By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag
Is the City of San Diego about to go for a blanket CEQA exemption for the Mission Valley stadium?
Dan McLellan thinks so. He used to sit on the San Diego Stadium Coalition, was its vice-president for awhile and is a longtime ardent Chargers fan. He departed the group so he could speak out more aggressively, he told us.
McLellan thinks that all evidence points to the city attempting – what he terms “the legally dubious move”- of getting a blanket CEQA exemption in order to advance any proposed stadium project to a December 15th vote – which has been proposed by Mayor Faulconer just recently.
He actually warned against seeking a CEQA exemption on KUSI on March 18th ( San Diego Chargers future remains unclear.)
“What we don’t want to see happen,” McLellan said, ” in order to create a clear path for development, then come out and say that they are going to get a CEQA exemption.”
McLellan wrote the OB Rag:
That is a California Environmental Quality Act exemption, because really there is zero precedent for a CEQA exemption succeeding here. Maybe with a stadium, but not with a massive development. You are basically talking about putting a new city into Mission Valley.
There is no way you can discard all of the environmental laws there. The Chargers won’t go for that because that would be kind of the same muddied politics that lead to the convention center failure. So the Chargers don’t want to get involved with a bunch of lawsuits, environmental lawsuits.
So, they need to create a clear path to development without using a CEQA exemption, because that is just not going to fly.
I believe the city is prepared to argue that this method was successful in the City of Industry when developer Ed Roski proposed building a stadium in 2009. Roski was able to achieve an unprecedented exemption. However, Roski only got partial exemption to expedite litigation. He already had a full EIR when exemption was given. Ultimately he still needed to be CEQA compliant.
What the city is proposing is unprecedented. They want to avoid environmental law altogether.
There are already several groups who have signed a petition that would likely fight this move and tie it up in courts for years.
Believe-it-or-not, I can assure that I do not believe that is something the Chargers support. They would much prefer a downtown stadium/convention center project. This is coming from the mayor’s office an attempt to defend CSAG’s recommendation of Mission Valley.
This is not the only Southern California effort to get a CEQA exemption for a football stadium. Up in Los Angeles, AEG, owner of the Staples Center, wants a CEQA Exemption for a new NFL Football Stadium in downtown LA. A huge opposition to this plan has formed and 112 environmental, community, and business groups oppose a CEQA exemption.
Will the city make this move?
Dan McLellan used to work for Save Our Bolts group, and has a longtime history of supporting the Chargers stadium.
For more on Mission Valley development– How to Destroy Mission Valley and Civita: The Largest Project in the Continued Destruction of Mission Valley
bob dorn says
Thank you Dan McLellan and Frank Gormlie for revealing another machination from the p.r. tools who sit in public office. You have to wonder if the stadium downtown was all along designed to be an opening shot from our managers at City Hall. They might have intended all along to switch to Mission Valley and make a gift of land alongside the Chargers palace to major national chains for more mid-fashion mid rises and auto dealerships. Plus, no environmentalist movement could effectively attack more parking lots and cars in the valley because, what the hell, it’s already f’d up.
No one of our managers are pointing out that if the Chargers leave town Qualcomm could be used for a public school and a fire station or, gods forbid, a public park.
Lori Saldaña says
Unfortunately there is legislative precedent for this action. See here.
Also see bill history here.
When it came up for final vote in the assembly I joked: “I rise to adjourn in memory of the San Diego Chargers.” (I voted no)
Dan McLellan says
The difference is Lori, Roski still had to get a full EIR and comply with CEQA. His exemption curtailed lawsuits. San Diego wants to avoid getting an EIR altogether then some day develop the land for condos and businesses. Imagine raising a family or going to work daily on land that was known to be contimanated, but never needed an EIR before development. That is what mayor Faulconer and his group will try to get done.
TO BE CLEAR: I am 100 percent pro-stadium. But it needs to be done legally and with the public interest in mind. Downtown is clearly the answer.
Lori Saldaña says
The main point is: this was a troubling bill, both for its potential impact, lack of transparency and its manner of passage.
And these maneuvers, far from the view of citizens of San Diego, leave open the door for similar lawmaking related to future stadium projects, in San Diego and beyond.
To quote the news article:
“While state lawmakers have previously exempted a few projects from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), no waiver has been as far-reaching as that in AB 81 X3. In addition to the CEQA waiver, the bill exempts developer Majestic Realty from a state law requiring its project – a 75,000-seat football stadium, a 25,000-space parking lot and 3 million square feet of entertainment, commercial and office space – to be compatible with the City of Industry’s general plan. Finally, the bill bars any legal challenge based on CEQA, including two lawsuits already filed by the City of Walnut and a Walnut citizens group.”
Don Wood says
Never be surprised if city hall again tries to dodge state law and gets burned. They get lousy legal advice from a burned out former politician.
Pro sports is a weird drug; these people will sell their land for their fix.