Two downtown initiatives go head-to-head in public forum

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — The Downtown Partnership Thursday held the first public forum on the competing ballot initiatives for a new downtown Chargers stadium.

Fred Maas represented the Chargers Initiative and Attorney Cory Briggs defended his competing Citizens’ Plan for San Diego.

The best chance, mayor the only chance of getting a stadium, is to have these competing initiatives somehow merge or have one withdraw.

From Thursday’s discussion at the U.S. Grant Hotel, that is not going to happen.

The Citizens’ Plan will turn in signatures to the city clerk in 13 days, April 27.

Cory Briggs said that deadline will be met.

"From a Citizens’ Plan perspective we intend to run a very vigorous, very honest, very honorable campaign. We’re not hostile toward the Chargers," Briggs said.

Each of these plans will have to be sold to the public and both sides dismiss the notion that competing plans will confuse the voters.

The Chargers will run an equally vigorous campaign, but admit a single initiative certainly would have a better chance of passing.

"I think the answer would be yes, neither of us are delusional about that, but that’s not the cards that we were dealt," Maas said.

So, we’re headed down two parallel tracks and they’re not likely to merge.

Basically, the two plans rely on increasing the hotel tax.

The Citizens’ Plan is a 5 percent increase, 4 percent for tourism marketing and a convention annex at Tailgate Park and 1 percent to the city treasury.

No money for a stadium.

"Chargers if you want to build in conjunction with a convention center, no problem there’s just one condition you gotta bring a checkbook, you won’t get the publics’ checkbook," Briggs said.

The Chargers initiative is a 6 percent increase, 2 percent to tourism related activities and 4 percent for the stadium and Convention Center space.

Their vision is a complex that will attract visitors and events throughout the year, saying the notion that somehow this is not "Petco Park 2," is just wrong.

"In order to accomplish I think what we all want for downtown is going to take something big of this magnitude, create the kind of resources and dollars to solve so many problems we care about," Briggs added.

Although there is much about these plans the public still doesn’t know, it’s a long way to November.

This forum was the beginning of the public discussion to inform the voters.

"I wasn’t quite sure of this when I started down this road, it turns out that we we’re right, we’re having that public conversation now," Briggs said.

"Ultimately you have to make your case and it needs to be reasonable to get people to support it and so we’ve worked very hard with groups around the community and tried to come up with the best proposal that we could," Briggs added.

David Malmuth, in the center seat, pushed the East Village People’s Plan for an innovation center without a stadium. Fred Maas called that an indictment against the Chargers. Maas said what Malmuth was really saying is this: "send the Chargers back in Los Angeles."

The wild card in this competition is Mayor Kevin Faulconer. His support will help one plan and likely kill the other. We’re told he will take a position, but not before the June primary.

Categories: Local San Diego News