SoccerCity: A dagger poised to strike the heart of San Diego

By Joe LaCava

Mission Valley is the heart of San Diego. Proximity to nearly everything, facilitated by easy access to San Diego’s key transportation corridors, has long made Mission Valley an attractive place to live, work and play.

Unfortunately, that may change if the proposed SoccerCity development moves forward. This massive mixed-use development – which is about soccer in name only – would dramatically and permanently alter the Mission Valley residents have come to know and love.

The group behind the SoccerCity project, FS Investors, proposed it by citizen’s initiative to take advantage of a loophole in state law that bypasses public and environmental review. As a result, no real studies have been performed on how the project will impact traffic, the environment and the community character. FS Investors alleges to have studied some of these impacts. However, much the analysis they performed is based on faulty assumptions that deviate from standard methodologies for measuring impacts.

This is most apparent looking at the anticipated traffic impacts of SoccerCity, which could more aptly be known as “TrafficCity,” for the perpetual gridlock that it will create throughout Mission Valley and surrounding communities. The traffic study FS prepared found the project will generate more than 71,000 average daily trips, twice as much traffic as Chargers game day, every single day. However, a peer review of this analysis found the FS study actually underestimated traffic impacts by more than 35 percent – as if two-times game-day traffic wasn’t bad enough! Adding insult to injury, FS is not required to construct a single major traffic improvement. Instead, residents of Mission Valley, Serra Mesa and other nearby communities will be condemned to sit in hours of traffic with no relief in sight.

When it comes down to it, SoccerCity is nothing more than a land grab at the public’s expense, causing unspeakable damage to Mission Valley. The Qualcomm site is one of our most valuable public assets in San Diego. Redevelopment of this site is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our city.

With the initiative process, the City Council has only two choices: approve the initiative outright or place it on the ballot for a vote. At the onset, FS Investors didn’t even want a public vote; they wanted a quick and quiet approval by City Council. But when opponents started raising questions, they pivoted and tried to rush their plan forward with an unnecessary and costly special election this year.

Refusing to approve such a flawed and rushed plan, the council voted last month to place the initiative on the next general election ballot in November 2018, respecting the will of the voters, who overwhelmingly approved a measure last fall to have ballot measures only on November general elections. Even more importantly for Mission Valley, a 2018 vote allows time for the city to solicit competing plans for use of this land. Unfortunately, FS is continuing to fight the City Council and push for a special election, so we won’t have time to fully understand the project’s many flaws and potentially harmful impacts.

Please let the City Council know you support an open and competitive process for this public property to fully understand all of the potential impacts. The city has one chance to get this right. We need to find a project that’s good for all San Diegans, not just for the investors proposing it. If we don’t, the results will be devastating for the Mission Valley community and the city of San Diego.

—Joe LaCava is the leader of Public Land, Public Vote and is a former Chair of the San Diego Community Planners Committee.

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