City Attorney's Appeals Denied - SoccerCity and SDSU West Set For November Election
The cloud of uncertainty surrounding the status of two of San Diego's most talked about ballot initiatives lifted on Monday when the Fourth District Court of Appeal opted not to obstruct the will of the people from manifesting in Mission Valley.
“Thorough examination of the merits of the initiatives would extend past the deadline for printing ballot materials (Aug. 10th)... we decline to eliminate the right of the public to express its views on the competing initiatives,” Justices Patricia Benke, Richard Huffman and Joan Irion said in their denial of the city attorney’s emergency petitions that were filed last week in yet another attempt to stifle the voices of citizens in San Diego.
SoccerCity and SDSU West have both qualified for the November election via the very Citizens' Initiative process that the City Attorney's office attempted to strike them off the ballot with, claiming that both initiatives overstep the intent of the mechanism itself.
SoccerCity accrued over 110k signatures in just under 12 days in the spring of 2017 and SDSU followed suit, submitting the signatures its backers gathered in early 2018 following a collection period of about 80 days.
August 10 is the last day for ballot measures to officially be placed on the docket for this November, and the last-ditch appeal by the City Attorney's office did not allow for a substantive evaluation of the claim
“Under these circumstances, and given the substantial public interest involved, we decline to eliminate the right of the public to express its views on the competing initiatives,” explained the statement from the appellate court.
SoccerCity and SDSU West bear some similarities in their shape, primarily replacing the crumbling SDCCU Stadium that is set to remain in use until at least 2020 following the City Council's decision to extend the Aztec lease on the building, but proponents of SoccerCity assert that theirs is better for all of San Diego due to its inclusion of the elements San Diego State University claim to need in order to grow, and being entirely privately funded.
“With this challenge to their constitutional rights now behind them, San Diegans now have the opportunity to vote for SoccerCity,” said Nick Stone, project manager for the SoccerCity proposal.
“As the only plan for sports without subsidies, SoccerCity will transform the crumbling Mission Valley stadium site … all at no cost to taxpayers,” concluded Stone, who also mentioned that in addition to costing the taxpayer nothing out of pocket, the SoccerCity plan also generates much more revenue for the City of San Diego itself as determined by an independent analysis by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association.
The revenues generated for San Diego by either project could be put towards the city's coffers and used for all manner of projects, potentially including the unforeseen repercussions of the ever-looming pension crisis facing the city.
The court denied both writs of mandate submitted to it on identical grounds, concluding that the city’s “assertion that it will have to spend taxpayer money” to place the initiatives on the ballot “is not substantial enough to prevent (them) from going before the electorate.”
“With no further legal barriers in our path and overwhelming support from San Diegans, SDSU West is officially headed for the November ballot,” said Katy Temple, a spokeswoman for Friends of SDSU, the booster group behind the SDSU West initiative.
“We did everything we could to lift the cloud of legal uncertainty over these measures so San Diego voters could participate with confidence in a decision that will impact us for generations,” the city attorney’s office said in a statement.
While the backers of both initiatives have long-held the belief that the will of the people would be realized come November, it is still something of a relief to have the pending legal action dismissed. Assuming no further action from any parties takes place, all attention can now shift to the campaign process in earnest as fall approaches.