SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The best chance for San Diego to reach an agreement with the Chargers to keep the National Football League franchise in town will be for NFL owners to postpone a vote on whether to move a team to Los Angeles, Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani said Thursday.
Fabiani was interviewed on KPBS-FM (89.5) one day after he and the Chargers were publicly taken to task by Mayor Kevin Faulconer, county Supervisor Ron Roberts and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith for rejecting a series of proposals on environmental studies.
The Chargers released a statement Tuesday that said it would be impossible to put a legally defensible measure before voters under the city's suggested timeline.
NFL owners are scheduled to meet in August, and could vote on a move anytime from then on. A team that wants to relocate needs affirmative votes from 24 of the 32 owners.
"Obviously, we're out of time for 2015, and if the NFL owners in their judgment decide to move ahead with Los Angeles in 2015, then no, it's hard to see how anything can happen," Fabiani said.
"If, on the other hand, for whatever reason, a Los Angeles decision was delayed by NFL owners for another year -- which is certainly possible, it may not be likely, but it's certainly possible -- then, of course, you have another year to work on it."
The Chargers have been demanding a new playing facility for years to replace aging Qualcomm Stadium. At the same time, the NFL has been aiming to get a team back into the massive Los Angeles market as soon as the 2016 season.
The owner of the St. Louis Rams has plans to build a stadium in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood, which prompted the Chargers and Oakland Raiders to propose jointly building a facility in nearby Carson.
Goldsmith, also interviewed on the radio station, accused the Chargers of using provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act as a "smokescreen" to hide a business decision to move north, where the franchise would become far more valuable.
Goldsmith said they're replacing a stadium with a slightly smaller facility, so the impacts are already known.
"I don't think we have a CEQA problem, I think we have a Chargers problem," Goldsmith said. "And I respect the fact that the Spanos family gets to make a business decision. I don't get to make that decision for them, but don't use CEQA as an excuse."
Goldsmith said recent negotiation sessions have centered on environmental issues, not on how to build a stadium or how to pay for it.
City officials Wednesday proposed a timeline that would have the environmental report published by Oct. 1.
That would lead to a public vote by Jan. 12. Both the city and Chargers have called for any final agreement to be ratified by the public, even though funding sources recommended by a mayoral advisory group do not include tax increases.
Fabiani said the "half-baked" condensed timeline proposed by the city would open the project to lawsuits, which the city and team would likely lose.
Later, mayoral spokesman Matt Awbrey said if the Chargers don't like "the multiple legally sound proposals" that have been offered, the city and county would welcome their alternatives.
"Unfortunately in response to San Diego's good faith solutions, they have only offered personal attacks, criticisms and excuses while they continue to work on their L.A. plan," Awbrey said.
"As we prepare to speak directly with the NFL we hope that cooler heads will prevail."
Awbrey listed the city's accomplishments on the stadium front, including selecting a site, joining forces with the county, hiring "nationally recognized experts," releasing a timeline for a special election and starting the environmental analysis.
"Actions speak louder than words, and the results speak for themselves," Awbrey said.