Hedgecock: Qualcomm site proposal should be rejected

Guest Column Guest Column 20 Comments


Background: A group of hedge fund investors have written an initiative which, if approved by San Diego voters, would give the investors development rights for 216 acres of city-owned land at Qualcomm Stadium and the former Chargers training facility. They propose mixed-use development of the Qualcomm site that would include retail, offices, hotels and a soccer stadium.

Guest Commentary
by Roger Hedgecock

The FS Investors proposal to intensely overdevelop the Qualcomm stadium site is a scandalous giveaway of public land while excluding public participation.

Voters should reject it.

The San Diego median home price is nearing $600,000. FS wants to take control of 216 acres of prime publicly owned land and they want to pay taxpayers as little as $10,000 for it.

FS proposes to construct 4,800 residential units, 2.4 million square feet of office space, a shopping center, two hotels, and a stadium.

The traffic impacts from this over-development would be twice Charger game day traffic every day. Every day.

By the terms of the initiative ballot measure they wrote, FS is not required to substantially improve any street or highway to mitigate the permanent traffic gridlock their over-development would create in Mission Valley and surrounding neighborhoods.

If approved by City voters in November, this massive over-development will be locked in with no Environmental Impact Report, no mitigation of adverse environmental effects, no public hearings, and no possibility of amendment.

Normally, initiatives can be amended by a subsequent initiative. But here, the Development Agreement that is part of the FS ballot measure prevents any subsequent initiative from amending theirs.

If the FS initiative passes in November, we are stuck with it as is forever.

“Side agreements” like the full funding of the River Park announced by the Mayor are not part of the initiative and are not legally binding on FS if the ballot
measure is passed.

There’s a better way to redevelop this last big parcel of public land; a better
way that has worked before.

When the Naval Training Center in Point Loma was closed and the land reverted to the City, an open bid process drew development proposals from all over the country.

After thorough environmental review, City staff analysis, numerous public hearings and intense media scrutiny, a much-modified proposal, including traffic improvements, was approved by the City Council and became the now widely praised Liberty Station.

But now big money special interests are lining up to support what FS calls “the new way of development”.

This “new way” exempts FS from environmental review, presents a take it or leave it ballot measure that makes drastic changes to zoning and community plans without public input or City Council review or approval.

Many powerful voices in our City have not yet been heard on this FS proposal.

FS pretends to include San Diego State’s interest in campus expansion and a football stadium for the Aztecs. The FS plan does not include either interest and SDSU knows it.

Community Planning Groups in neighborhoods in and around the Qualcomm site are just now studying the real impacts of the FS proposal behind and beyond the bright shiny promises FS is making.

The Chamber of Commerce is rightfully supportive of business, but can’t ignore the consequences of this public land giveaway and end run around protections against over-development of Mission Valley.

Likewise, organized labor should oppose this public land giveaway to Wall Street insiders, especially since only about 10 percent of the project goes to union jobs. The San Diego Democratic Party waits for Labor’s decision.

The Republican Party should also oppose this initiative, but some folks there are tempted by the prospect of the big money behind this ballot measure propelling the Mayor into a 2018 Governor’s race.

But the most powerful voice to be heard is yours. Your vote will determine the future of this precious public asset.

Some voters are dazzled now by the promise of Major League Soccer rising from the ashes of the Charger departure.

By November, I believe most voters will see this proposal for what it really is — a giveaway of public land to a politically connected private development group intent on using the ballot box to grab the stadium site forever, pay nearly nothing for it, and avoid all the protections against over-development in already crowded Mission Valley.


Comments 20

  1. Guess what? Roger is a NIMBY again.

    Keep up the NIMBYism San Diegans but don’t act surprised when all of our kids and grandkids move to Arizona, Nevada, and Texas.

  2. According to the report, the housing crisis is due to ineffective and harmful government policies that have slithered their way into our state capitol. Over regulation and impossible environmental mandates leave our housing development tangled in red tape. California has fought development of suburban neighborhoods and prides itself on fighting Green House Gas emissions. But there is nothing to be proud of when the state’s homeownership rate for ages 25-34 is 40% below the national average (according to the report).

    SOURCE: https://blogs.chapman.edu/communication/2017/05/10/california-dreamin/

  3. The high cost of real estate in southern California is not attributable to just one thing. Think about the high taxes, expensive utilities, the high cost of living here in general, all contribute to it. Supply and demand is also a major factor in this market. As a native San Diegan, I can remember Mission Valley as a wide open space, with dairies, and a few hotels and a shopping center. Now, it its a major undertaking just to go shop or dine, when dealing with the massive traffic in the entire valley. Adding thousands more homes and consumers to this already crowded area does not bode well for future transportation scenarios. I have seen, in my own community, Santee, where it can take up to 30 minutes just to get across a 3 mile community to get to the freeway. Now, with the Fanita Ranch project under construction, just east of highway 52, hundreds to thousands more will be added to the traffic gridlock, with the so-called traffic improvements already completed as part of the deal to build this development. Many times larger is the Mission Valley prospect, and to have no say in who or how the stadium area is developed is irresponsible and defies the public interest. I don’t have a solution to that situation, but I know that proceeding with no public input or government oversight is wrong and must not happen. And finally, we lost a pro football team, baseball moved, and the Aztecs football program just can’t fill the stadium. How is soccer supposed to thrive in this city? We have too much else to do, but this is not the answer .

  4. I am a career Land Broker and in all cases of Public Property going to bid said property was first offered to Public Agencies. Why isn’t this process being honored and SDSU given the first chance to buy this site for SDSU West? It is my understanding that the funds have been committed. Division 1 size Stadium would be solved.

  5. from our about page…

    Anonymity through the use of pseudo-names or handles is allowed, but commenters should use the same name for every comment entry, so as to not falsely appear to be more than one person commenting on the same or several matters. Select a name and stick with it.

    Some also believe they are being cute by selecting a name specifically matched to their comment, such as commenting on Councilman Smith under the name “Smith is a Clown.” That’s not a name and falsely assumes the commenter will be using that same name for every future comment, even when the topic isn’t Councilman Smith. Such comments will be changed to “Anonymous” by administrators.

  6. Who are these ppl? These FS ppl?
    Bet they’re from foreign lands, i e.
    Saudi Arabia –
    China –
    Japanese billionaires –

    So easily corrupted are the lower level politicians in southern
    california. It’s been literally centuries of so cal’s crooked assembly men and women, majors, attorney generals, d.a.s, cops, dispatch, city supervisors…

  7. Aaaand here comes the knee-jerk racism. Classy.

    No, they’re not foreigners. They’re local San Diegans. They’re based in La Jolla.

  8. The subject land has a soft market value in excess of $300 million and your giving it away for ten thousand bucks. How fat are Brian Brady’s Pockets getting on this deal? The subject development, as proposed, is an atrocity on the future of San Diego growth. Put this land up to market value bid (the sale alone would cure many of San Diego’s budget woes) and mindfully consider all developmental projected ideas from same. Forget the elephant in the room Brady.

  9. The land should be sold or gifted/minimal lease to an institution that will manage, maintain and provide civil activities, educational activities and athletic activities. We don’t need more commercialism nor back room deals, SDSU continually carries the standard for positive community growth, education, athletic experience/entertainment and community service.

    Do the right thing, work with SDSU and for the betterment of San Diego. Commercial/Residential Development and a Soccer Stadium (singular use-don’t kid yourself) will NOT better San Diego or its citizens.

  10. We have too much traffic congestion down in valley as it is, we don’t need anymore apartments,condos,stores, let’s get the general public involved and find a solution that’s good for everyone in San Diego.im open for suggestions, I don’t mind building, but not special interests and these wall street looks that just in for the buck.

  11. As far as I know, the stadium complex is the last sizeable land in San Diego. It should either be given/sold to another public entity or turned into Little League fields. Hang in there, Matt

  12. My son lives in Mission Valley in a Condo near Qualcomm. Did the City even think of asking what the homeowners near Qualcomm wanted?
    We do not need more Condos and stores on such valuable property!
    Please do NOT lose the San Diego Aztecs like the City losing our San Diego Chargers! Use that land as a SPORT COMPLEX !!

  13. “How fat are Brian Brady’s Pockets getting on this deal?”

    Excellent question.

    ANSWER: I have no financial or business interest whatsoever in the development. I am simply a citizen of San Diego who desperately wants crony capitalism and NIMBYism to stop driving the next generation of San Diegans to Arizona, Nevada, and Texas

  14. Yes, we have no doubt Brian can handle his own answer and he did so. Yet, the nearly automated accusatory question about anyone who shares an opinion — “How fat are (that person’s) pockets getting…?” — is quite boring.

    Robert Kasak asked the question about Brian. Mr. Kasak also shared a strong opinion about the proposed project. So, we wonder how fat Robert Kasak’s pockets are getting to oppose this deal?

    What’s good for the goose…

    Or, it’s simply boring.

    We think it’s boring.

  15. “The subject land has a soft market value in excess of $300 million and your giving it away for ten thousand bucks.”

    I don’t think that is true. My understanding (and as an observer, I may not be accurate) is that the land is valued by an independent appraisal, THEN the remediation/demolition costs are subtracted from fair market value. If that value is then negative (and it well may be), then the developer has to pay the City $10,000.

    I work in real estate and, while I have no financial nor business interest in the project, I can tell you that oftentimes the market value less demo costs is negative. In this case, the appraisal will help to determine that.

  16. “the land is valued by an independent appraisal THEN, the remediation/demolition costs are subtracted from fair market value. If that value is then negative (and it well may be), then the developer has to pay the City $10,000.

    The key question is whether the appraisal treats the land as being fully entitled or not. My guess is not, even though the land will get all the entitlements the developer needs.

  17. “The key question is whether the appraisal treats the land as being fully entitled or not”

    Good question.

    “My guess is not, even though the land will get all the entitlements the developer needs.”

    I wouldn’t even guess because I have no financial or business interests in the project.

  18. The more we learn about Sucker City, the worse it, and it’s disingenuous managers , SMELL. Fortunately there is plenty of time for an advised electorate to throw this obscene fraud back in Falconer’s face. Our world class university is the rightful heir to the Q site !

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