Gov. Brown supports expedited legal review for new Chargers stad - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Gov. Brown supports expedited legal review for new Chargers stadium

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Thursday that Gov. Jerry Brown's decision that a proposed Mission Valley stadium project qualifies for expedited legal reviews is "a big step forward for the plan."

The Chargers, however, contend the governor's action is irrelevant.

If ratified by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, the governor's determination will require that any legal challenge to the Environmental Impact Report on the stadium project be resolved within about nine months of the city's certification of the record of proceedings.

See related story: [Lawyers want city to restart EIR for new Chargers stadium]

The mayor said that will keep the project on track for a 2019 opening.

"This gives our Mission Valley project more certainty and momentum," Faulconer said.

"I thank the governor for supporting our efforts to create a state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly and Super Bowl-ready stadium," the mayor said. "I also appreciate the efforts of Speaker (Toni) Atkins, who was instrumental in the Capitol."

The Chargers have been asking for about 15 years for a replacement for aging Qualcomm Stadium, and city officials determined the current Mission Valley site was the best location.

The team, however, objected to an environmental study that was completed much faster than usual, contending that it won't stand up to legal scrutiny.

Among other things, Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani said the governor's action doesn't change the fact that the EIR is "fatally flawed" legally, nor does it protect the project against challenges on issues not involving the California Environmental Quality Act.

It also doesn't include the time the state Supreme Court might need to review a legal challenge, Fabiani said. According to the mayor's office, an EIR challenge rarely reaches the state's highest court.

Separately, a citizen's initiative was announced today that would raise San Diego's hotel room tax to 15.5 percent, permit hotel property owners to assess themselves to fund an expansion of the convention center, and allow for 
construction of a downtown stadium in conjunction with the expansion project. It would also clear the way for a project to turn over the Qualcomm Stadium property to university and park uses, subject to approval by the City Council.

"In talking to folks, what became clear pretty quickly is that all of those things are intricately connected to one another," lawyer Cory Briggs told reporters. "What we did is we took all the moving parts and put them 
together in a way that gives all of the backers a really strong incentive to do the right thing."

The initiative would be aimed for the June 2016 ballot, according to its supporters, who are associated with Briggs and San Diegans For Open Government.

He said a 21-day review period for the initiative will begin Friday, and when that's over, they'll have until mid-January to collect their goal of around 75,000 valid signatures to qualify it for the primary election.

The convention center expansion project has been stalled since a court ruling that the hotel owners couldn't add a charge to their room taxes to pay for the project without a public vote. The proposed initiative would resolve 
that issue, but would preclude what tourism officials want the most, an expansion of the center that would keep all the exhibit space together.

Briggs said no one gets all of what they want, but maybe 80 percent. The initiative includes no public money for the Chargers, but the cost of a stadium component of a convention center expansion would be less than that of a 
stand-along stadium, according to Briggs.

Fabiani said he has no comment on Briggs' plan because he hasn't read the ballot measure's language. A group called the San Diego Stadium Coalition gave the plan its backing and put up $50,000 to start the signature-gathering 

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