San Diego

City of San Diego Seeking Legal Help From Carlsbad To Defeat Stadium Initiatives

A staff report shows the city of San Diego wants to pay the Carlsbad City Attorney’s office $5,000 to fight two citizen-initiatives for the former home of the San Diego Chargers.

While the fate of the former Chargers stadium property is still unknown, the city of San Diego is for now focused on defeating two ballot measures that would allow voters to decide how the 166-acre property will be developed. 

The city of San Diego plans to challenge both citizen initiatives in court and for legal representation in those lawsuits, the City Attorney’s office is looking north. 

According to a staff report issued last month, the San Diego City Attorney's office states it is seeking the Carlsbad City Attorney’s office to represent City Clerk Elizabeth Maland, a defendant listed in the lawsuit. 

The city cannot represent Maland since it is bringing forward the lawsuits, in an effort to prevent Maland from putting the initiatives on the November ballot. The report states San Diego intends to pay Carlsbad $5,000 if the city agrees to represent Maland. 

San Diego’s City Attorney has said development decisions related to city-owned land rest with the mayor and council, not voters. 

Both measures propose tearing down the stadium site to make room for housing, retail, and parkland but also have major differences. 

The San Diego River Park and SoccerCity Initiative would tear down the stadium to make room for a sports entertainment district, which would include housing, retail shops, a river park, and a new stadium for a Major League Soccer team. 

The competing initiative, known as SDSU West, would also demolish the stadium but instead of an entertainment district, it would add extension buildings for San Diego State University, additional housing, and a stadium for either a football or a soccer team.  

San Diego’s City Clerk is required to put citizen initiatives on the November ballot that collect enough valid signatures to qualify. Both proposals have met that requirement. 

In April, the city of San Diego filed petitions to prevent the measures from going to voters and now, the city hopes Carlsbad’s City Attorney will represent them in court. 

Gerry Braun, the Chief of Staff for San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott, told NBC 7 by email that the Carlsbad City Attorney’s office was chosen as the lead candidate to represent the city in court after other law firms were considered. 

When asked if the city of San Diego was saving money by looking to hire the Carlsbad City Attorney’s office for representation, Braun replied, “Yes.” 

Kristina Ray, a spokesperson for the city of Carlsbad, confirmed the city had been approached by San Diego but that no final decision has been made. 

“We don’t have an agreement,” Ray said in an email. “According to our city attorney, cities often assist each other in procedural matters like this where their city attorney can’t represent their own clerk. However, I am not sure we are going to assist with this one.”

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