Politics Report: What Happens Now in Sports Arena Land
Not clear on what happened to the Sports Arena project this week? We got you. Also, the mayor likes bagging on the previous mayor but likes some of his stuff too.
It’s official: San Diego needs to re-start its effort to redevelop the Sports Arena area because its process last year likely violated state law.
The law in question – the Surplus Lands Act – is decades old, but in 2019 was tweaked.
The goal: To increase the chance that publicly owned land included sufficient low-income housing whenever it was redeveloped.
That tweak meant San Diego should have told other public agencies and affordable housing developers that the 48 acres around the Sports Arena was available before it solicited private developers to put together bids to lease the land and revamp it, the state’s Housing and Community Development office confirmed this week in a letter it sent the city. That’s true even though the city planned to lease the land, not sell it, a distinction clarified in the 2019 change to the law.
In March, we broke the news that the wonky state law threatened the project – one of the final major initiatives of former Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s administration before he left office. City officials ran headlong into the problem, but their counterparts at the Metropolitan Transit System (the board of which includes city leaders) and the city of Chula Vista were well aware last year of the threat the state law posed to redevelopment efforts that were underway, and took steps to comply with the law.
Here’s what happens now.