Key City Council Committee Pushes Gloria’s Choice ‘Midway Rising’ Forward

by on September 9, 2022 · 19 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

San Diego City Councilmembers on Land Use and Housing Committee, from L to R, T to B: Vivian Moreno, chair, Joe LaCava, vice-chair, Stephen Whitburn and Chris Cate.

Councilmember LaCava Calls Issues About Midway Rising “Unsubstantiated”

On Thursday, September 8, a key San Diego City Council committee voted unanimously to push forward Mayor Gloria’s choice for the Sports Arena redevelopment, Midway Rising.

The four councilmembers on the Land Use and Housing Committee include Democrats Vivian Moreno (Chair) – who was absent due to maternity leave, Joe LaCava (Vice Chair), and Stephen Whitburn, plus the lone termed-out Republican, Chris Cate.

Upon city staff’s recommendation and over challengers HomeTownSD and Midway Village+, the committee voted to have the proposal for the city to enter an exclusive agreement with Midway Rising brought before the full council for Tuesday, September 13.

LaCava made the motion to accept Midway Rising, after — as reported by Jennifer Van Grove at the Union-Tribune,

“after peppering staff, executives from real estate consultant Jones Lange LaSalle and Midway Rising representatives with a series of questions he characterized as ‘uncomfortable.’ The council member was alluding to media reports and behind-closed-doors conversations suggesting that Zephyr is not capable of building the project’s 2,000 market-rate units, and may not have been forthcoming about past litigation. There was also discussion about allegations related to Chelsea’s labor practices and its treatment of construction workers.

Then LaCava claimed:

“The mayor, the mayor’s office and the consultant JLL have done their job at this stage of the game. Allegations by various resources have been made and found to be unsubstantiated.”

Perhaps LaCava was alluding to the stunning findings of La Prensa — and echoed here at the Rag — or the questions raised by CBS 8. Who knows?

The U-T failed to even mention some criticisms of Midway Rising – such as it being represented by one of Mayor Gloria’s top campaign contributors, principal Brad Termini of Zephyr Development. Termini and his spouse were the largest single contributors to Gloria’s special committee for election; they gave over $100,000.

This mindful crusade to anoint Midway Rising by San Diego’s establishment is just one step closer to being fulfilled. Of course, all those allegations are unsubstantiated!

There were critics at the committee meeting — including the chair of the OB Planning Board, Andrea Schlageter, and the chair of the Uptown Planners Group (and OB Rag writer), Mat Wahlstrom.

Regarding unknowns related to traffic and transit impacts, Andrea Schlageter, remarked during public testimony:

“Obviously there is a singular focus on (affordable housing), which is not the way to build a new development that’s going to be taking up this much space in such a crucial part of San Diego. I really urge the council to take a more holistic approach when deciding what developer (should) go forward, instead of the singular focus the mayor’s office has taken.”

Wahlstrom stated:

“This proposal is worse than 101 Ash Street because it specifically spurns the lessons that we were supposed to learn (from that deal). So the question you need to ask yourself today is, ‘When excrement hits the fan — and it will — what side of it do you want to be on?’”

San Diego’s Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone, as the U-T reported, “tried to shut down criticisms of the Midway Rising principals.”

Goldstone — who was once San Diego’s first-ever chief financial officer appointed in December 2015 by Republican mayor Jerry Sanders, a Gloria intimate — accused opponents and critics of Midway Rising first of being from “the competition,” and then went on a rant:

“For a lucrative development opportunity of this magnitude, I am not surprised about any of these comments or any attempt to disparage the competition.

I’ve heard similar things before on numerous other development transactions I’ve worked on throughout my career. Rarely do they ever pan out.

With that said, any claim or allegation made to staff was followed up and nothing was learned that raised to the level of concern to lead staff to change its recommendation.”

The main public reason city staff chose Midway Rising is because it pledged the most affordable housing. Apparently, the U-T reported, “HomeTownSD from Monarch Group and Midway Village+ from Toll Brothers Housing have tried to boost their numbers in recent weeks and months.

Midway Village+ upped its number of proposed affordable units from 1,610 to 1,780 after the 90-day “good faith” negotiating period. HomeTownSD also sought to add at least 300 more affordable units on top of its submitted total of 1,726 units, but the request came too late, after JLL had finished its work, the city said.

City Council will consider staff recommendations to select Midway Rising to lease and redo the sports arena site on Sept. 13.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Mat Wahlstrom September 9, 2022 at 12:21 pm

For the record, I didn’t identify myself as the chair of Uptown Planners, because I was speaking as an individual not on their behalf. In between those two quotes, here is what I said:

“We’re in a record drought, not just of water but of ethics. And just as our reservoirs keep dropping to reveal bodies in barrels and are in danger of turning into dead pools, so are our institutions. And the malfeasance revealed accelerates every day that we approach a point of no return.

Under our “strong mayor” system, I understand councilmembers are worried about what will happen if they oppose the mayor on anything they aren’t allowed to make a token show of disapproval.

They may think it’s not in their self-interest to act on principle. But the real problem is they’re not self-interested enough. They need to decide if they want to be chained to this mayoralty when it finally sinks beneath the weight of its corruption.”


Frank Gormlie September 9, 2022 at 1:26 pm

Excellent talking points, Mat. I like this: “We’re in a record drought, not just of water but of ethics.”


Mat Wahlstrom September 9, 2022 at 1:34 pm

And with no relief for the latter. Thanks, Editordude.


Pier lover September 10, 2022 at 7:02 am

Vivian was not there. Was 3 to 0 vote.


Frank Gormlie September 10, 2022 at 10:59 am

Thanks for the update. Well, she should’ve been there. It’s obviously a big city-wide issue so by her absence, she doesn’t have to go on the record at this point. Very convenient.


Pier lover September 10, 2022 at 12:24 pm

Maybe it was convenience, she just gave birth.


Frank Gormlie September 10, 2022 at 12:49 pm

If that’s true, then obviously, I was all wrong.


David stjohn September 11, 2022 at 4:44 pm


Maybe I missed something in the original debate or proposals.

Why does the city need to build a stadium or arena? Why didn’t we use the entire lot for housing, including affordable. Isn’t this the major concern? There’s other places for music festivals. Wasn’t there a pot of money from the feds or the state to help a developer?

The horse is way out of the barn, but I just thought I should see if anyone else had the same thought?


Mat Wahlstrom September 12, 2022 at 7:55 am

Many people have said the same thing. But an arena was baked in from the start: “On Sept. 21, the San Diego City Council voted unanimously to declare the Sports Arena site as surplus land under the definition spelled out by the California Department of Housing and Community Development. The declaration also includes a condition that states the ‘future development include renovation or replacement of the city’s current sports arena on the property as a regional entertainment venue and operation of that venue for concerts, sports and other events, consistent with similar arenas in large cities in the United States.'”


Tyler September 12, 2022 at 10:14 am

What was the $ amount given from the other projects/investors to Gloria et al? You can’t just look at the winning bid……you’re hiding context from readers if you do

Gonna be a long few months of this type of content eh?


Frank Gormlie September 12, 2022 at 11:49 am

Go to La Prensa article for details. The link is in one of the posts. Check it out.


Tyler September 12, 2022 at 12:10 pm

I did. No giving data on the other bids listed


Frank Gormlie September 12, 2022 at 1:01 pm

Sorry, I must have misunderstood what you’re looking for. I thought you were looking for other contributions to Gloria’s campaign.


Geoff Page September 12, 2022 at 1:12 pm

Yea, what Frank said.


Geoff Page September 12, 2022 at 12:17 pm

If you plan to challenge someone come with some facts. Instead of asking how much the others donated, why don’t you research it and then make a comment.


Tyler September 12, 2022 at 3:13 pm

It’s an important question that I’ve seen others raise on other media mediums. I have a day (and turns into night) job, which is why I am asking the investigative reporters, because anyone with solid ethics knows you need to paint the full picture and not take a selective segment to fit a narrative. The point is I would be willing to bet the other developers gave donations as well. That doesn’t make it right that “pay to play” is a thing, but it does bring down the nefarious tone when singling one out but not discussing the others


Frank Gormlie September 12, 2022 at 3:20 pm

Tyler, if other redevelopment teams had donated to Gloria, don’t you think the investigative reporters would have found them? We don’t have the resources, typically, to do this kind of investigation, but La Prensa and CBS 8 did. We echo and highlight their findings. What it appears you’re saying is, ‘well, probably the other teams donated too, so anyone who got “caught” was just doing business as usual, so, what’s the big deal?’ The big deal is that Gloria’s top contributor is getting the deal.


Geoff Page September 12, 2022 at 3:44 pm

Frank said what I was going to say, if those other donors were out there, those reporters on this would have seen them. You are being critical of their reporting when it is quite possible they did a thorough job and just neglected to say what other people would assume. Maybe they needed to state the obvious to dispel any suspicions that absolutely anyone might have.


Geoff Page September 12, 2022 at 2:03 pm

Yea, what Frank said.


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