Mayor Kevin Faulconer, County Supervisor Ron Roberts and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith seemed pretty jazzed about their talks with the Chargers today.
“I think we’re very very close now to a consensus,” Roberts said.
The Chargers wasted little time in making that statement look completely foolish.
The football franchise released a statement that the vision of holding a vote on the stadium in December was misguided. The officials’ insistence this could all be done was just not true, the team concluded.
Based on all of this work and discussion, the Chargers have concluded that it is not possible to place a ballot measure before voters in December 2015 in a legally defensible manner given the requirements of the State’s election law and the California Environmental Quality Act. The various options that we have explored with the City’s experts all lead to the same result: Significant time-consuming litigation founded on multiple legal challenges, followed by a high risk of eventual defeat in the courts.
Faulconer, Roberts, Goldsmith and their hired negotiators are trying to put together an impossible puzzle — specifically, there are three pieces that just don’t fit:
• They want to fulfill the mayor’s promise to let city of San Diego voters have the final say on a stadium plan.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
This thing just drags on. The Spanos family has to be the all-time champion world class dupes. Every month they give Music Man Fabiani another fat check - and nothing happens. Five years from now the Chargers will still be playing in Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego Charger fans will still be tailgating in Mission Valley, and Fabiani will still be cashing the big fat checks.
When you say a vote doesn't matter, I question that. It might not legally matter, but politically it matters a great deal. Votes have had extremely major impacts on our city's decisions that last decades. Look at the vote on moving the airport to Miramar. I'm not an expert on the airport vote, but wasn't that non-legally binding and more just to "test the waters"? Well it seemed to scare the city enough to the point they are now idiotically spending over a billion dollars sprucing up a poorly located airport that cannot expand runway space that the FAA projects will max out in future decades. To this day that vote still scares public officials from even mentioning moving the airport to its most practical location. Even the media won't mention moving the airport since that vote. You've seen the scramble at city hall trying to find a last minute solution to building a stadium - just wait until you see a city scrambling at the last-minute to build an airport 20 years from now. Bottom line - a no vote on a stadium, and I think it would be a resounding no if voted on, will not just prevent a Chargers stadium now, it will prevent football from existing in San Diego for the next decade and beyond. We will be known as the "city who said no" to the NFL and likely to other major sports teams for many years to come. And, our typically weak city leadership will be afraid to say "new stadium" until about 2030 just like they have been afraid to say "Miramar airport" for a decade and counting!
Enough already of all of this noise. It's time to embrace the better and favorable San Diego future - a future post Chargers. The best opportunities open up the moment we politely escort this parasite organization up the freeway to Los Angeles.
Since the Mission valley property will need to be developed under any scenario. I think the best course would be for the City to do a full EIR with three options: Chargers stadium; SDSU expansion and mixed housing retail; and a straight commercial/mixed housing development. Many aspects of this plan such as the river park and housing would be common to all three scenarios. By moving the vote to the regular January 2016 election significant cost savings would result which could be applied to the cost of the EIR. Since the Chargers have chosen not to participate in negotiations. I recommend the city use the stadium advisory committees numbers as the basis for voter approval. Under this scenario we could have a voter approved stadium plan with EIR by January. More importantly we would show the NFL that there is a solid commitment for a stadium. After the election depending on the circumstances, We would either have approved the stadium, shot down the stadium or been dumped by the chargers and the NFL. If the Charger move is delayed or denied and they are forced to deal with the city then We have a "shovel ready" plan. I think this would also make it difficult for the Chargers to stonewall or ask for more money which would require another vote. This vote could also be placed on the June ballot at no cost. The Chargers, seeing the progress, may actually show some of their cards. Either way we will have presented a viable plan with several options for the property should the Chargers leave. Or, will be in a strong negotiating position should they desire to stay.
@Bob Mcdonald A complete EIR would take 12-18 months and there is no January 2016 election.
@Bob Mcdonald Actually it does not work this way. The pro forma (aka professional way) is this.
The owner selects a site (let's assume downtown based on what most believe the owner really wants) and does a feasibility analysis which is an extensive analysis of all possible constraints (including environmental, financing and other). Only when a feasibility analysis (a document of about 300-500 pages) indicates the project is feasible then the city could respond with discussing and agreeing on financing options (who pays what).
Absent a full blown feasibility study the city is only obligated to offer a plan of renovation for the existing structure before the owner is allowed to embark in relocation options (in other words there are existing lease provisions which the owner has to abide by otherwise he breaches the existing lease).
BTW, the city is not at all obligated to pay for an EIR (an owner's expense) under any circumstances.
@David Benz @Bob Mcdonald correction I erroneously read somewhere that there was. There seem to be different opinions of the duration an EIR depending on what side of the issue you are on. So I will leave it at that. Most of the issues would be stormwater runoff and The residential building code there are already standard bmp solutions for those. Traffic and lighting studies are are ready completed. So there would be very few new studies required.
Obligated, professional or not the City is proceeding with an EIR. I merely think it should include other options for the site. Maximum densities and other development mitigations can be conservatively stated without detailed plans to satisfy the EIR requirements. The city is the owner of the property and if they will be looking for a development partner when/if the Chargers leave a completed EIR and affiliated zoning changes will make the property more desirable. The Nfl can change the rules whenever they want so the feasibility study issues mentioned are moot. Of course continuing to plan for a Chargers stadium after a final NFL decision to relocate would be useless. If they defer the relocation issue for a year the city would be in a much better bargaining position over just sitting on their hands.or crying to the NFL. If the voters approve the city plan then the Chargers will be the bad guy if they balk at the deal. As it stands now they don't need to diss the financial aspects of the deal only the lack of entitlements which conveniently puts it all on the city. I personally do not give a hoot about the Chargers. But if the voters want to have an NFL team. I think this would be the best course.
Why would we need a vote on a plan that doesn't include a stadium? Our city is paralyzed by California and San Diego's broken ballot process. They can't pass a minimum wage or approve a reasonable development project without some special interest basically buying a petition drive and stalling our city from being able to do anything on their own. I think a stadium is a unique type of development that should require a vote because it's non-essential infrastructure, but if that site was to be re-developed with just housing and park space minus a stadium, I'm not sure I would agree with it needing a vote. Of course I'm sure some special interest group with deep pockets would force it to go to a vote no matter what.
@ZachWWhile not necessary, a vote would insulate the EIR from litigation. It also eliminates the time delay excuses The area will be developed one way or another. My point is why not put all the options on the table. I think they have at least as good a change to be approved as the stadium. Although not required for the other proposed uses the vote would eliminate all the back room dealing and maybe the city and the taxpayers would not get fleeced for once. The main point is idf an approved plan was in place The city might be able to attract another NFL team. This would also make the Chargers very nervous. As horrific as it sounds The Raiders would probably do well in SD. Hell, they could even sue to keep the Chargers name. Wouldn't that be something the raiders/chargers in SD and the Ex chargers and Rams in Inglewood. SD might as well start throwing threats aroiund like the NFL.
Along with thousands of others, I want the Chargers to take this tiresome hustle away from San Diego as soon as possible. Take the greedy billionaire owners, the Smarmy Official Spokesman, the repeatedly convicted, drug addled, National Felon League players, the team doc, and the demand for the public treasury anywhere but here. Junior Seau gave his life to show us that football as we know it should be abolished. I will settle for it gone. Prove you're tough Chargers. Go to, say, Ramadi. And, if you begin to stay here, with the vote on a stadium, be aware that we will sue, delay, fund raise by crowd sourcing nation-wide, sue again, delay--until you take your NFL bait and switch hustle away from this lovely city.
@richard gibson Keep in mind it's not the team but the owner who wants to exercise pressure on the city. The problem with this owner is that he is not the brightest bulb in the room. That's why he hires all sorts of other people to cover for his deficiencies. However, no matter how good the people he hires, if he still designs and executes the strategy himself (because he is a control freak) he can't win. He is neither intelligent nor competent enough to come up with a winning blue print of action.
The owner likes to create buzz about himself because it makes him feel important whereas to most of us he becomes really tiresome.
What the city ought to do is stop stooping to his level because then the city comes off as not very bright either. You can't keep playing the game of a stupid man for long without acquiring the exact same label.
Like all major infrastructure and tax initiatives in recent years, the stadium story is about who controls San Diego: the people through their vote, or the real estate and tourism industries through their clout. While your columns are informative and entertaining, they touch on this division like a blind man feeling his way around an elephant, except you’re no blind man.
No doubt it’s fun writing and reading about what might be happening behind closed doors among people we’ve learned from experience, and your reporting, not to trust. But this is not the central story. Nor is it, more importantly, your point of view on the central story, which you alone among local journalists are qualified to write.
VoSD has done an outstanding job these past several months refuting pretty much every claim made by stadium proponents about the costs and benefits of a new publicly financed stadium. It has even scaled the emotionally laden mountain that housing the Chargers boosts civic pride.
Yet, it hasn’t challenged the framing of the debate itself, and in doing so aided in the creation of a movement against public financing. And though I realize you will interpret this as outside your work as a journalist, I’m asking you to start arguing against public funding instead of only refuting its parts. The difference is one of action instead of reaction. It’s about being an advocate instead of a spoiler.
Consider my request within your role as an opinion writer, the symbolic nature of public funding for private enterprise in terms of what conservative San Diego claims to stand for, what the city wants to be when it grows up, and the realm of VoSD’s mission.
Also consider, I’m asking you to more accurately reflect the supposed position of a majority of your readers, which means I’m asking you to expand the debate and in doing so to make more democracy.
It’s not that you haven’t touched on the issues. It’s that you haven’t organized your insights into an argument about public funding that addresses the most fundamental division. The stadium story is not about the Chargers versus City Hall. It’s about the handlers of City Hall versus the citizens of San Diego.
Every storyline outside this frame is a distraction intended by the handlers (the UT, the Lincoln Club, the Chamber of Commerce, the Strategic Roundtable, etc.) to manipulate the people for their own profit, as they’ve always done and intend to do.
It’s time we stop reading only about the heroic or idiotic efforts of our political and civic leaders to keep the Chargers, or counting on the Mayor’s (potentially empty) promise of a public vote. And time we start reading about what the majority of San Diegans claim to believe: that public funding is wrong.
Perhaps the best place to start is establishing the truth of what it the majority of San Diegans believe and if it’s no public funding, asking the Mayor why he’s negotiating for something the majority of voters don’t want. Is there no media outlet or public policy institute fielding and reporting the results of a weekly poll?
@Arizona Bread I agree with you, sir. It's not unreasonable to believe that the Chargers also know that public funding couldn't pass in SD. NFL teams in locales that won't provide upfront money for new, modern stadiums do have choices: they can stay under current conditions or they can sell off part of the team to a new partner with the money (and ego) to make their dreams come true. That may become more amenable to Spanos once the charade in SD is concluded.
@Arizona Bread I also wish this issue could be framed honestly. It won't. Public funds for infrastructure needs, park and recreation needs and lower tax rates versus a stadium is the substantive issue behind setting appropriate priorities for taxpayers. Citizens won't hear that issue raised.
Alas, behind-the-scenes crony capitalism is the driving force - special economic benefits to help a few billionaires and their vendors and campaign help for the politicians who support them.
I can say this a million times but there are some people who are just too dense or to understand it. This why I decided that teaching was not for me when I was a teaching graduate assistant in Economics. Spanos & sons have no intention of moving to LA and spending their own money. They are just playing up to the NFL owners for the right to do so by blaming San Diego on not giving them a new $billion plus stadium. They are in essence in hopes of doing a deal that would greatly increase the value of the franchise in hopes of selling it with the help of the Wall Street bankers. Right now they have a very sweet deal in that they not only pay no rent for Qualcomm they actually take home a big cash subsidy of millions of dollars every year. However they are just about as greedy as one can imagine. They only care about how to increase the value of the franchise by getting approval to move up to LA by hook or crook. Stan Kroenke beat them to the punch on that one and they are reeling. All of this is nothing but a play to get the NFL's tentative approval to move out of San Diego into the big money LA sports market. The recent sale of teams like the Clippers and the Dodgers have the Spanos family of seeing nothing but dollar signs in their eyes. Spanos has never been devoted to San Diego and has never done anything but complain about this city.
So if the the NFL shuts down their requested move to LA ... what will happen? They will scream for an even bigger subsidy from the city and use everything in their political power to get whatever it is they in terms of being paid millions more by the city taxpayers to play football here. Most likely they will get another $10 to $20 million a year in subsidies and some major improvements so that they can pull in even more money. But I guarantee you they aren't leaving. They are most likely trying to sell the team right now. But it will greatly enhance their price if they have that NFL ticket to move north to LA.
What you are seeing right now is them throwing a tantrum with the likes of Faulconer and his idiot amigos Roberts and Goldsmith running around mouthing off like the idiots they are. They like way to many San Diegans are just too stupid to see the Spanos family for what they are.
@Phillip Franklin I sure hope you're right about the Chargers' intentions. It's hard to imagine weaker ownership. As for your comments about the mayor et al, I heard most of a press conference the three held today, and they seem to be taking a much harder line with the team. About time.
@Phillip Franklin It's not a question of intention but rather of ability. This local NFL owner CAN NOT relocate to LA because a. financing a $2 Bil. 100% private stadium in LA is mission impossible(there would be no revenue streams left for the team) and b. Carson is one of the worst sites in LA to do any development, let alone a non-feasible stadium.
Therefore the team will stay here (whether it likes it or not) and it's about time for the city to lay down harsh terms of surrender instead of these absurd proposals for 50% public financing. Public financing for a SD stadium needs not to be more than 0%. Which means that the owner can do a renovation with NFL/own money and shut up. End of story.
@Dean Plassaras @Phillip Franklin --For once I agree with Fabiani. The Chargers are a tenant--nothing more. They are not going to use their money to do something the city didn't do. The city has just let the Q go--it really is a dump. What still amazes me though, is the cost to replace the stadium is at least $1 billion.
I see a logic gap here.
Building a new stadium in Mission Valley would require a CEQA study. That's a given. A CEQA study could take a year or longer. I can buy that. But what exactly is the problem with holding a vote before we can complete the study? If it's just the fact that Chargers can't be certain that they'll have their shiny new stadium until they have a finished environmental study, because there's a risk that the study will say "it's not possible to build a stadium in Mission Valley" - that's not convincing to me as a reason to throw the vote altogether. Even if that risk is non-negligible, why not start the study now, hold the vote in December, and try to get the study done before the early-'16 NFL move deadline?
Or is there a legal reason why we can't have a vote without a complete study? If there is one, the article does not elucidate it.
@Eugene K. I agree. Excellent question. There is a stadium there now. Therefore I see no reason to believe that a study would prevent another one from being built. I think that the chargers are grasping for straws here. The negativism by the chargers owner tells me that they have no interest in staying in San Diego. At this point they want to move on and it seems like these talks are a waste of time. We'll see what happens.
@Eugene K. It is also possible that the Chargers don't want a public vote knowing how angry many people are about the ticket guarantee and other lousy deals made by the city. They probably want to avoid that so that they can bamboozle the mayor and the council into another horrible deal for taxpayers. That being said do we really want a team owned by someone who wants to take taxpayers for another ride? If the man had some integrity that is another matter, but there seems to be a lot of bad blood in this city between taxpayers, taxpayer groups, and the Chargers.
@Geoff Page If we are considering spending somewhere close to $2 billion on a new NFL stadium, the cost of the CEQA study is peanuts by comparison (somewhere on the order of $100k to $1M.)
@shawn fox The idea that Chargers simply don't want to stay is the most reasonable. But this article tries to make the case that their current objections have merit, and we need to understand if that's really the case.
It seems that we would need a completed EIR before the vote if the ballot asked voters explicitly to approve a fully defined stadium project (with all the specifics, from location to the number of seats, nailed down in advance.) Which would suggest to me that (a) someone in city administration seriously dropped the ball on this, because the work on EIR for a new stadium in Mission Valley (and, in parallel, for a new stadium downtown) should have been started back in 2014. Or (b) that Chargers were playing dishonestly from the beginning, because they were planning a potential move in this timeframe and made no effort to get the ball rolling on EIRs a year ago.
I'm not sure if it's possible to do some sort of middle-ground ballot, getting voter approval for an underspecified stadium project, voter approval that is conditional on CEQA study outcome, etc.
@Eugene K. I see a logic gap in your thinking. Why spend the money on the CEQA study before the vote? If the stadium is voted down, we will have wasted that money.
@Geoff Page Suppose we could have started the EIR on Qualcomm v2 in the summer of 2014 and it was done by now, at the cost of $1 million. And suppose (for the sake of the argument) that having a complete EIR is all the difference it takes between Chargers ditching the city and moving to the toxic waste dump in Carson (or maybe to Inglewood, within walking distance from the epicenter of '92 LA riots), or staying here. And we already know that we're willing to commit hundreds of millions of taxpayer money to make sure Chargers stay in town.
Wouldn't that $1m have been money well spent?
@Eugene K. @Geoff Page The money would not be well spent until there is a public vote and the vote is yes for a stadium. I can't imagine a scenario where an EIR would be what tipped the Chargers into a moving decision. It's not at all that simple. There is no need to spend any money on an EIR before having a public vote, which willl very probably not support spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer money to build a stadium. It's not the EIR that would influence the Chargers, they do not want a public vote because they know they would lose. The EIR talk is all a smoke screen.
I'll be thrilled when the Chargers leave San Diego but I also understand that it would be crazy to put your business' future success in the hands of the 3 Stooges (Foulconer, Roberts, Goldsmith)
@Geoff Page It is critical for the project to meet the CEQA requirements or get the exemption before the stadium vote or the vote is meaningless. People have to know exactly what they are voting on and the terms need to be rock solid to hold up to any lawsuits.
@David Benz @Geoff Page I would have to respectfully disagree with that David. I, personally, do not want one dime of public money spent on a stadium for a billionaire and for millionaires to play in. The only reason for a public vote at all is simply that, if no public money is needed, no vote is needed. All the ballot needs to ask the taxpayers is, do you want this amount of public money spent on this thing. And, "this amount of public money" will be a big figure. I believe that would be a loser so we don't need to spend money on the study. We don't need to be paying consultants and experts as we are now. And we certainly don't need our Mayor wasting his time giving a financial proposal to the NFL as it appears he plans to do. Let's have an up or down vote and be done with it.
@Eugene K. You are missing a few things in your analysis. A lot of the Charger's "reasoning" is based on the timeline in Carson and the timeline for the NFL to give their approval to a team or teams to move to LA. Your timeline may make sense if SD was the only option, but the Chargers are doing a balancing act here - they don't want to mess things up in LA by stringing along the SD plans for too long. Keep in mind a vote can't just happen. In order for a vote to be successful the Chargers would have to put money and PR behind it. Using players, commercials, community outreach, etc to convince SD voters they want to stay. They can't really do that in these next few months while they are also trying to solidify the Carson deal. A vote in SD in December could derail their dealings in Carson and they don't want that. How would these next 5 months look if they were up in Carson finalizing plans then at the same time down in SD trying to publicly rally the city to vote to let them stay? It would show both Carson and the NFL they aren't serious about LA, but they are serious about LA. A bigger market and what might be a quicker, more reliable deal for them there.
It sure looks like the Chargers, after 14 years of trying to convince the city to get serious about building a new local stadium, have
made up their minds to transfer the team to the LA area. I wonder if Kevin Falcouner will pin the blame for failing to hold onto the Chargers to the person who really deserves it, Jerry Sanders?
@Don Wood --Or you could blame mayors Murphy, Golding or Filner. Or Mike Aguirre. Or the Padres, who had enough sense to sign all add revenue over to the Chargers, and then pleaded poverty and demanded a new ballpark (in the same general area where the Chargers claim they-or someone-could build them a new stadium).
It takse a voter initative. What happen to the San Diego Sport Council. Get 30 person on that council to pay $10,000 each. Go pay the signature gather.
Do the paperwork for 30-45 days. You could get the 100,000 signatures in the following month. Validate signatures in another months. City Council puts it on a ballot after signatures. Then Charger know before the vote by doing public surveys if the ballot will pass. Then the vote in December or January.
Because if the signature ballot passes. This would avoid a court case on the environmental.
But it takes money. Forget the Chargers paying for it. Maybe setup a funding project for the little guy to donate. It would be interesting to see how fast the money would appear if there was a public outcry for the money.
@mike johnson But what do you put on the ballot? There are no negotiations apparently, that are discussing how to pay for the stadium. The Chargers have rejected the CSAG plan so as far as negotiating a deal, putting aside the CEQA concerns, the parties are at square one.
So the Chargers ownership doesn't love us for who we are? They only want to get the most money they can out of the team? Shocking. Now we know how Eric Weddle feels.
Order up the movers! Either remodel Qualcomm for the Aztecs or build a new stadium for the college game. There will be no need for gold-plated "amenities." Add a village of much needed housing units for SDSU as well as classrooms and labs.
I will trade in our 50-yard seats (had them in the family 40 years) for a seat on the couch.
@RONALD SLAYEN I'm with you on this one. Let the Chargers go. Put together a real, workable, honest plan, and build a new stadium for SDSU, soccer, and the other bowl games.
And the region at large will benefit much more from an enlarged SDSU campus than from having a bunch of overpaid NFL players knock each other senseless on Sundays.
Well of course the vote will be challenged in court! Does anybody think that the public will allow a gang-rape of the general fund without protesting it in any way we can?
This whole thing is pathetic. Were I Mayor, the Chargers would get the right to tear down Qualcomm stadium and build a new one on that site. With their money. But -- taxpayer funding for... a football team? Are you kidding?
Ron Roberts reminds me of the guy back in the days of the Iraq war who was the spokesman for on-the-run Iraqi government. I recall him standing on a rooftop with the U.S. military in the distant background claiming that all was well with Saddam Hussein and the government and that the U. S. troops would soon be defeated despite the obvious scene of troops moving into Baghdad.
Here we have Roberts, always smiling, saying everything is all right with the December vote despite the fact that the city/county plan for a vote was going to be a nonstarter in the first place. This guy, when it comes to the stadium issue, is always preening in front of cameras saying a stadium can be and will be built. He's been doing this since the days of Mayor Sanders when they both proudly stood in front of the cameras in front of the County Administration building saying the city and county are working together to find a solution to the stadium issue. And he's always wrong. Always.
Note to Roberts, (and might as well throw in Faulconer and Goldsmith too), if you are looking for a plan that is "legally defensible", then at the very least, you are admitting that a challenge in some form is in the offing. CEQA and EIR's are difficult issues to deal with. They take time. To think that everything would be hunky dory in such a short time was just plain silly. Stop it already.
@msginsd Actually, it could be a win-win for Faulconer. If the team stays, he'll be seen as a "leader" because he can get things done, and if the team goes, he also can be considered a "leader" because one, he can say he did everything he could to keep the team by appointing a well-regarded task force and a plan to hold a "timely" election. Second, he can also say he stood up to the rich and powerful Spanos family and the big bad NFL who were making unreasonable demands against the city treasury. Fabiani may be right on this one in that he was afraid that the mayor would seek political cover. It looks like he has.
@Robert Cohen @msginsd The dynamics are fascinating, but I think the only way the team stays is with some very sketchy operating on the part of the city/county, and that is a very risky bet for his credibility. And frankly, Faulconer is looking more and more like he's following the lead of the two other Stooges when just about everything being done comes across as half-assed. His task force came up with a lame duck, and had questionable participants with political overtones. His "timely" election is so full of holes as to be worthless.
As you suggest, they really just ought to stop the silliness.
@Robert Cohen Roberts was known as a dim bulb as a city councilperson and bulbs don't get better with time. Goldsmith, well, one only has to look at his office's track record to dismiss any advice he's offering. Faulconer has a lose-lose-lose on his hands. If the Chargers leave, he'll be blamed. If he gives away the store to keep them, his credibility as a fiscally-smart conservative is ruined. And if he tries to run an end-around on CEQA, he'll be mired in muck for years and never be elected to anything ever again. Which might be the best thing for him.
People may not like Spanos or Fabiani, but they are trying to run a business and their goal is to make money. They're obviously smarter than the Stooges. The nonsense they're hearing does not make for a good business plan. Not that any of this should surprise the rest of us. Our local government has been a Groundhog Day version of a train wreck for decades.
@msginsd But the 3 Stooges only have to fool the people that voted for them and so far public opinion is leaning in their favor.