Special Report: SoccerCity - Is development plan more about land - KUSI News - San Diego, CA

Special Report: SoccerCity - Is development plan more about land than soccer?

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Special Report: 'SoccerCity' land grab Special Report: 'SoccerCity' land grab

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Is San Diego going to get a Major League Soccer franchise? If the answer is no — and there's a good chance it could be no — what will happen to the most valuable piece of land the city owns at Qualcomm?

If the city council adopts FS Investors "SoccerCity" ballot initiative in June, the La Jolla Group would again gain control of the 166-acre site.

Major League Soccer this fall will announce four cities that will get expansion teams. We know Sacramento and Miami will be two of them. And there are three out of 10 other cities that already have stadium proposals on track.

"We're gonna be at the back on the line and I would say our chances of getting a franchise are probably less than 10 percent," said San Diego Attorney Bob Ottilie.

Ottilie has been engaged in civic affairs for 30 plus years. He said SoccerCity is not about soccer, it's about development.

Related Link: Investors propose $1 billion redevelopment project for Qualcomm Stadium, including football and soccer fields

"They don't think they're gonna get a franchise. They don't want anybody else competing for a franchise.They just want to do a development deal, and why not? That asset is worth $500 million and in their proposal they could actually end up paying nothing," Ottilie said.

The SoccerCity plan will go before council in June. Whatever the council decides, to either adopt it or send it to the voters in 2018, under the initiative, the La Jolla Group maintains development rights.

"They don't have to build the soccer stadium, but they get all the land and all the development rights. It's more like a developer 'land-grab plan' as I would call it," Ottilie said.

Ballot measures cede the planning process to developers. Ottilie said development planning should go through community planning groups and the city council. That's why we have master plans.

Related Link: Haney Hong on SoccerCity plans

"Once you start letting developers plan development of the city they're gonna financially rape our taxpayers. It is absolutely wrong, but they're going to keep doing it until the leadership says this is wrong," Ottilie said.

Past examples of development bear this out.

"Even when we negotiate with the developer, we've always done poorly. We're gonna do much worse if we let them set the terms by a ballot measure," Ottilie said.

He cites Fairbanks Ranch and Belmont Park that never paid rent. And the Chargers ticket guarantee. Ottilie is calling on the mayor and council to kill this deal.

"What we really need is Mayor Faulconer to step forward and say, 'Folks this is not a soccer plan, this a development and this isn't how we do development,'" Ottilie said.

When you subtract all of the credits from what the developer will pay for 79 acres of land, the tab is about $10,000. 

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