Saturday, October 09, 2010

Nathan Fletcher in the dark of night gets stealth stadium deal into California's budget

In the Dark of Night
Voice of San Diego
Randy Dotinga
October 9, 2010

Should law be patched together in the middle of the night when hardly anyone is watching? Sacramento seems to think so: in a last-minute move that sent local eyebrows skyward, the state legislature slipped a bill into budget negotiations Thursday night that would pave the way for San Diego's downtown redevelopment agency to more easily pay to build a downtown football stadium.

This is hardly a case of simple bureaucracy at work. As we report, the mayor's promised "transparent process" over this issue is now history, and the effect of the deal on the city's day-to-day budget is unknown, just as voters begin considering boosting their sales taxes to bail out the city. On top of all that, "the deal was done in stunning secrecy."

The assemblyman who spearheaded the deal defends his move, saying it's a big job creator, but acknowledges that the county wasn't thrilled about the idea. County supervisors issued statements, with one saying the deal could actually spell trouble for the stadium.

Also: the city attorney says a public vote on the stadium won't be necessary if only redevelopment funds are used to build it. The city's head of redevelopment says this deal will save the city money.

Fletcher: Bill About Jobs, Not Chargers
October 8, 2010
by Liam Dillon

Republican state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher said the word "no" a lot when we spoke on the phone about the last-minute deal that removes a major financial hurdle to the city building a new Chargers stadium downtown.

Fletcher authored a provision introduced and approved in last night's state budget that lifts San Diego's downtown redevelopment cap, a necessary step before the city could build a new Chargers stadium using public money.

Was this bill something you required to support the state budget? No, he said.

Was this bill done to build a Chargers stadium? "Not exclusively, no," Fletcher said.

Fletcher emphasized that lifting the downtown redevelopment agency's cap would affect hundreds of projects, not just a football stadium. He did say a football stadium was the most high-profile effort now being discussed. He said he had been in contact with the Chargers in the last week, along with other stakeholders.

Is this deal similar to the 2009 one the city of Industry received, and Fletcher opposed, to help build a potential football stadium there? No, he said. That was an environmental waiver specific to the stadium, he said. This action affects lots more, Fletcher said.

"It's like comparing apples to carburetors," he said.

Instead, he said, this was all about jobs. Fletcher released a fact sheet saying it would create 110,000 permanent and temporary jobs.

But not everyone's happy. San Diego County, for one.

"The county expressed their opposition to this," Fletcher said.

County leaders had been meeting with city officials to discuss increasing the cap and potential financing for a stadium. In June, the city hired a consultant to examine the need for further redevelopment downtown. The $500,000 study was expected to take 18 months and City Council members had praised it as a public process.

This deal ends both of those things.

Fletcher conceded the process wasn't pretty.

"We can have a long debate on the process," he said. "There's probably fair criticism. I criticize the legislative process frequently, but at the end of the day what we're focused on is the product and the results. If we have the opportunity to take action to get tens of thousands of San Diegans working again, we had to do it."

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