San Diego City Attorney Seeks Appeals for Failed Lawsuits
On Tuesday, July 24th, San Diego City Council authorized a request to appeal two failed lawsuits put forward by the City Attorney aimed at the opposing ballot initiatives set for the November election. Both the SoccerCity and the SDSU West initiatives seek to redevelop the Mission Valley property where the NFL's Chargers used to call home, but the City Attorney takes issue with the Citizen's Initiative mechanism that backers of the two plans have utilized in order to qualify for the upcoming midterm election.
“The Soccer City and SDSU West initiatives essentially force the lease or sale of City assets on terms set by the proponents,” Elliott said in a statement. “By filing writs with the Fourth District Court of Appeal, the City seeks clarity on whether this unprecedented use of the initiative process is legal.”
Tuesday's closed session vote ended five to three in favor of pursuing appeals on both suits. Council members Lorie Zapf, Mark Kersey and Chris Cate voted against additional legal action, while Council member Scott Sherman was not present.
“Pre-election review of these local initiatives will ensure that an invalid measure is not presented to voters, avoiding years of costly litigation and delay,” Elliott said.
This latest development in the ongoing saga to settle the future of Mission Valley is disappointing, but not surprising. San Diego has amassed a staggering track record of failing to execute on large scale projects and dillydallying on important policy decisions
In typical San Diego fashion, both of these additional legal challenges are expected to result in absolutely nothing changing. Backers of both initiatives have stated that they fully expect to remain on the docket for decision by the citizens of San Diego.
“We are confident the appellate court will uphold the trial court ruling in support of SDSU West,” the Friends of SDSU said in a statement. “The initiative is consistent with California state law and the San Diego City Charter. The SDSU West initiative was expressly written to give the Mayor and City Council the power to determine terms of an agreement to sell the stadium site.”
The project manager for the SoccerCity proposal, Nick Stone, also indicated that he is positive that his initiative will prevail.
"Given that more than 110,000 San Diegans signed our petition in record time, we remain confident that any attempt to deny the people their right to vote on this popular initiative will ultimately be rejected by the courts,” said Stone, a partner of the FS Investors group that is pushing to bring Major League Soccer to San Diego. “The SoccerCity plan provides something for every San Diegan, including room for SDSU to grow, as well as a new stadium, large river park and a vibrant sports-and-entertainment district, all without using any taxpayer dollars.”
What happens next is anyone's guess, but expect for November to loom large as this debate rumbles on.
In the meantime, the city of San Diego has agreed a deal in principle to extend the lease that SDSU holds on the existing stadium.
Local radio show hosts Chris Woods and Ben Higgins discussed the issue on a recent episode of their show. Have a listen and decide for yourself what makes the most sense for San Diego.