Qualcomm Stadium: The political battle over surplus property

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — What is surplus land and who decides? That’s the next fight that’s brewing between the mayor and city council and it will go on for another two months.

This is a political battle over who determines what land is surplus. In other words, land that is no longer of use to the city.

It began with four Democrat councilmembers wanting the full council to declare the Qualcomm property as surplus land, even though it’s been valued at $110 million.

One of those councilmembers is David Alvarez. He said the mayor previously stated all you have there is an old stadium and a parking lot. Thus, Alvarez said, it’s surplus property.

"I think that that’s already been determined by the Mayor and his statements in the past that there’s no use for the site and so therefore this is surplus land and now the council needs to act on the Mayor’s declaration on that," Councilmember Alvarez said.

The mayor’s office has never used the term surplus property, saying the land has great value to the city.

" … common sense tells you this is an important and valuable piece of property. It’s not surplus," Mayor Faulconer said. 

Designating this as surplus would bring the land, and SoccerCity’s development initiative under state law. That puts the initiative, which the mayor supports, in jeopardy because public agencies, including nonprofits, schools and affordable housing get the first opportunity to purchase or lease the land, leaving SoccerCity way down on the list.

"In state law and council policy, it says that we need to go through this process, as should have occurred from the beginning and unfortunately did not occur because the mayor chose not to," Councilmember Alvarez said.

Why are we having this fight? Councilmember Scott Sherman, who was not part of the letter, said this is political payback.

"I think these four councilmembers who voted to not fund the special election, tried to stop the vote from happening, put it off to a meaningless vote in 2018. They’re now trying to get back at the Mayor. I mean you saw there’s blatant electioneering and campaigning going on in this memo," Councilmember Sherman said.

Sherman also sees San Diego State joining the political game.

"There is a play from San Diego State to try and have this declared surplus property because then state agencies have a chance to have a crack at getting that piece of property first," Councilmember Sherman added.

Councilmember Alvarez said the back-room deals that created SoccerCity is the reason for this fight.

"It would have gotten settled if the mayor had not engaged in back-room deals with FS Investors in the course of last several years, and instead been more forthright with the public the way the law states it should have been," he said.

"We’ll see what the council is actually gonna say when they have their discussions but I’ve been very clear its not surplus property," Mayor Faulconer said.

The council will discuss this issue and take a vote on July 25. 

Categories: SoccerCity Proposal