SoccerCity: An initiative of empty promises?
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — The SoccerCity folks haven’t scored any goals lately. In fact, they’ve been kicked around a bit on several fronts.
Tuesday, an SDSU alumni association voted 28 to one against their initiative and shortly after, the city attorney issued a report to the council saying, "read the initiative carefully because it has seemingly contradictory provisions."
The report goes on to say there is no guarantee that much of what SoccerCity promises will ever come to pass.
The other problem is that the language of the initiative cannot be changed by the mayor or council, so how is this lack of clarity resolved?
Without taking a position, the city attorney’s report said SoccerCity does not guarantee a soccer team, or an NFL stadium, or a river park or several other promises.
Nick Stone of SoccerCity said those will be addressed in the lease SoccerCity has to negotiate with the city to implement the project.
"It’s a legally binding document on us and it will define all the commitments we made to the mayor that go over and above what was in the initiative and will resolve almost all the issues the city attorney was talking about too," Stone said.
What "was" in the initiative. That "was" is troubling to former City Attorney Jan Goldsmith because SoccerCity said the lease is part of the initiative.
"Once it qualifies, which is has, the city council can’t change it, and if it’s passed by the voters they still can’t change it," Goldsmith said.
Negotiations on a lease haven’t begun yet. The city council has to decide by June 19 whether to call a special election in November, and it’s likely they will have to vote without knowing what’s in the lease.
Stone said the council vote is critical for San Diego to get a soccer franchise and have a stadium built by 2020.
"Are they willing to disenfranchise 100,000 people who signed this petition, saying they either want their voice to be heard by the city council directly, or their voice be heard because they’re voting on behalf of this project?" Stone said.
SoccerCity does promise a lease will be ready for the voters to review before the election, if there is an election. But the lease may be a moot point.
"The lease is supposed to reflect what’s in the initiative. Now somebody can come along and say, ‘hey that lease doesn’t reflect what’s in the initiative.’ And they can file a lawsuit, and the chances are pretty good they could win," Goldsmith said.
That’s troubling for the city attorney who has to sign off on any lease, which was not drafted by the city attorney’s office. According to Goldsmith, the lease is a side issue from the initiative, not part of it.
"You can have side agreements over here, side agreements over there with these investors, but a couple of problems with that. Number one: those are not enforceable, Number two: they’re not even legal because you can’t change the initiative," Goldsmith said.
And what would happen if you don’t have a lease signed in time for the voters?
"If there’s no lease, then the land never transfers to us in the first place, so none of this matters," Goldsmith said.
Regardless of these obstacles, Stone said SoccerCity will move forward with its project and will mount an aggressive campaign to get on the ballot in November.