La prensa

Inzunza Used Rented Room to Establish Residency

Parco Apartments
Author: La Prensa
Created: 16 June, 2024
Updated: 26 June, 2024
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9 min read

By Arturo Castañares
Editor-at-Large

former Mayor vying for a political appointment used a single room in a rented apartment to establish residency in the City just days after
National City's Port Commissioner was censured by her colleagues.

Nicholas “Nick” Inzunza, 53, who served a single term as Mayor of National City from 2002 to 2006, applied two weeks ago to be the City’s Commissioner on the San Diego Unified Port District.

Inzunza
Nick Inzunza during his presentation at City Council, June 13, 2024.
 

Inzunza left office in December 2006 without running for re-election after a San Diego Union-Tribune story reported that he owned over 100 run-down apartments that were the subject of lawsuits, complaints, and code violations, but he then tried to blame his wife for the dilapidated units to protect his political career. 

This week Inzunza contacted and emailed Councilmembers in a last-ditch effort to salvage his candidacy for the prestigious post.

The rental agreement Inzunza sent to Councilmembers this week shows he secured the room within a shared apartment on October 14th, just three days after the Port released a report criticizing Commissioner Sandy Naranjo who had been serving since December 2020.

The timing of Inzunza’s move back into National City raises questions about his involvement in the Council's decision to remove her last month.

Inzunza was one of six individuals who applied to fill the vacancy created when the City Council removed Naranjo on a 3-2 vote. 

Although Inzunza had served as National City's Mayor, he later moved to Coronado and community leaders doubt he has lived in National City recently.

The Port requires that Commissioners live within the City that appoints them.

After a La Prensa San Diego article this week disclosed that Inzunza voted in the March 5th Primary Election using the address of an office suite within a mixed-use apartment complex in National City, Inzunza sent an email to all of the members of the City Council which included a copy of a rental agreement for a room within the Parco Apartment complex.

Article - Uber

Before running the earlier story this week, La Prensa San Diego texted Inzunza for clarification on the timing of his residency in National City, but he did not respond. Inzunza did not provide the lease agreement to La Prensa San Diego.

Inzunza

On June 12th, La Prensa San Diego reported that Inzunza used 800 B Avenue, Unit 203, as his residence address when he changed his voter registration on November 7, 2023.

Inzunza had previously been registered to vote at a home in National City owned by Beautiful National City, a limited liability company owned solely by Inzunza. The home was sold in May 2023.

Inzunza

It now appears Inzunza mistakenly used 800 B Ave #203 instead of 135 East 9th St, #203-3 which is in the second building included within the Parco complex. 

According to the rental agreement, Inzunza rented a single co-living bedroom within a shared apartment unit on October 14th for a ten-month term through August 18th. 

Lease

Inzunza has been paying $1,480 per month in rent.

San Diego County Registrar of Voters records show Inzunza voted in the March 5, 2024, Primary Election while still registered at the B Avenue address. 

State election laws require that voters use their residence, known as a domicile, as their address for voting purposes. Courts have ruled on the definition of “domicile” to include the residence where someone lives or intends to return after an absence, but cannot use a business address to qualify to vote.

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Someone may have multiple residences but can only have one domicile at a time. 

Although Inzunza owns two homes within National City, it appears he rented a single room with unknown roommates within the Parco Apartment complex to quickly establish residency within the City.

The voter registration form Inzunza completed in November 2023 where he used the 800 B Ave address requires a signature under penalty of perjury stating that the information is “true and correct.” Inzunza signed it on November 7, 2023. 

Last week, Inzunza submitted a new voter registration form to change his address from 800 B Ave #203 to 1441 Hoover Ave in National City even though the apartment room rental continues through August 18th. 

The newest voter registration form lists the Hoover address as "Home Address" but Inzunza used a PO Box in Coronado as his "Mailing Address".

Inzunza

Inzunza used the 1441 Hoover Ave address as his residence and work address on the application he submitted to the City on May 28th for consideration for the vacant Port District position. 

La Prensa San Diego visited the Hoover home earlier this week and found two men there who claimed they were renting the home as a short-term vacation rental. 

Inzunza was not at the property. 

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The 1441 Hoover address, along with the adjoining property at 1443 Hoover, are both owned by Beautiful National City, LLC, a company wholly owned by Inzunza. The properties are listed for sale together for $699,000. 

Hoover
Picture of 1441 Hoover taken on June 11, 2024. 

 

Inzunza contacted Councilmembers this week and sent a copy of the Parco room rental agreement, as well as copies of utility bills for 1441 Hoover listing his name as the customer as proof of his residency. 

But the SDGE bills Inzunza sent to Councilmember for the billing months of January and May 2024 list a PO Box in Coronado as the mailing address for Inzunza. 

Hoover SDGE

After Inzunza left office in 2006, he moved his family to Coronado where he lived until 2016 when he changed his voter registration address to a home in National City.

That Coronado home at 818 Third Avenue is currently owned 50% each by Inzunza and his now-ex-wife, Olga Payan.

Inzunza continues to use the same PO Box mailing address in Coronado for several other properties he owns. 

When Inzunza applied for the vacancy of the Port District Board of Commissioners two weeks ago, he listed his occupation as “Former Mayor of National City and Real Estate Owner and Investor”.

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The application clarified that applicants must live in National City, and specifically asked if the person is registered to vote and lives in National City. 

Inzunza answered “Yes” to both questions.

When asked on the application for his “Term of Residency”, Inzunza replied “On and Off since 1987. From 1987 to the present, I have been in residency 30 of the last 40 years” but did not provide specific dates of his residency.

PORT APPOINTMENT

The City Council held a Special Meeting on Thursday, June 13, to interview five candidates who applied to fill the Port position. 

In addition to Inzunza, the other applicants were Dr. Gil Ungab, a retired cardiologist; Mitch Beauchamp, a former City Councilman; Alexander Fernandez, a Longshoreman; Cheddy Matthews, a Leadership and Executive Coach; and former City Councilman and former City Clerk Mike Dalla who withdrew his application for the appointment last week.

During the meeting, several people spoke in favor of Dr. Ungab, one spoke in favor of Fernandez, but no one spoke in favor of Inzunza. 

Several of the speakers directly criticized Inzunza while he sat in the audience.

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Each applicant was given an opportunity to speak, but Inzunza did not clarify his residency or offer any explanation of the issues raised by La Prensa San Diego except to say it was the “truth” that he lives at the Hoover home.

After hearing from the applicants, each Councilmember announced which candidate they supported. Any candidate that received at least one vote would move on to a second round of voting.

Mayor Morrison, Councilman Marcus Bush, and Councilwoman Luz Molina indicated they supported Ungab, while Councilwoman Ditas Yamane and Councilman Jose Rodriguez backed Inzunza.

Inzunza has donated $2,000 to Rodriguez’s last two campaigns and Yamane was a business partner with Inzunza in a proposed bank that did not open in 2009 but became part of a civil lawsuit filed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the federal government entity that insures deposits and supervises financial institutions. 

After each Councilmember indicated their preference, Councilwoman Molina made a motion to appoint Dr. Ungab and Councilwoman Yamane seconded the motion.

All five Councilmembers then voted unanimously to select Dr. Ungab as the City’s new Port Commissioner.

Ungab was sworn in to office the next day and will serve through the end of Naranjo’s unexpired term in December. The City Council will then have an opportunity to re-appoint him for a full four-year term or select another person to fill the position.

PORT VACANCY

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The vacancy as the City’s Commissioner on the Port District occurred after the City Council voted 3-2 to remove Commissioner Sandy Naranjo before the end of her term.

Naranjo had been the subject of a report issued by the Port detailing allegations of inappropriate behavior they claimed she engaged in after she raised concerns with the Port's General Counsel, Thomas Russell.

During a closed session Port meeting to review Russell’s performance, Naranjo raised concerns she had about outside business interests and potential conflicts Russell may have had.

Russell dismissed the concerns and Naranjo ended up voting to approve Russell’s new contract and pay raise.

But after the meeting, the Port spent $150,000 on outside lawyers to investigate Naranjo and her colleagues later voted to censure her, a move that had never happened since the Port was created in 1962. Naranjo was removed as the Board’s Vice-Chair and barred from becoming Chair in December. 

On May 7th, the City Council voted 3-2 to remove Naranjo with Mayor Ron Morrison and Councilmembers Jose Rodriguez and Ditas Yamane voting in favor, and Councilmembers Luz Molina and Marcus Bush opposed.

Naranjo was immediately removed from her position and the City moved forward with the process to replace her. 

Applications for the appointment were accepted until May 28. 

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