Mayor Gloria to ‘Fight Like Hell’ to Protect His Legacy Over Sports Arena Redevelopment

by on December 21, 2021 · 1 comment

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

Mayor Todd Gloria has recently pledged to “fight like hell” to save the Sports Arena redevelopment from Judge Bacal’s axe. Bacal just ruled last week that Measure E — which removed the 30-foot height limit in the Midway District — was illegally place on the ballot by the city council because of a lack of environmental review on buildings over 30 feet.

The lawsuit was brought by the nonprofit group, Save Our Access.

Gloria told KPBS:

“The revitalization of the Midway District is critical to the future of our city — not just for a new sports venue, but again, for the provision of housing that is attainable to low- and middle-income San Diegans.”

Now, don’t forget, dear reader, that Measure E contained no guarantees that affordable housing would be built. It’s only now after the state whacked San Diego for not following the law in dealing with surplus public land that “affordable housing” is on the tongue of the mighty pols.

Gloria realized a while ago that the whole Sports Arena redo had a massive potential of securing his legacy for his first term as head executive of the city. It is a huge deal, no matter how one cuts it. So, now he’s fighting like hell to save that legacy. Can you blame him?

With five redevelopment teams panting with anticipation off behind the curtain — all of whom banked their plans and drawings on not having to deal with a 30-foot height limit, Gloria now faces the taunting task of picking up the pieces of the plan after Bacal overturned the table. Gloria has ordered city staff and the city attorney’s office to proceed on a two-track strategy:

First, staff will prepare an environmental impact report – the one that Judge Bacal said was missing. This is a fairly logical step. It’s hoped by Gloria et al the additional analysis will allow the City is take a public re-vote on the measure in 2022 should it become necessary.

Second, the City is moving to appeal the ruling, which some say is likely to take well over a year. Gloria said:

“While I’m optimistic about the City’s chances of winning on appeal, given all that’s at stake and the length of the appeals process, it’s worth it to make absolutely certain this Midway revitalization stays on track.”

Gloria also said he’s the champion of the popular vote. “My obligation is to fulfill the will of the people, and San Diegans voted by a sizable margin to eliminate the 30-foot coastal height limit in the Midway planning area.” Never mind that the voters of the Midway and most of District 2 voted against the measure.

Also, no one mentions in their righteous criticism of the state of the Midway and how “dilapidated” it has become and obviously in need of redevelopment, that the City did that. The city through decades of neglect, allowed the Midway and the surrounding blocks of mega-stores, warehouses and low-brow businesses to come to dominate.

No one disagrees that something must be done. And those who advocate for affordable housing see in this redo of the potential for at least a quarter of all new housing to be affordable. That’s the law, San Diego. But why can’t it be 30%, or 45%? Aren’t we as a city in dire straits in need of housing that people can afford? Why not, heaven forbid, 50%?

It can’t just be all about profits, can it? We don’t have a housing crisis – there’s plenty of housing out there; we have an affordable housing crisis. Why does this all turn on how much profit development companies have to make? Housing is a right. Why does the city have to guarantee certain levels of profit in order for developers to step forward and create thousands of new units, 75% of which will not be affordable?

It takes politicians to pave the way for the big guys –  you know, the developer class. And politicians thrive on legacies – especially those that are tangible – those that you can see, like tall buildings between Point Loma and Mission Bay. (Faulconer indeed had trouble stabilizing his legacies here.) So, Gloria has invested in this massive project, and his own legacy is on the line.



{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mat Wahlstrom December 21, 2021 at 5:20 pm

Of course he’s going to “fight like hell” on behalf of the only constituency that matters to him: his campaign donors. He has the example made of Faulconer if he doesn’t deliver on their investment.


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