Re-examining San Diego's Big Civic Priorities - Voice of San Diego

Chargers Stadium

Re-examining San Diego's Big Civic Priorities

There are plenty of other nagging issues city leaders should consider before building a new Chargers stadium.

Say you snagged an invitation to the lunch held Monday by the U-T’s CEO John Lynch and publisher Doug Manchester.

What would you tell them are the most crucial priorities to “move San Diego forward in support of Kevin Faulconer as mayor”?

Voice of San Diego’s Scott Lewis posed the question in last week’s Member Report, a regular note sent out to our members. Lewis pointed out the emphasis on a new stadium in Lynch and Manchester’s call to action.

This has been an ongoing point of controversy for San Diegans. Even the most loyal Chargers fan has to wonder where the city could scrounge up funds for the massive undertaking. Should this really be the biggest concern among the city’s public affairs?

Our members replied with thoughts on the merits of a fresh facility, as well as some suggestions for where city leaders should be directing their attention (and dollars) instead.

Below are some highlighted excerpts, posted with the contributors’ permission and edited slightly for clarity. Got your own to add, or maybe a note on what VOSD should prioritize in our coverage? Head to the Plaza. Better yet – become a member and join the folks quoted here in our inner circle.

 

I truly don’t get this obsession with a new stadium. (Former Mayor) Dick Murphy had the best idea for a new Chargers stadium, but no one ever talked about it. The site in Mission Valley is perfect for football games and tailgating. Downtown is not suited for that. If Qualcomm Stadium is completely outdated, build a new stadium on that site and tear down the old one.

Truly great cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco are great because of their unique character and their great neighborhoods.  They design their cities for the people who live there.  As a result, people love to visit.  It sounds like Doug Manchester and others want to make San Diego into a Disneyland-type place.  Tell me, who would go to visit Anaheim if Disneyland wasn’t there?

– Carol Beam, Golden Hill

 

Not a dime of public money for the Chargers; the NFL is richer than San Diego. They are unlikely to move to L.A. because then the NFL would lose the threat of moving other franchises there unless their cities build them stadiums.

— Louis Cohen, downtown

 

I believe (the priority) must be to fix the many infrastructure problems (sidewalks, roads, burying cable and electric lines), have libraries that are open more hours, keep pollution out of our waterways, work toward solving the many problems of returning veterans and the homeless – I do not see where a new stadium will help with any of these issues.

I also do not believe a new convention center or expansion will help many citizens of SD. After living in Orlando, Fla., for eight years and seeing growth from tourism – it created many more minimum wage jobs, not a living wage. Take a drive down International Drive in Orlando – too many cheap t-shirt and shell shops to count!

I would rather see SD expand in technology, medical research, alternative energy solutions and advanced education to create jobs that provide a livable wage and future for our economy, and help solve problems.

– Faye Duggan, University City

 

Before moving to San Diego, I lived in Manhattan just a few blocks from the west side rail yards, where a succession of NYC mayors wanted to build stadiums. … I have seen 20-plus years of debate over downtown stadiums and their use as part of a convention complex, and have also seen 20-plus years of a variety of reports by economists determining that downtown stadiums typically are a bad financial deal for taxpayers, impede rather than stimulate development in their neighborhoods and do not work well for conventions, especially when not contiguous to the rest of the convention halls.

In fact, a study by the Port Authority of New York determined that game days would result in economic losses … because everyone other than football fans would avoid going into the city on those days.

Again, having followed this sort of thing extensively and as closely as a citizen reasonably can, I have never seen a persuasive economic analysis in favor of a downtown football stadium.

Basketball/hockey/concert arenas  absolutely. Baseball stadiums  mixed results. But downtown football stadiums just don’t make sense.

— Stewart Halpern, La Jolla

 

I agree the Chargers stadium should not be the No. 1 item. What about the following, to name just a few:

— An honest dialogue about how to implement the “City of Villages” at the community plan level – we’ve been trying to do this for years and with Bill Fulton we have a great chance but there are so many moving pieces.

— World-class walk and bike facilities – everyone supports these until it means removing (gasp) parking spaces. Can we consider losing a couple of spaces to support safe walking and biking in the city? We don’t really have to pit one group against another – in a lot of cases, with some creativity we can have both parking and great walking and biking.

— Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure.

— Kathleen Ferrier, North Park

 

The city of SD should make the installation of solar collectors for all buildings – car ports, parking garages – a major priority. …We should be No. 1 in the U.S. with solar due to our climate. Water-poor but solar-rich.

— Bob Craig, Mission Beach

 

On priorities, definitely NOT a stadium, unless the Chargers want to buy the Qualcomm site and take responsibility for it.

Frankly, I’m suspicious of mayoral candidates with grandiose agendas (like Filner, e.g., with his blather about a huge port expansion and bi-national Olympics).  We tend to forget that in our system, it’s supposed to be the legislature that does the grandiose initiatives, and the executive carries out their plans.  Right now, with zero discretionary funds at their disposal, the council and the mayor would be well advised to try to keep cutting costs wherever possible and concentrate on doing the basic functions well. The best thing the mayor can do is to get rid of some deadwood managers, sell off some unnecessary properties and try to reduce the cost of doing business in San Diego. Sounds too dull to happen, right?

— Bill Bradshaw, Mission Beach

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