San Diego

Measures E, G Highlight Trend of Letting Voters Decide Massive Land Deals

The fate of the old Chargers stadium has dogged politicians and tempted developers, and now it is in the voters’ hands.

But as the Soccer City and SDSU West initiative campaigns battle for control of the Mission Valley plot of land valued between $73 million and $110 million, we asked if it’s common for voters to decide massive land deals like this.

“It used to be very unusual,” said University of San Diego Law School property law specialist Mary Jo Wiggins.

Wiggins explained now kicking these decisions to the voters is becoming a trend.

“It gives average, everyday people an opportunity to have a voice through a vote,” Wiggins said.

And both sides are working hard to capture that vote.

Between Soccer City’s main campaign arm in support of Measure E and Friends of SDSU in support of Measure G, the two have spent well over $5 million on this ballot measure fight, according to campaign finance documents.

Soccer City outspent Friends of SDSU four to one through the end of September.

If approved, Measure G would sell 132 acres of the Mission Valley stadium area from the city to SDSU or any SDSU affiliate.

If Measure E passes, the city would be able to lease 233 acres of the Mission Valley stadium land to Soccer City.

“Soccer City is a win-win for everybody,” said Nick Merritt, a SDSU student and co-founder of Aztecs for Soccer City. “Because let’s be honest, Qualcomm Stadium’s an eyesore and nobody wants to look at it anymore.”

SDSU West spokesperson Katy Temple called the land “invaluable” and said developing part of it for the benefit of San Diego State would have a lasting impact.

“Our goals are very simple. To expand San Diego State through an open and transparent process to benefit the economy for generations to come,” Temple said.

But Wiggins argues when it comes to major decisions like this, what’s popular or flashy isn’t always what’s best.

“That's why we elect people. We elect people to read these reports, take testimony, put in all the factors and weigh it,” he said.

But even if both measures fail, momentum is key.

“It might give [either side] the opportunity to go to the politicians and say, ‘Look, the voters spoke and my measure got more votes,’” Wiggins said.

And with less than two weeks to go, neither side is backing down.

“San Diego State wants that land,” said Temple, “It’s an invaluable time, it’s invaluable land. They have said that they’re still going to try to get that land.”

“It’d be really disappointing for me and the rest of San Diego if nothing happened,” said Merritt.

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