San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has called for spending $2.1 million on an environmental impact study of his dead-in-the-water Chargers stadium plan, which, whatever, mayors spend that kind of money on stupid stuff all the time. The weird thing, though, is in the EIS fine print:
California law requires people who are building things to study not only the projects they plan to build but also to reasonably foreseeable expansions or additions. If they don’t do this, and they later announce plans for condos or development on the side of the stadium, they will very vulnerable to a lawsuit alleging they piecemealed the environmental study to make sure it was easy to approve.
The mayor’s office doesn’t disagree. It has simply dropped the idea that real estate development around the new stadium will help pay for the new stadium.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s spokesman, Craig Gustafson, told me in an email that the mayor’s task force (otherwise known as the Citizens’ Stadium Advisory Group, or CSAG) did recommend ancillary development but it was just that: a recommendation.
“The City/County plan does not rely on ancillary development for a stadium to be financed,” Gustafson wrote. “The plan the City/County team is developing is based on negotiations and discussions with the Chargers and the NFL.”
Um, what? Here’s the CSAG funding plan:
Okay, maybe they intend to sell 75 acres of the Qualcomm Stadium site to a developer for $225 million just so he can stroke and hum to it, but I’m guessing there would be an expectation of actually building something there. Which means that Faulconer just blew a $225 million hole in his own plan, with nothing identified to replace it beyond “we’re negotiating.”
If you want to be truly cynical, it’s possible that Faulconer is trying to figure out a way to rush through an EIS by making it stadium-only — thus pleasing the Chargers owners’ desire for a quick deal — while maybe figuring out a way to sell the land to the Chargers or somebody on a “we’ll figure out how to let you build on it later” basis. Not that this seems likely to work — Chargers stadium czar Mark Fabiani already called the EIS a “misbegotten scheme” — but at least it makes Faulconer look like he’s doing something, I guess? Not anything that makes sense, mind you, but people do tend to like action even when it’s dumb.