100 option.

Howard acknowledged his firm's relations with the mayor are poor but emphasized that that played no role in Gotch's hiring. "That's not why he was hired by any means," Howard said.

"We are very desirous to start a dialogue with the mayor. I would welcome anyone who could help to improve that," Howard said. At the same time, Howard said no one at Torrey Enterprises would tell Gotch "to stay away from the mayor."

"I hope to continue the open access to the mayor's office I've had in the past," Gotch said. "I want to make the same sound, reasonable, factual presentations as I have in the past and hope I have some influence with the mayor and the rest of the council."

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