By Joe LaCava
Mission Valley is the heart of San Diego. Proximity to nearly everything, facilitated by easy access to San Diego’s key transportation corridors, has long made Mission Valley an attractive place to live, work and play.
Unfortunately, that may change if the proposed SoccerCity development moves forward. This massive, mixed-use development — which is about soccer in name only — would dramatically and permanently alter the Mission Valley that residents have come to know and love.
The group behind the SoccerCity project, FS Investors, proposed it by citizen’s initiative to take advantage of a loophole in state law that bypasses public and environmental review. As a result, no real studies have been performed on how the project will impact traffic, the environment and the community character.
FS Investors alleges to have studied some of these impacts. However, much the analysis they performed is based on faulty assumptions that deviate from standard methodologies for measuring impacts.
This is most apparent when looking at the anticipated traffic impacts of SoccerCity, which could more aptly be known as “TrafficCity,” for the perpetual gridlock that it will create throughout Mission Valley and its surrounding communities. The traffic study FS prepared found the project would generate more than 71,000 average daily trips — twice as much traffic as a Chargers game day — every single day. However, a peer review of this analysis found the FS study actually underestimated traffic impacts by more than 35 percent; as if two-times game day traffic wasn’t bad enough!
Adding insult to injury, FS is not required to construct a single major traffic improvement. Instead, residents of Mission Valley, Serra Mesa and other nearby communities will be condemned to sit in hours of traffic with no relief in sight.
When it comes down to it, SoccerCity is nothing more than a land grab at the public’s expense, causing unspeakable damage to Mission Valley. The Qualcomm site is one of our most valuable public assets in San Diego. Redevelopment of this site is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our city.
The City Council will decide what’s next for the SoccerCity project at a hearing on Monday, June 19. At that hearing, the council can either approve the initiative outright or place it on the ballot for a vote.
At the onset, the FS Investors didn’t want a public vote; they wanted a quiet approval by the City Council. But when opponents started raising questions, they pivoted and are now trying to rush their plan forward with an unnecessary and costly special election this year, so we don’t have time to fully understand the project’s many flaws and potentially harmful impacts.
On the other hand, the Public Land, Public Vote Coalition is asking the City Council to place it on the next general election ballot in November 2018 for two reasons: first, doing so respects the decision of the voters, who overwhelmingly approved a measure last fall directing the City Council to only schedule ballot measures for the next November general election; second, and even more importantly for Mission Valley, scheduling the vote for 2018 would allow time for the city to solicit competing plans for use of this land.
The city has one chance to get this right otherwise we will be forced to live with the consequences for the next 100 years. We need to advance a project that’s good for all San Diegans, not just for the investors proposing it. If we don’t, the results could be devastating for the Mission Valley community and the city of San Diego.
If you agree, please speak up. Visit PublicLandPublicVote.com and RSVP to attend the City Council hearing on Monday, June 19.
—Joe LaCava is the leader of Public Land, Public Vote and is a former chair of the San Diego Community Planners Committee.