Sherman Says The Chargers Initiative is a “Con”
Mission Valley is at a crossroads. With the looming exit of the San Diego Chargers and politicians playing hot potato with development plans and initiatives, it’s hard to gauge what will happen with the Qualcomm stadium site. Here’s what we know.
The Stadium/Mission Valley ordeal has impacted the City Council races as Democrats and Republicans vie for control of the council. This is especially true in District 7 where the political consultants have used the issue as a battleground for messaging and votes.
District 7, which encompasses most of Mission Valley has Republican incumbent Scott Sherman running against Democrats Justin DeCesare and Jose Caballero.
DeCesare is on record as supporting the Citizens’ Plan for Tourism Reform. The plan’s cornerstone messages are to preserve local resources and protect local taxpayers. Now that the Chargers have focussed on downtown many voters in the communities surrounding the current stadium in Mission Valley care more about Parks and SDSU than they do about the Chargers. The Citizens’ Plan vision for parks and education at the Qualcomm site was polled online by the San Diego Union-Tribune and 95% of more than 62,000 people agreed with the concept.
Sherman championed the mayor’s efforts, and $350 million tax subsidy, to keep the Chargers in Mission Valley, who added his own high-density, condo centric plan to the equation. His plan also considered a new stadium for the Chargers with a combination of housing, shops and restaurants.
"A lot of times, people go downtown to the Gaslamp and those types of things,'' Sherman said. "They go there whether or not Petco (Park) has a game going on or not. The same thing could happen here.''
Sherman also penned a scathing opinion about the Chargers plan for a downtown stadium and convention center. The piece was an op-ed and published in the Voice of San Diego. Sherman wrote, “due to the findings I’ve made, I cannot support the Chargers’ Citizen’s Initiative at this time. The Chargers need to provide data that shows how another comparable convadium facility works and provides value on the convention center side of the project.”
Caballero hasn’t weighed in on either plan.
DeCesare, who spent the last two years as chairman of the Tierrasanta Community Planning Group, has stated publicly that he believes the best use of the Qualcomm site would be for Park Land expansion and protection and higher education opportunities. He has endorsed the Citizens’ Plan, which would provide for such uses.
He has criticized Sherman for not focusing on neighborhood concerns and his plans for Mission Valley.
“The incumbent Councilmember for my district has been promoting an irresponsible plan for a new stadium that would create gridlock in Mission Valley and has already cost taxpayers millions for an environmental report that the Chargers themselves called flawed and indefensible,” He said. “ The initiative [Citizens’ Plan for Tourism Reform] offers a more environmentally and fiscally responsible approach.”
The mayor’s plan authorized spending $2.1 million in public funds for an expedited environmental impact report (EIR) which the Chargers called “not legally defensible” in court.
The Chargers initially endorsed the Citizens’ Plan, but since the initiative does not allow for the use of public funds for a stadium, they created their own measure.
The Chargers Plan would raise the City of San Diego’s Transient Oriented Taxes or TOT from 12.5% to 16.5% and re-direct most of those tourism dollars to building a new stadium and expanding the convention center away from the waterfront.
Voters will get to decide June 7 which message is resonating and which candidate has a better vision for San Diego. As for the initiatives, the Chargers Initiative still has to qualify for the November ballot, while the Citizens’ Plan For Tourism Reform has all but assured its place on the ballot after turning in 100,845 signatures to the Registrar.