Attorneys and courtrooms.
If you care about what happens to all those acres and opportunities in Mission Valley, then get ready to ingest legalese and courtroom reporting as SDSU West and SoccerCity gavel it out this summer.
Three lawsuits have been filed against the two measures vying for the land not only in Mission Valley, but one of them also contemplates commercial development at the Chargers former practice facility in Murphy Canyon.
This week in Superior Court, attorneys for SoccerCity have claimed the Friends of SDSU effort violates several statutes and should be "thrown off the ballot." And that using the SDSU logo and name for a private development is a clear violation of California’s Education, Government and Elections Codes.
SoccerCity Attorney: "Please Stop"
SoccerCity attorney Michael Attanasio addressed Judge Joel Wohlfeil arguing his side, "we are suing the City Clerk and County Registrar to say, do not put an initiative on the ballot that so clearly violates the law. Please stop. And that's the standing that we bring before your honor. We have standing to do that."
Attanasio also raised concerns that California State University Trustees may have never given permission to the Friends of SDSU to use the logo or likeness of the university in its advertising and marketing campaigns. He went on, "the initiative proposed by the Friends of SDSU is a private, individual, sponsored initiative. It is not an SDSU initiative, it is not a State of California initiative, this is a commercial development sponsored by private individuals. And as a privately sponsored, commercially based development, it has to comply with the law just like everybody else."
Friends of SDSU Attorney Responds
Election Law Attorney Stephen Kaufman represents the Friends of SDSU and their initiative.
On Monday, Kaufman and his team received Judge Wohlfeil's tentative ruling (See Below) that was by all measures a good outcome for his side. Tuesday, Kaufman addressed the court responding to Attanasio's claims saying that in no way is the Friends of SDSU initiative in violation of the law. Kaufman told the court, "the evidence fundamentally does not support that there is a clearly invalid measure or that there are any objectively false statements contained within this initiative that would enable and authorize this court to take the extraordinary step of invalidating this initiative before it goes to the people."
IVN San Diego spoke with Kaufman after court, "We're confident that the judge will come back with a ruling that's consistent with his tentative that he issued yesterday, and we look forward to receiving it."
Judge Wohlfeil's Tentative Rebuke
The arguments came after Superior Court judge Joel Wohlfeil issued a tentative ruling against SoccerCity, stating their request to remove SDSU West from the ballot did not achieve the "high bar necessary to grant that action."
Judge Wohlfeil addressed SoccerCity concerns writing, "Although the initiative language may emphasize some aspects of the project over others (e.g., the river park), it is not misleading or objectively false. This argument lacks merit."
Those words not misleading and lacks merit could be found throughout Wohlfeil's tentative ruling.
The word tentative is important in that Judge Wohlfeil announced he would return his final verdict soon. Observers have noted it is extremely unlikely Wohlfeil's final verdict would include the removal of the SDSU WEST initiative from the ballot. Equally as unlikely is that his ruling will include a scolding of the SoccerCity side for "wasting the court’s time."
The judge seems acutely aware that due to the nature of the campaigns, that both sides will use the courts language for social media and direct marketing to voters.