Is the SDSU Proposal for the Mission Valley Stadium Site at Fair Market Value?

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Opinion by Louis Rodolico

I for one was all for the SDSU West Initiative Measure G on the 2018 city ballot. See https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/ballot_argument_-_yes_on_measure_g_final.pdf

Where SDSU would purchase the Mission Valley Stadium site “at fair market value”. Ballot abstract: “The precise sale price is subject to future negotiation and is currently unknown”.

Union Tribune October 28, 2019: “In an effort to address the city’s biggest concerns, the university is now willing to pay around $87.7 million for 135 acres of land” ($650,000 per acre). See:

https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/business/growth-development/story/2019-10-28/sdsu-improves-offer-for-mission-valley-stadium-site

$650,000 an acre is low since most land in the San Diego City limits goes from 2 million to 4 million an acre. An $850,000 home on a quarter acre lot has a half million dollar land value which pencils out to 2 million per acre. There are million dollar homes with eighth acre lots all over the city, which is about 4 million per acre.

For comparison, there’s the Angel’s Stadium analysis. Voice of Orange County December 18, 2019: “The $325 million starting price tag for Angel Stadium could be low compared to land next to the stadium parking lot that sold for nearly double the per-acre price at ($4.2 million an acre) See:

https://voiceofoc.org/2019/12/is-325-million-starting-price-for-angel-stadium-fair-nearby-land-sales-indicate-differently/

Why is the San Diego Mission Valley land cost for SDSU one sixth the value of land adjacent to Angel’s stadium? For starters; all negotiations were subject to non-disclosure agreements, which invites suspicion and seldom works out well for taxpayers. We saw it with the Regents Road Bridge   https://clairemonttimes.com/universities-unfinished-roads-and-missing-train-station/  and more recently with Pure Water. Pure Water used; non-disclosure agreements and a time pressure hustle much like we are seeing now with the Mission Valley transaction. We ended up with a Pure Water sewer main alignment that benefits; labor, material suppliers and maintenance companies but is a clear cheat for taxpayers and utility customers. See: https://timesofsandiego.com/opinion/2019/03/07/opinion-pure-water-project-stinks-and-added-costs-are-white-collar-crime/

So who is qualified to be at these secret Mission Valley meetings? Lobbyists, environmentalists, local movers/shakers and representatives of the two parties, I suppose. I am hearing “Lou you are speculating” No kidding, with all these secret meetings speculation is what we are left with. There is no empirical verification of what is going on at these meetings. Since most cities were reduced to one major newspaper in the 1980’s there has been less in-depth fourth estate analysis.

I recently filed a Freedom of Information Request concerning the 2019 negotiations whereby I received an outdated 2017 report indicating a 508 million dollar value for the land with deductions bringing the land value down to 74 million. Through mysterious machinations these secret negotiations somehow dropped SDSU’s offer to 14 1/2% of the land value. I can find about 26 million in legitimate deductions for things like stadium demolition (See Chart Link). It’s a repeating pattern in San Diego and other one paper towns; private negotiations directed by influential non-elected lobbyists and money brokers. Resulting in a chronic transfer of wealth driving up municipal debts. Between; Federal, State and Local governments each citizen is $70,000 in debt. Did taxpayers pay all this money for elections and council chambers only to have the people’s business negotiated time and time again in private board rooms?

The biggest CEQA hurdle will be approval for a new stadium, but that hurdle could be mitigated by modifying the existing lower tier of stands. This would accommodate a FIFA 120 yard by 80 yard soccer playing field, avoiding both a CEQA hassle and stadium demolition costs, greening the project. Like the other big money projects we are not getting real time information and often these secret meetings deliver their conclusions/ultimatums when it is too late to act.

Lobbyists and influence peddlers smell the big money that can be wrenched from taxpayers with the stadium transaction. Lobbyists have consistently demonstrated that their money and influence will have the final say. After all Prop B was overturned and Prop A was neutered, will Prop G follow suite? Our elected representatives live in fear of upsetting lobbyists who steer elections. To the bane of taxpayers council succumbs to lobbyist’s hustles and rubber stamps these big money projects.

Like most, I support SDSU developing the Mission Valley Stadium site. With its $290 million endowment SDSU has options and could lease. The city could provide a 17% discount on the land essentially gifting the 30 acre campus green space and its development. It will be one of the most beautiful campuses on the west coast.

SDSU has been a longstanding San Diego partner and there is considerable goodwill. If we are going to satisfy proposition G, and demonstrate that we are a sober democracy, then the land at the Mission Valley Stadium site must be negotiated in the open and, if sold, be at fair market value.

2017 Report:   https://www.voiceofsandiego.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Qualcomm-2017-Appraisal-Davis-FINAL.pdf

Report Chart Link:    http://www.louisrodolico.com/uploads/7/5/2/2/75221087/sdsu-1_orig.jpg

2018 Full Ballot:   https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/november_2018_-_sample_ballot_0.pdf

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