Flores Questions Environmentalist’s Support of Measure D
District 9 City Council candidate Ricardo Flores expressed his opposition to Measures C and D in an interview with San Diego Union-Tribune last week. He opposes Measure C, also known as the Chargers’ Initiative, on the grounds that it permits the use of taxpayer dollars to build a new football stadium.
Measure D (formerly known as the “Citizens’ Plan”) actually prohibits the use of taxpayer money to fund construction costs without a public vote. And while the measure addresses Flores’s qualms with C, the candidate voiced concerns over D’s proposed exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). “I don’t know why there’s so much support from the environmental community because it clearly says it exempts CEQA,” Flores told the Union-Tribune.
Former State Senator Steve Peace explained that this is a “process exemption, not a qualitative exemption.” Peace continued, “Any development directly related to the passage of Measure D will not be exempt from meeting the environmental and social justice obligations required by law.”
CEQA was enacted to protect California’s environment from abuse, overdevelopment, and environmental harm by involving the public. However, anybody can file an appeal alleging CEQA violations, which has left it vulnerable to misuse. Opponents of a project can use CEQA as grounds for litigation, thereby halting construction (and jobs) for reasons other than environmental impact.
This was noted in a 2015 report, where only 13% of CEQA lawsuits are brought by recognized state and national environmental advocacy groups. The vast majority of petitioners have no prior track record of environmental advocacy.
Peace described the process exemption as “a responsible way to go about mitigating costs for the public and, at the same time, meeting all the environmental as well as social justice obligations for the surrounding communities.” He noted, “A developer has to assume responsibility for meeting all those environmental requirements and has to be familiar enough with the area that’s being developed.”
Ultimately, Flores believes the revenue generated from Measures C and D would be better spent on neighborhoods – not on stadium construction. Flores said, “We have the ability to take that revenue and go into the neighborhoods and actually do something that they want us to do.”
Measure D is endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters San Diego.