Keeping the Chargers in San Diego could come at the cost of destroying East Village.
That’s what a few dozen architects, developers and urban planners are trying to tell the city.
They’ve banded together to reframe what they say is an unbalanced conversation on the future of the neighborhood, home to an iconic library and established arts community, along with blocks of warehouses and homeless encampments.
Right now, there’s one vision for the neighborhood floating around, the one proposed in the so-called Citizens’ Plan, an initiative that would, among other things, build a convadium – a football stadium-convention center – next door to Petco Park. It’s backed by an unlikely but powerful team: attorney Cory Briggs, the Chargers, former Councilwoman Donna Frye, former Assemblyman Steve Peace and former Padres owner John Moores and his company, JMI Realty.
This group of city-planner types doesn’t like the plan. In fact, they think it could prove fatal to a neighborhood that’s expected to shoulder a significant burden of providing new homes to the city’s growing population.
“Decisions are being made, but we haven’t been asked for feedback in our own community,” said David Malmuth, a developer of the I.D.E.A. District, a cluster of projects in the neighborhood.
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Here is hoping that the final plan to be floated by the East Village People will include key elements required in any real plan:
1. What is their specific vision for the property in question? How many buildings? What size buildings? Parks?
2. Are the owners of that property involved in the groups current planning?
3. Have the current owners bought into the plans proposed uses of their property?
4. If not, who will come forward with enough money to buy the property in question from it's current owners?
5. Does the final plan name the specific educational groups or universities who have firmly committed to moving
some of their operations downtown. UC Berkeley and Stanford have been mentioned as interested universities.
If so, the final plan should indicate what and where they plan to build downtown in south east village.
7. What is the overall budget to implement the new plan?
8. Where will the money for the budget come from?
9. A final plan should include an environmental impact report in compliance with CEQA, including proposed mitigation
for any negative impacts the new development would create.
1) The East Village Convadium plan would ruin East Village and Bario Logan. The notion of building any stadium using any tax (on locals or tourists) is ridiculous. Any stadium is a white elephant project that hurts taxpayers in the long run. What about operation costs? What about the cost of eventual demolition when it is deemed unsuitable 20 years from now because it doesn't have zero gravity unicorn rides or whatever shiny object the NFL obsesses over? The best thing we can do is not build one anywhere. The NFL has vastly more money than San Diego does. They can buy land where they want and build whatever albatross they desire.
2) Citizens Plan signature gatherers use the Chargers and Comic-Con as a hook to get signatures. CP doesn't actually save the Chargers or Comic-Con and Comic-Con has come out and stated their preference for a convention center expansion that opposes Citizens Plan. Citizens Plan is really just a tax increase that directs monies to the general fund where it can be mishandled and mismanaged just like the other tax revenues they receive. At least with the TMD that money had to be used to market San Diego for additional tourism. Can't be spent on pensions, debt, salaries, etc.
Talking about Chargers and Comic-Con with Citizens Plan is just a red herring. Take those two misdirections away and it's just a general purpose tax increase and specialized springboard to allow a certain attorney in San Diego to wage even more litigation against things he doesn't agree with by giving himself standing to sue on the city's behalf even if the city attorney chooses not to pursue litigation.
The only hope Citizens Plan has at the ballot box is duping local sports and comic/pop-culture fans into believing that it saves the Chargers and Comic-Con. It's BS.
Also, it is funny how the East Village People opposing Convadium haven't been branded NIMBYs by the usual suspects.
For the record: The Citizens' Plan does not "divert" any TOT, and I did not say it does. The CP does provide economic incentives to hoteliers if the industry volunteers to take over marketing responsibilities and/or off-waterfront expansion responsibilities. That is no more of a "diversion" of taxes than is a rebate taken on your tax returns when you buy a hybrid car etc.
@Cory Briggs Let me see if I understand what you mean by examining your analogy. Now if I get an income tax rebate on my new hybrid car, then the total income tax collected will be missing the amount of that rebate and obviously cannot be spent on anything else because it's already been spent on an incentive for me to buy a car. That means that tax revenue that could have been used to pay for a Government's core responsibilities , assuming that helping me buy a new car is not one of them, is being diverted back to me; thus leaving a revenue short fall that must be made up by increasing the tax burden on those not entitled to such an economic incentive ?
Interesting comments by Barrio Logan residents and East Village developers fears that a convadium would wall off downtown from Barrio Logan. If people are concerned about walling off downtown, I wish they had spoken up when the city allowed CCDC/CSD and Nate Bosa to wall off downtown from its bayfront with huge highrise condo towers. Between Bosa's towers and new hotels going up on Port Tidelands, its becoming more and more difficult to see the bay from buildings inland of Pacific Highway. The irony of it is that people who are paying Bosa $1 million and up for condo tower units, thinking they are buying bayfront views, may in fact be buying a future view of the back of new buildings being planned west of their buildings. None of the downtown developers who are marketing bay views will guarantee that those views will last.
Former mayor and Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders just came out in favor of the downtown convadium concept.
Where's Todd Gloria in this discussion ? He is the 3rd district councilperson who is responsible for representing the East Village, and yet he can't be found in this article, or in his office, or anywhere else when leadership is needed.
Here's an idea. Why don't we take what ever extra money we have and do something about the arrears on our infrastructure, or is that naïve ?
@Richard Gardiol Your idea isn't naive but it's not likely to happen. Politicians think they get elected building new stuff, not keeping existing stuff running well.
San Diego tax payers are NOT going to subsidize a stadium downtown. How much money and time are going to be wasted until the owners and developers realize this is a dead horse?
Here is a dirty little secret most people are not aware of. While the city and the Convention Center Corporation have complained about not having enough space to stage larger conventions in the existing bayfront facility, the Port has approved construction of new hotels (eg the Bayfront Hilton) and redevelopment of nearby hotels like the Marriott to add tons of new meeting and exhibit space which could easily be used to virtually expand the space available for decentralized events. Yet when the Port approved those new projects, it did no include any lease language requiring those hotels to coordinate planning and reservations with the Convention Center Corporation, so that instead of complimenting the existing facility, those hotels are now competing with the convention center to host new meetings and events. That trend was accelerated when the hotels convinced the city to turn convention center scheduling and reservations over to the hotel owner controlled Tourism Marketing District. That entity is rumored to be diverting upcoming major meetings and events away from the convention center to the waterfront hotels. This begs the question of whether or not a major new convention center expansion is needed. What might work better would be for the city, the Convention Center and the Port to require closer coordination and cooperation between the hotels around the convention center and the CCC. Perhaps it is time for the city to return the ;job of scheduling and reservations for upcoming conventions back to the CCC, instead of allowing the TMD to control them.
@Don Wood This comment I agree with. Unfortunately, this attempt by John Moores and Spanos to hi-jack the convention center expansion to build a "Convadium" next Moore's property and to build Spanos a downtown stadium has distracted attention from the more important question of whether expansion is even needed.
@Don Wood The hotels' new meeting and exhibit space isn't large enough to host upcoming major events like Comic-Con that are only interested in large contiguous event space. Maybe we don't need a convention center expansion but voters better understand that Brigg's so called CI wont save Comic-Con and it wont attract new major conventions. Conventions don't want to force their customers to walk a mile between split event sites when there are better contiguous options available like Anaheim or Vegas.
Both the downtown stadium and the convention center expansion are bad for San Diego. These projects only create short term construction jobs. After that, the vast majority of associated jobs are low wage - stadium, restaurant and hotel workers. These workers probably receive several types of government hand-outs because their wages are so low. Many of these workers will have kids in public schools, which is very expensive for taxpayers. And the hotel and restaurant industries will complain the loudest when you want to increase their wages to a reasonable level.
The book "Convention Center Follies: Politics, Power, and Public Investment in American Cities" documents how almost all convention centers end up losing money for the local governments and their taxpayers. Only a few connected people make money, as you might expect.
The book is available on Amazon.
A baseball park and a football stadium are very different animals. Petco Park has been fantastic - 81 games a year and low key family oriented fans. Football, on the other hand, is not well suited for downtown - 8 to 10 games a year and very aggressive and confrontational fans. You want a Raiders vs. Chargers game every year? Dodgers fans are bad enough.
East village has become a very nice place. The only thing I see holding it back at this point is Father Joe's Village, which seems to have made it very difficult to expand the neighborhood beyond 15th st.
The city should revisit the perceived need for a convention centr expansion. Spending millions of dollars in order to provide added space that is used only a handful of days a year is ludicrous. No business builds a facility that is only full during rare peak use (i.e. ComicCon). Furthermore, in city planning you should not compare a bad proposal to what the status quo is and then declare the bad proposal superior. Cities take many years to develop or mutate. The patience and planning New York City showed towards its dilapidated lower Manhattan industrial districts reulted later in the thriving SOHO and Tribeca neighborhoods.
It is not surprising that East Village developers are opposing the idea of convadium on their turf. The Idea District proponents talk a good game about "perhaps" bringing a downtown UCSD annex to the neighborhood, or creating a new neighborhood where artists and computer nerds could live in lofts and create lots of neat new art and technology. But if you want to see what the reality is, just drive east along G Street to Highway 94. What you'll see are block after block of new apartment complexes, each one taking up a whole block which used to be filled with diverse single family homes. old artist loft buildings and small shops, which were known as Centre City East, which have all been bulldozed to make room for new "blockbuster" apartment complexes and condo towers.
While I have been hopefully following all the IDEA district hype, all I've seen on their renderings are more whole-block apartments and condo units, some with commercial and retail operations on the ground floor, not to mention the two 50 story high Pinnacle apartment towers going up between East Village and Barrio Logan. Where were the East Village People when those monstrosities were being approve? Left to their own devices, the existing developers will fill in the area where transit bus yard is now with more of the same.
So after several years of real estate promotional promises, I'm not sure that if that particular property is used for a convadium, it would be all that bad for downtown. I suspect that we're more likely to see new university annexes for UCSD or SDSU on the Qualcomm site before we'll see them downtown. But if there are any real plans for that to happen downtown, it would useful for UCSD or SDSU to announce them, instead of downtown real estate developers puff piece advertising.
LOL on the comment that the proposed contiguous convention expansion would be just a "small
bulge". It would cover the area west of the existing convention center all the way to the water, with just a narrow sidewalk along its side for the public to enjoy it's publically owned tidelands.
@Don Wood I agree that this last wave of development in East Village was not well planned. However, small adjustments would bring in back in line with the early development, which I think was done well.
Small changes like set back corners and natural stone at street level would help a lot. And preserving some of the best homes and historic structures should be a higher priority. These rules can be brought back into play.
I disagree with your assessment of The Pinnacle, though. While tall, it is very thin so it does not cast a huge shadow. Pinnacle park, which was provided as part of the height trade-off, is a great asset for that area.
Pinnacle is a horrible monstrosity whose looming shadow over surrounding communities will only get darker once the second tower goes up.
@Desde la Logan I can understand why some might not like the Pinnacle, but you really get more light and breeze next to the Pinnacle than you do between two six story mid-rises that run right up to the edge of the sidewalk and which take up an entire city block.
Would you have preferred another full block mid-rise in place of the Pinnacle and the park? I like the park.
Also, Pinnacle shadow goes away from Barrio Logan, if that helps at all.
I really wonder if they will build the second tower. Does not seem like it is renting very well. Must be a hard sell with all the homeless nearby.
Shadow was a metaphor.
They're already working the lot where the second tower is going up. They socio-economically cleansed that block, put up new fencing and started moving around dirt.
I don't think two out of place towers is a good trade off for a small park.
Could of things.
A) It is anything but a done deal whether the convadium gets hotelier sign off. The CI is mute (and we won't know till who knows) who will actually own and operate the Convadium. An arrangement in which the hotels could be on the hook for the operating deficit is likely to be a non-starter. We know that few (none?) convadiums operate in the black. So before we think that the CI will move the ball forward (and not just be a 5 cent TOT increase for the general fund) we need much more clarity as to the specifics. Hopefully by the end of the month....
B) The status quo might not be good for Cory's friends but it isn't a bad trajectory for either East Village or Barrio Logan. There is development interest. Resources are coming in. BL is benefiting without rapid gentrifcation. That all comes to a halt with the convadium because we know (see Denver, Seattle, Philly) that most of the time these edifices don't work to spur on adjacent development. This is not Petco (and as Erie and Kogan have long argued, it isn't even clear that Petco was that much of a catalyst).
Barrio Logan's gentrification is already in full effect with the displacement of residents and small businesses by the small time land pirates that have been gobbling up properties like booty. A Convadium a block away will only make things worse.
If Briggs had been at all involved in the urban communities he views as "status quo" and a dumping ground for mega-projects, he would know the answer to his own question - housing, affordable housing, arts, light industry, and academic institutions - it's in the Community Plan and its happening. He'd also know that the contiguous Convention Center expansion is the first expansion NOT to "wall-off" the waterfront - its a "bulge" toward the waterfront side-by-side with the existing convention center, not end-to-end, like previous expansions. If he wants to protect the waterfront, as he claims, then he should fight the hotel parking garages being approved there. Questions to Briggs:
1) Why as a CEQA-rights attorney would you propose a convadium that curtails the CEQA rights of the impacted residents?
2) Why didn't you consult the impacted community groups before you proposed plopping this monstrosity on their front doors?
3) Why would you focus more low wage jobs via a convadium and hotels on the economically distressed urban neighborhoods and redirect academic expansion / innovation businesses to the already privileged north of 8 suburbs?
4) Why propose a TOT tax increase you are suing to undo? - to prove a procedural point?
5) Why are you doing John Moore's bidding to hijack the convention expansion / stadium to relocate it next to his property?
@wadams92101 Love your expose of the fallacious "walling off the waterfront" pitch. How much of our waterfront is going to be affected? A few percentage points at most. There's plenty of waterfront still available for viewing, strolling, boarding boats, picnicking, etc. How many people flock to the area right next to the convention center to take advantage of the harbor view or get some exercise now?
Damn few is the answer. I'm not dying for a convention center expansion, because more space probably means greater losses for the convention center, but this argument is nonsense.
@Bill Bradshaw @wadams92101 The "walling off the waterfront" pitch is bs. People who want to see the waterfront behind the convention center walk or drive to the Embarcadero Marina Park or at least walk to the bayside boardwalk which wont change. The contiguous expansion improves waterfront access with the public rooftop park.