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Mission Valley planners scorn soccer end-run-around group

Park proposal more vague than presented

The company has proposed leasing the city-owned 166 acres around Qualcomm for $10,000 a year, and building a soccer stadium, 4,800 units of housing, commercial buildings and parks.
The company has proposed leasing the city-owned 166 acres around Qualcomm for $10,000 a year, and building a soccer stadium, 4,800 units of housing, commercial buildings and parks.

Hours after Mayor Kevin Faulconer stood with FS Investors in support of their Qualcomm redo ballot initiative, the developers received a far less friendly reception at the Mission Valley Planning Group.

The company has proposed leasing the city-owned 166 acres around Qualcomm for $10,000 a year, and building a soccer stadium, 4,800 units of housing, commercial buildings and parks on the site. They've taken the unusual step of qualifying the project for a public vote through a ballot initiative, which circumvents part of the normal development planning process.

"To me, this sounds like an old-fashioned land grab," said Tom Schiff, who noted that he'd rather see a football team at the Q. "I asked last month as I did a year ago, what about the refurbishing of the Q — that seems to be slipping away."

The group was faced with a yes or no decision on the plan — which will avoid the normal California Environmental Quality Act review because it's a ballot initiative — and they didn't like it. While the wanna-be developers stood with Faulconer on Wednesday morning and promised $40 million for a park, by mid-day the promise became a little vague. "What is locked is $40 million," said Nick Stone, from FS Investors. "What's not locked is how we spend it." Similarly, the commitment to housing is locked, he said, "What is not locked is where we put it."

As proposed, the developers would owe $51 million in parks or in fees for parks anyway, an analyst asserted. Stone defended the ballot initiative, saying the land belongs to all of San Diego and "It's the people's asset, it's the people's city and we're taking it to the people to decide."

The initiative and the hype surrounding it begs the question how viable a soccer stadium is likely to be, given the mediocre draws soccer has had up to now.

The normally decisive group struggled with how to deal with the project, which will not go through a normal review process. Rob Hutsel, who is the executive director for the San Diego River Park Foundation, wanted time to look at the proposal that promises the river park an expansion it has long sought. But they don't get to do that, they were cautioned.

"Don't go in there thinking you can negotiate — you can't," former La Jolla Planning Committee chairman Joe LaCava said, urging the Mission Valley group to take strategic action. "If you vote no, they will sweeten the deal...Make them come back and sweeten the deal."

One speaker said she had read the 3,000-page plan, and found troubling information, including that FS Investors will have 10 years to deliver the affordable housing proposed. She said that the zoning changes in the initiative will more than double the value of the land to $500 million. "That's a public subsidy," she said.

But it was the ballot initiative that most frustrated the group. "Citizens initiatives trivialize this group," said group member Marco Sessa, from Sudberry Properties. "I'd like to send a message to the city council and the planning commission that citizens' initiatives circumvent the public process that we have all committed to."

The planning group had seen the proposal before, and the La Jolla investors had apparently challenged whether or not Sessa should recuse himself. since he works for a competing developer — Sudberry developed Civita in Mission Valley. Stone asked if Sessa would recuse himself and got a firm no.

"We spent money on attorneys to decide I don't have to recuse myself," Sessa said.

The group voted 14-4 to write a letter to the council and commission saying just that; and voted to set up a subcommittee to study the FS Investors plan, and bring the information back at a later meeting.

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The company has proposed leasing the city-owned 166 acres around Qualcomm for $10,000 a year, and building a soccer stadium, 4,800 units of housing, commercial buildings and parks.
The company has proposed leasing the city-owned 166 acres around Qualcomm for $10,000 a year, and building a soccer stadium, 4,800 units of housing, commercial buildings and parks.

Hours after Mayor Kevin Faulconer stood with FS Investors in support of their Qualcomm redo ballot initiative, the developers received a far less friendly reception at the Mission Valley Planning Group.

The company has proposed leasing the city-owned 166 acres around Qualcomm for $10,000 a year, and building a soccer stadium, 4,800 units of housing, commercial buildings and parks on the site. They've taken the unusual step of qualifying the project for a public vote through a ballot initiative, which circumvents part of the normal development planning process.

"To me, this sounds like an old-fashioned land grab," said Tom Schiff, who noted that he'd rather see a football team at the Q. "I asked last month as I did a year ago, what about the refurbishing of the Q — that seems to be slipping away."

The group was faced with a yes or no decision on the plan — which will avoid the normal California Environmental Quality Act review because it's a ballot initiative — and they didn't like it. While the wanna-be developers stood with Faulconer on Wednesday morning and promised $40 million for a park, by mid-day the promise became a little vague. "What is locked is $40 million," said Nick Stone, from FS Investors. "What's not locked is how we spend it." Similarly, the commitment to housing is locked, he said, "What is not locked is where we put it."

As proposed, the developers would owe $51 million in parks or in fees for parks anyway, an analyst asserted. Stone defended the ballot initiative, saying the land belongs to all of San Diego and "It's the people's asset, it's the people's city and we're taking it to the people to decide."

The initiative and the hype surrounding it begs the question how viable a soccer stadium is likely to be, given the mediocre draws soccer has had up to now.

The normally decisive group struggled with how to deal with the project, which will not go through a normal review process. Rob Hutsel, who is the executive director for the San Diego River Park Foundation, wanted time to look at the proposal that promises the river park an expansion it has long sought. But they don't get to do that, they were cautioned.

"Don't go in there thinking you can negotiate — you can't," former La Jolla Planning Committee chairman Joe LaCava said, urging the Mission Valley group to take strategic action. "If you vote no, they will sweeten the deal...Make them come back and sweeten the deal."

One speaker said she had read the 3,000-page plan, and found troubling information, including that FS Investors will have 10 years to deliver the affordable housing proposed. She said that the zoning changes in the initiative will more than double the value of the land to $500 million. "That's a public subsidy," she said.

But it was the ballot initiative that most frustrated the group. "Citizens initiatives trivialize this group," said group member Marco Sessa, from Sudberry Properties. "I'd like to send a message to the city council and the planning commission that citizens' initiatives circumvent the public process that we have all committed to."

The planning group had seen the proposal before, and the La Jolla investors had apparently challenged whether or not Sessa should recuse himself. since he works for a competing developer — Sudberry developed Civita in Mission Valley. Stone asked if Sessa would recuse himself and got a firm no.

"We spent money on attorneys to decide I don't have to recuse myself," Sessa said.

The group voted 14-4 to write a letter to the council and commission saying just that; and voted to set up a subcommittee to study the FS Investors plan, and bring the information back at a later meeting.

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Comments
7

The company has proposed leasing the city-owned 166 acres around Qualcomm for $10,000 a year. Only $10,000? That is like $1 to you or me. Something stinks badly. They need to add a couple of zeros, to make it $1 million a year!

April 7, 2017

I'd add even one more zero than you. They're talking about roughly 5 thousand housing units, right? So let's say the value of that is roughly 5k X 2k / mo rent X 12 months which is about $100M / yr they could bring in if they were to lease all the residential units. So at a minimum I would suggest charging at least $10M / yr for a lease.

April 7, 2017

From the illustration, the retail aspect (in red) appears to be way too much. Stores are closing nationwide by the thousands. This trend will continue. The plan is ridiculous in many ways, but especially in the retail part. Do the developers even watch/read the news? http://www.nbcnews.com/business/economy/retail-pain-plain-march-jobs-report-n743901

April 7, 2017

The arrogance and bovine excrement of these people is astounding. They're forcing a false urgency to this whole thing in an attempt to keep people from seeing that everything is being done exactly backwards.

There needs to be a completely independent commission that genuinely takes in public input on the best uses for the redevelopment of this area. Then and only then you have different parties bid to develop specific projects in coordination under its supervision.

But instead, we have a syndicate trying to force us to lease the whole thing for $10,000 a year! and refuses to commit to even its own plans! ("What is locked is $40 million," said Nick Stone, from FS Investors. "What's not locked is how we spend it." Similarly, the commitment to housing is locked, he said, "What is not locked is where we put it.") And the mayor and most of the Establishment are behind them?

San Diego isn't just sunny—it's so blazingly corrupt you can see it from outer space.

April 7, 2017

I don't live within the San Diego city limits but I do drive through Mission Valley daily on my way to Mission Beach to work out. Mission Valley doesn't need 5000 more cracker box, overpriced housing units. Mission Valley doesn't need a soccer stadium, Mission Valley doesn't need another shopping center. Mission Valley is already a congested mess!

Please, "San Diegans", get a grip. San Diego needs road upgrades, sewer upgrades, building code/planning enforcements, pension controls, and cops. You don't need a larger convention center extension or a soccer stadium! Work out a deal with SDSU (and maybe USD) to upgrade Qualcom for football. Then, in the event an opportunity arose for the NFL to relocate a franchise, San Diego could be considered.

Your mayor is a clown. Figure it out and do something about it! It's your town...If you let them screw you over again (Ala San Diego Padres/downtown) you deserve it.

I'm surprised FS Investors hasn't proposed a bullring...They're slinging enough of it!

April 7, 2017

Thanks for the advice, but we San Diegans will seek out more informed opinions...

April 8, 2017

I have to agree, Herkimer. The FS Investors scheme is a scam, which doesn't benefit the citizens of San Diego. It deserves a NO vote.

April 8, 2017

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