Sports Arena Area to Be Declared ‘Surplus Land’ August 3 to Allow Affordable Housing in New Redevelopment

by on July 20, 2021 · 6 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

On August 3, the City of San Diego will declare the Sports Arena area as surplus land to comply with the state’s Surplus Land Act. This will set off a new, legal process of opening up the bidding for the redevelopment of the 48-acre site.

And for the first time, there is a very real chance the process will require the construction of affordable housing at the Arena tract. Neither Faulconer’s initiative nor Measure E which passed last November required affordable housing to be included.

Declaring the Sports Arena area as surplus land, the first step in starting over in rebidding the project, will then require the city to first offer it to affordable housing developers.

The city had to halt the prior process of requesting and awarding bids initiated by former mayor Kevin Faulconer, as it was determined to be illegal and not in compliance with the Surplus Land Act.

The Act requires local agencies – like governments – to give affordable housing developers, park districts, and public school districts the first crack at buying and developing publicly-owned or agency-owned land declared “surplus” and no longer needed for that agency’s use.

It was In August of 2020 that a Faulconer-selected committee picked Brookfield Properties’ and ASM Global’s proposal to redevelop the property (current Pechanga Arena San Diego). Their plan to transform the arena site was spun as a flashy “modern entertainment venue”, with appropriate housing, new traffic infrastructure and parks getting second shift. No affordable housing was on the table.

Yet, the renewed bidding process may actually change all of that and bring in affordable housing. Councilmember Jen Campbell’s chief of staff Venus Molina was quoted recently on the process. Molina, reflecting her boss’ stance, was very disappointed that the process had to start over. Yet, her view is of interest. Molina said she didn’t think that, “… because of the magnitude of the project, “… an affordable housing developer can take it (project) on by themselves.” She continued:

“Most likely, an affordable housing developer will have to be brought in as a partner with the major developer, which could be the same one. What will likely happen is it will end up as a similar project, but with at least 25% affordable housing included. Obviously, it’s not going to look the same now that we have to include 25% as affordable housing.”

Yet, it will not be “a similar project” with “at least 25% affordable” units as disappointed Molina tellingly muttered, “now that we have to include” the whopping quarter of the total as affordable, darn it!

Molina also said,

“We could do a bid process and have a winning bidder by the end of the year. That’s moving really fast in government time. But hopefully, we can pull that off.”

Quotes from The Peninsula Beacon

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

kh July 20, 2021 at 11:15 am

Much of the opposition to the Midway redevelopment is because of increased density.
The density was prescribed as part of the community plan update.
Removing the height limit (measure E) did not change the zone density.

But… building affordable housing will almost certainly increase the density beyond what’s allowed in the community plan, and may allow it to bypass community input. (not that the city cares about community input anyway)


Geoff Page July 20, 2021 at 4:29 pm

The problem is that there is very little, if any “community” in the Midway area, it consists mainly of businesses and landowners.


Tessa July 20, 2021 at 2:07 pm

In the best of worlds, the height limit will not be exceeded (traffic is already so thick in the area), the arena will come down, and affordable housing will be 100% of what is built on the property.
It would be especially terrific if it could be affordable CO-OP , owner – occupied housing. If this can happen in the Bay area, it can happen here. Here’s hoping Mayor Gloria really steps up and makes a name for himself!


Deb Porter July 20, 2021 at 2:29 pm

RE: “Sports Arena Area to be declared Surplus Land”……… I’m delighted that this has happened. But I am really angry that our District 2 representative , Jen Campbell, had the city destroy the hallowed 30 ft. height limit for her vision of a bigger development.. which neither she nor the city bothered to research before spending many hours, dollars, and changing zoning regs before committing to the illegal development. Why cant this city deal with land development in a professional way???


Susan Baldwin July 21, 2021 at 6:14 pm

My 2 cents on the redevelopment of the Sports Arena site and affordable housing:

Also, we have a neighborhood/community park shortage in addition to a housing shortage, so this city-owned land should also be used to provide park space to meet the needs of the area’s new housing and residents.


Frank Gormlie July 22, 2021 at 9:39 am

Thank you Susan; we did repost your piece from Voice. And you are absolutely right about the lack of park space and the pitiful small amount set aside in the original redevelopment plans by Bridge hopefully finds the circular file.


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