City council approves SDSU West for November ballot after city attorney’s analysis shows ‘uncertainties’


David Santillan

Director of Athletics John David Wicker unveils the renderings for SDSU's proposed Campus West stadium in November 2017.

by Bella Ross, Senior Staff Writer

The San Diego City Council voted unanimously to send the SDSU West initiative to the voters in November.

The decision came after an analysis of the SDSU West initiative from the San Diego City Attorney’s office concluded that there are “many uncertainties” in the measure.

“The initiative is difficult to analyze because there are so many uncertainties,” wrote Leslie FitzGerald, the senior chief deputy city attorney who signed the report.she dra.

The SDSU West initiative seeks to make use of the existing SDCCU Stadium site by turning it into a “campus environment,” including housing, classrooms, hotels, retail, a stadium and a river park.. The proposed project is likely to compete against the opposing SoccerCity initiative in the polls this November. That initiative seeks to bring a Major League Soccer team to San Diego through the development of a stadium and entertainment hub on the same site.

While the headline of SDSU West’s website prominently reads, “No Cost to Taxpayers,” the wording of the actual initiative communicates this point with less certainty. According to FitzGerald’s report, the initiative’s use of taxpayer funds is “unclear.”

According to the report, the initiative said, “River Park improvements [will] be made at no cost to the City General Fund.” However, the report said the initiative failed to rule out the use of other city funds in reference to the River Park, which sits on City-owned property.

Due to the River Park’s location, the report said that a California Environmental Quality Act review would be required, which would generally call for additional funding from the developer to pay for subsequent staffing. However, the initiative does not indicate how this staffing will be funded. The initiative then neglects to address how maintenance of this City-owned property will be paid for.

SDSU West Steering Committee member Kim Kilkenny said he does not find the initiative to be unclear in regards to the role of taxpayer funding.

“What the initiative says is that San Diego State has to provide a river park at no cost to the city,” Kilkenny said. “The initiative is really clear on that.”

The San Diego Police Officers Association announced on March 6 that they officially endorse the SDSU West initiative and oppose the SoccerCity initiative. This is after the Sierra Club announced their endorsement for the initiative on Feb. 27.

“We’re obviously very honored and pleased that these organizations would endorse out initiative and oppose SoccerCity,” Kilkenny said.

SDPOA President Jack Schaeffer said the Association supports SDSU West due to their perception that this project serves the best interest of the public, as opposed to SoccerCity.

“This is public land, and it should be used for a public purpose that benefits our entire community,” Schaeffer said in a statement. “The SDSU West initiative ensures the city will be paid fair market value for this important public asset, guarantees an open and transparent planning process and creates a river park and open space along the San Diego River accessible to all San Diegans.”

SoccerCity Project Manager Nick Stone said he disagrees that SDSU West is the best solution for San Diegans, citing that Elliot’s memo has highlighted the initiative’s transparency problem.
“The City Attorney’s analysis exposes the empty promises that the developer promoters of SDSU West are making to San Diego,” Stone said in a statement. “ It’s clearer than ever that the so-called SDSU West initiative, while hiding behind the university’s name, is really about protecting the interests of Mission Valley land barons on the backs of San Diego taxpayers.

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