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.
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.