SDSU West May In Fact Rely On Taxpayer Funding
Members of the SDSU West Steering Committee have come under intense fire in recent weeks for inconsistencies in the language used to promote their initiative that is set to rival the SoccerCity project at the ballot box this November.
KPBS published a story recently highlighting the fact that the message from SDSU West backers has slowly shifted in recent weeks and months. Originally, the members of the Friends of SDSU group maintained that their project would not rely on public money in any capacity.Somewhere along the line, that language started to include qualifiers relating to the city's general fund specifically.
In the wake of the Chargers' $400 million ask of the city, the promise of no taxpayer funds is logical and proper, but one wonders whether the transition from "no public money" to "no new taxes" is simply a precursor to yet another forthcoming twist of creative language.
Indeed the 14 page SDSU West Initiative contains a number of broad and sweeping sentences that leave a fair amount of room for interpretation. Three sections of the Initiative have been selected to highlight below.
- "1. Adopt a new legislative policy of the City of San Diego (City) authorizing, directing, and providing the means for the sale of the approximately 132 acres of real property situated in the City at 9449 Friars Road, between Interstate 15 (I-15) and Interstate 8 (I8), as reflected on the site map attached hereto as Section 8, Exhibit “A”) (Existing Stadium Site), to San Diego State University (SDSU) for Bona Fide Public Purposes; provided, however, that: (a) Such sale shall be at such price and upon such terms and timing as the City Council shall deem to be fair and equitable and in the public interest..."
This initiative was written after the City Council's independent third party assessor determined the value of the Qualcomm Stadium parcel to be $83 million. Acknowledging that the university is only looking for 133 of the 166 acres that make up the property, why did the authors of the SDSU West Initiative choose to omit the appraisal value accepted by the SoccerCity backers?
- f) Graduate and undergraduate student housing to assist athlete and student recruitment; and with such uses contributing to sales and possessory interest taxes, as applicable, to the City;
Does the City of San Diego recoup sales tax on state owned property?
- 7. The People of the City of San Diego desire revitalization and restoration of the San Diego River Park south of the Existing Stadium Site as envisioned by past community planning efforts so as to integrate the Mission Valley’s urban setting with the natural environment; and incorporate active and passive park uses, 8- to 10-foot wide linear walking and biking trails; a river buffer of native vegetation and measures to mitigate drainage impacts and ensure compliance with water quality standards; and said River Park improvements be made at no cost to the City General Fund and completed not later than seven years from the date of execution of the sales agreement."
As admirable as it may sound to omit the City General Fund from any obligation to the River Park improvements called for in the initiative, the fact is, there is an entirely separate funding mechanism for public parks known as the Capital Improvements Program (CIP). In other words, water is not dry.
Listen to Doyle's interview with KPBS.