One of the highest profile questions San Diego voters will be asked this election is what to do with the huge piece of prime city-owned property in Mission Valley.
As soon as the Chargers left, the next question was naturally what to do with the aging stadium now sitting empty most of the year, and costing the city millions of dollars to maintain.
Two plans have emerged, each through a citizens initiative, and each looking very similar to the other. In fact, it can be difficult for voters to really grasp the differences between Measures E and Measure G so NBC 7 is breaking them down.
First is Measure E, the SoccerCity plan backed by private developers. This measure would control the development of around 250 acres in Mission Valley as well the old Chargers practice facility in Murphy Canyon. Under SoccerCity, most of the land would be leased to the developers for 99 years. They would have the option to buy the roughly 80 acres of property where the stadium sits at what is considered fair market value.
Then there is Measure G, the SDSU West plan. This option came later in the game after it became clear San Diego State University and SoccerCity could not agree on a plan. SDSU West is backed by the university. In this option, the University would purchase almost the entire Mission Valley property from the city.
Here’s where it gets a little tricky. Both sides have made a lot of promises. And both sides accuse the other of not being truthful with voters. Rather than sort through the "they said, they said," NBC 7 will direct you to a recent debate between both sides moderated by the Voice of San Diego.
How Are They Similar?
Both promise a stadium that could be used for college football and a professional soccer team. Both promise new housing, office space and a river park. And, both plans claim that no taxpayer money would be used.
How Are They Different?
When it comes to funding, SoccerCity has said its plan will be fully funded by the developers with no taxpayer dollars. SDSU West has said it will pay for the project through public-private partnerships, revenue from the site, and donations.
Second, the plans for the area around the stadium would differ. SoccerCity has made an entertainment district one of its key selling points, comparing the project to what’s been done in Los Angeles. SDSU West has focused its pitch to voters more on an extension of the campus including what it calls an Innovation District.
Both sides acknowledge the need for SDSU to expand eventually. The disagreement seems to be on when, where and how that expansion should happen.
Now for the River Park, a promise made by both plans, and one according to the San Diego River Park Foundation, critical for any redevelopment of Mission Valley.
"We really want to make sure we create a place where we can go down and see the river, experience the river, and love the river,” said the foundation’s President Rob Hutsel.
One of the biggest differences between the two sides plan for a park is, once again, money. SoccerCity has pledged to pay to build the river park and pay yearly to maintain it. SDSU West's plan does not say specifically who would pay to build or maintain a park. The plan does state no general fund money would be used and the University has publically stated it would build and maintain a river park.
Hutsel said the lack of a specific plan is one reason the foundation voted to stay neutral on the SDSU West plan, rather than endorse it. The foundation voted to oppose SoccerCity mainly because the board would like to see more public input.
“We still need a connection to our historic river and this is one of the best opportunities we’ll have to do it,” said Hutsel.
While there are several more similarities and differences between the two plans, one big thing they have in common is that according to the city attorney neither plan actually guarantees any development. You can read the city attorney’s analysis here on both Measure E and Measure G.
Where Does That Leave Voters?
You have several options: You can choose one plan over another. You can vote yes on both. Or you could vote no on both.
If both plans get more than 50% of the vote, the plan with the most votes wins. If neither reaches that threshold, it’s back to the drawing board, a concept familiar to San Diego voters.