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Tiny city eyes the Chargers

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Aug 2, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    By Chris Norby
    2:00 a.m. August 2, 2009

    Can a city with 88 voters really steal a National Football League team from a city of 1.3 million people? That's what the City of Industry may do to San Diego. Or maybe the NFL is just using Industry to scare San Diego taxpayers into doling out more public money to keep the Chargers. Either way, San Diegans should be concerned.

    The NFL shakedown is a pretty familiar dance. Perfectly good stadiums built to last 100 years are suddenly described as antiquated. The team owners tell local elected officials to build them a new one or lose the team to another city. Fan loyalty and community ties count for nothing. Only in Green Bay are fans allowed to own shares in the team, so they know the Packers will never leave. Every other team is only a season away from bolting to another city with a higher public subsidy.

    But the dance is getting tiresome. Previous shakedowns have failed to relocate a team to the Los Angeles-Orange County area. Los Angeles, Anaheim, Carson and Pasadena all refused to pony up the kind of public cash the NFL demanded. Few shed any tears when the Raiders and Rams left for Oakland and St. Louis back in 1990s
    After all, the Southland still has USC and UCLA football. The Trojans and Bruins will never leave. They don't demand new stadiums or luxury boxes. In fact, USC has offered to buy the Coliseum outright, providing the state with hard cash.

    NFL promoters are now looking at the City of Industry, located in Southeast Los Angeles County just north of the Orange County line. Hugging a narrow corridor along the Pomona Freeway (state Route 60) Industry has a tightly controlled electorate of only 88 registered voters. None of its City Council members have ever been elected, as seats are given only to reliable insiders and relatives when incumbents die or resign.

    Industry prohibits new housing and keeps out new residents. It pays $1 million annually to Sacramento lobbyists for exemptions from state laws requiring a balanced general plan, inclusionary zoning and low income housing.

    A current Industry legislative ploy would allow a 40-year extension of its redevelopment agency, siphoning millions more in property taxes from Los Angeles County's general fund. “They're able to find a mechanism to provide infrastructure for an NFL stadium, but they aren't able to find a mechanism to fund nutrition for a hungry child,” bemoans L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, a vocal critic of the scheme that San Diego legislators should have a special reason to block.

    Most of Industry's housing is owned by the city and occupied by City Council members and staff – and their extended families. The city is made up of factories and shopping centers, and has an annual per-capita sales tax revenue of $42,380, compared to the statewide average of just $149. (San Diego's is $175).

    To learn more, read “City of Industry: Genealogies of Power” by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo professor Victor Valle. The in-depth exposé will be released this month by Rutgers University Press.

    In January, Industry passed a $500 million bond to help build a new NFL stadium at the junction of the state Routes 60 and 57. The vote was 60-1, not surprising since most of the electorate work for the city or are closely related to those who do. One of the targeted teams is the Chargers.

    Can 60 voters really steal a team away from a city of 1.3 million?

    The nearby city of Walnut is suing to stop the stadium, as the proposed site is already a notorious freeway bottleneck. Some cities are being offered cash for their support, while others are hopeful of spillover benefits that will never materialize.

    Reputable studies show sports franchises produce no net economic benefits. Read “Jobs, Sports and Taxes” by Stanford economist Roger Noll. An NFL game diverts 80,000 locals who would have otherwise spent the same money at the golf course, Home Depot or elsewhere. Pro stadiums are economic losers for all but a tiny cadre of team owners, players and developers.

    A pro football team can offer intangible benefits, such as community pride, loyalty and tradition. The Chargers have plenty of that now. Will L.A. and Orange County fans embrace a team so blatantly stolen from another city? Those 60 Industry voters may control a lot of public cash, but money alone can't buy fan loyalty.

    Norby is a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

  2. cranberry

    cranberry BoltTalker

    Oct 3, 2006
    • Like Like x 1
  3. gobolts_charger

    gobolts_charger BoltTalker

    Aug 6, 2006
  4. Sydalish

    Sydalish Addicted to Sports

    Nov 11, 2007

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