San Diego officials willing to put stadium deal before voters

San Diego officials are willing to put a proposed NFL stadium deal before the voters

Even as San Diego tries to catch up with Carson and Inglewood to build a stadium to keep the Chargers, Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Thursday he will not follow the strategy being used in those cities to avoid a public vote.

In a news conference to announce a partnership between the city and county governments, Faulconer restated his position that San Diegans will be given a chance to vote on any stadium project -- even if that vote is not required by law.

In Inglewood and Carson, city officials have encouraged citizen initiatives that would bring a stadium issue to the respective city councils. The council could then approve the project without submitting it to voters. That strategy could also bypass much of the lengthy environmental review process required by state law.

Faulconer indicated that allowing San Diego voters to have a say is mandatory in his view.

But on the issue of the environmental review, under the California Environmental Quality Act, San Diego officials are looking to the state Legislature for help in streamlining the process and keeping it from being vulnerable to multiple lawsuits.

The Legislature provided that kind of help for prospective NFL stadiums in the City of Industry and downtown Los Angeles -- projects that foundered for lack of a team eager to relocate.

City Atty. Jan Goldsmith and county Supervisor Ron Roberts said that talks have begun with Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) about having the Legislature assist San Diego as it for the two other sites.

Inglewood is being eyed by the owner of the St. Louis Rams as a place to relocate his team. The Chargers and Oakland Raiders have announced plans to build a joint-use stadium in Carson. In Carson, the petition-passing campaign has been funded by the Chargers.

The full scope of the partnership between the city and county governments is yet to be determined.

But for openers, each has agreed to kick in up to $250,000 to hire lawyers, consultants and investment bankers to work with the city’s stadium advisory committee, which is set to announce its financing plan May 20.

After that, the lawyers, et al, will be part of “the negotiations that are clearly coming with the San Diego Chargers,” Roberts said.

Chargers President Dean Spanos has said the team prefers to remain in San Diego. But speculation is rife in San Diego that Spanos has already decided to relocate the team -- either to Carson with the Raiders or as a tenant in a stadium in Inglewood -- and is only pretending to be interested in remaining in San Diego.

Faulconer sidestepped a question about whether he agrees with an editorial in the U-T San Diego newspaper that Spanos has not been dealing with the city in good faith.

“Positive momentum is building for a fair and responsible stadium plan,” he said.

Twitter: @LATsandiego

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