Jeff Smith 6:35 p.m., June 27
Ballpark Study Confesses: "We Hastened and Greatly Worsened the Glut"
It's amazing how perpetual fudgers and fabricators sometimes let the truth slip out. So it is with the purported analysis of the economic impact of Petco Park, arranged by the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. The so-called study claims that Petco Park has been a great boon. It is complete statistical fabrication, and I will get into myriad details later. But on page 61, the consulting firm doing the study lets the truth out. Here's the statement: "Would redevelopment have happened anyway? Likely, but not to the extent, and not at this rapid pace." Amen. That is a major reason why there is not only a huge glut of condos and hotels in the ballpark district, but the ballpark-generated overbuilding has also helped cause gluts elsewhere downtown and throughout the city. Hopefully, San Diegans understand that downtown condos are a disaster, as are hotels. (Any hotel built or refinanced in the last five years is underwater.) The consultant clearly admits that the rapid and excessive construction of these buildings to facilitate the ballpark project is greatly to blame. Opponents of the project said all along that what is now called the ballpark district would develop some day when there was a market for it. But pushing the process would only cause a glut. And it is there for all to see.
The wholly fallacious study goes to great length to say how assessed valuations have soared, as have assets. But think of it this way: suppose a company spends $500 million on a plant and equipment to build a smart phone. But quickly, another company comes out with a phone that is twice is good at half the price. The building's assessed valuation remains high for an indefinite period; the asset stays on the books. But what are the building and the equipment REALLY worth? That's downtown San Diego. That's the ballpark district. Thanks to the economic development corp. for unwittingly admitting what has happened.