SAN DIEGO-The Desert Pacific Council of the Dallas-based Boy Scouts of America saw their lease of city property at Balboa Park renewed this week despite protests over the national youth group’s official policy banning gays and atheists.

The council approved only a 25-year extension, however, not the half-century-long lease sought by the local chapter, which serves up to 25,000 scouts. Under the lease, the group must spend $1.7 million over the next seven years to upgrade the property and must pay an annual administrative fee of $2,500.

Mayor Dick Murphy says failure to renew the lease just to send a message to the Boy Scouts organization would be “unfair to San Diego children,” even though he personally opposed the group’s policy.

The scouts don’t allow homosexuals or those who do not profess a belief in God to be scouts or scout leaders. The council on Tuesday voted 6-3 to extend the lease for 25 years with a city option for 15 more years. Murphy, Scott Peters, Byron Wear, George Stevens, Brian Maienschein and Jim Madaffer voted for the extension. Toni Atkins, Donna Frye and Ralph Inzunza Jr. opposed it.

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