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Lawsuit filed to kick SDSU West stadium proposal off the November ballot

Discussion in 'All Other San Diego Sports' started by RaiderRay, Apr 18, 2018.

  1. RaiderRay

    RaiderRay RIP SD Chargers...Go Padres, Gulls, Ducks, Raiders Staff Member Administrator Podcaster

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    I don't know about you guys but I'm all for privately funded SoccerCity.

    http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com...nt/sd-fi-sdsuwest-lawsuit-20180418-story.html

    Backers of the SoccerCity proposal to redevelop the former Qualcomm stadium site filed a lawsuit Wednesday in hopes of kicking off the ballot the rival SDSU West initiative, which it claims violates state law.

    Filed in San Diego Superior Court, the suit claims the SDSU West proposal and the group backing it, Friends of SDSU, misused the San Diego State University name and earned a place on the ballot by “cynically tricking voters into signing the petition.”

    The lawsuit alleges Friends of SDSU have led San Diegans to believe that the SDSU West proposal has been sanctioned by the university and violates the provisions of California’s Education Code, Government Code and Elections Code by using the SDSU name for private development.

    The lawsuit is the latest salvo in an initiative battle that promises to get even more contentious in the months leading up to the November election.

    Backers of the SDSU West proposal turned in signatures from about 100,000 petitioners to the San Diego City Clerk in January, and the San Diego City Council on March 12 agreed to put the initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot.

    The SoccerCity initiative, backed by La Jolla-based FS Investors, had been put on the ballot earlier. Both measures seek to redevelop the former Chargers stadium site but offer up different plans for the development of a new sports facility.

    Whichever measure receives the most votes — provided it exceeds 50 percent — will win the rights to negotiate with the city to redevelop the 51-year-old stadium and the 166 acres of property surrounding it.

    If neither proposal wins a majority, the future of the site will be put in the hands of the city. The mayor’s office would then craft a proposal to go before the City Council.

    “The law is very clear that a private initiative, private development group like Friends of SDSU cannot misappropriate a name that belongs to the people of the state of California by law, and use it to advance a ballot proposal that is really a private development,” said Michael Attanasio, the attorney who filed the suit on the behalf of Carrie Taylor and David Dunbar.

    Attanasio said Taylor and Dunbar are two registered voters in San Diego and supporters of the SoccerCity initiative “who care deeply that there be a fair playing field for the resolution” of the two competing proposals on the November ballot.

    The suit also names as defendants the San Diego City Clerk, the Registrar of Voters and the City Council but Attanasio said they were mentioned because “that’s required by law when you’re going to challenge an initiative that’s headed for the ballot” but said his clients are not looking for any monetary damages from the city.

    “We don’t seek anything from them except that the ballot be properly administered,” Attanasio said.

    The suit was filed after 3 p.m., and the Union-Tribune is seeking comment from the Friends of SDSU and others targeted in the legal action.

    The lawsuit claims that signers of the petition have been given the “false impression” that San Diego State has formally endorsed the SDSU West proposal and that as a one of 23 campuses that make up the California State University (CSU) system, the SDSU name is property of the state and cannot be used without permission of the trustees of the CSU system.

    Attanasio said the suit is about the use of the San Diego State University name “for something called SDSU West that is not sponsored, not endorsed, is not owned by SDSU. You cannot do that, anymore than you or I could go open up an SDSU pizza shop on Montezuma Mesa and start selling pizzas.”

    The legal filing echoes complaints from City Councilman Scott Sherman, who sent a memo on March 22 to City Attorney Mara Elliott asking for a legal opinion on the use of the SDSU name. In that memo, Sherman specifically asked Elliott whether the initiative's use of the SDSU name in its title could violate the state education code and could the city be at risk of violating state law by placing the measure on the ballot. Elliott has yet to offer a legal opinion.

    The suit also mentions two members of the campus support group backing the SDSU West measure — retired housing developer Steve Doyle and former city manager Jack McGrory, who recently was appointed to the CSU board of trustees.

    While the text of the suit singles out McGrory, alleging that “as a proponent of the initiative, he is improperly using the name SDSU,” Attanasio said the lawsuit is not “about (McGrory) or any one individual. It’s about the Friends of SDSU using that name.”

    The SDSU West plan for the former Qualcomm site calls for constructing a 35,000-seat stadium that could be expanded by 20,000 seats to accommodate an NFL team. SoccerCity proposes a 23,500-seat soccer stadium that could be enlarged for SDSU football games.

    Both measures also envision housing and commercial development, along with a public park along the San Diego River in Mission Valley.
     

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