City Attorney to Appeal SoccerCity Court Ruling

Proposed SoccerCity development San Diego

Following a court decision that allowed it proceed to the November ballot, SoccerCity will be the subject of an appeal from San Diego city attorney Mara Elliott

Pitched by FS Investors, SoccerCity is a proposal to redevelop the SDCCU Stadium site in Mission Valley. It calls for a 23,500-seat stadium that would be constructed for an MLS expansion franchise, along with surrounding development. FS Investors would enter into a 99-year lease with the city for 233 acres of property. Both SoccerCity and the competing SDSU West–which proposes a new San Diego State University football stadium and surrounding amenities for the same site–recently fell under a legal challenge from Elliott.

Elliott asked the courts to review both SDSU West and SoccerCity over concerns about their legality. In its argument against the two measures, the city had claimed that if either is approved by voters it would illegally interfere with administrative matters. The two cases were considered separately this month, and both were ultimately rejected by San Diego Superior Court judges, who decided that the initiatives could appear on the November ballot.

However, the San Diego City Council voted by a 5-3 margin on Tuesday to let Elliott to proceed with appeals in both cases. The city is asking for decisions from the court by August 30. More from the San Diego-Union Tribune:

“The Soccer City and SDSU West initiatives essentially force the lease or sale of City assets on terms set by the proponents,” Elliott said in a statement. “By filing writs with the Fourth District Court of Appeal, the City seeks clarity on whether this unprecedented use of the initiative process is legal.”…

The timing, however, requires the Fourth District Court of Appeal to hear the cases on an expedited basis if a decision is to be made ahead of the August deadline for printing the ballots. The state appeals court already denied an emergency petition from the backers of the SoccerCity plan, which was suing to get the rival measure removed from the ballot.

Despite the city attorney’s renewed challenge, both campaigns said they expect to appear on the ballot.

“We are confident the appellate court will uphold the trial court ruling in support of SDSU West,” Friends of SDSU, the booster group backing the ballot measure, said in a statement. “The initiative is consistent with California state law and the San Diego City Charter. The SDSU West initiative was expressly written to give the Mayor and City Council the power to determine terms of an agreement to sell the stadium site.”

Nick Stone, project manager for the SoccerCity proposal, said he, too, is positive that his initiative will prevail.

SoccerCity first surfaced in 2017, serving as one of the major components of San Diego’s MLS expansion bid. FS Investors previously called for a November 2017 referendum for the proposal, but city officials pushed a referendum on the project to 2018. San Diego did not make the slate of four expansion finalists considered by MLS late last year (Nashville, and later Cincinnati were selected from that group), but its bid remains a candidate for the next round of expansion. Should it and SDSU West proceed to the November ballot, the one with the greatest share of the majority will move forward.

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