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Officials continued today to take baby steps in the long waltz that has been the Chargers’ push for a new football stadium, announcing a plan to study the possibility of forming a joint government agency between the city and county of San Diego.

Elected officials from both municipalities announced today their hope to investigate the possibility of forming a joint powers authority, a governmental organization that would be created among a number of local entities to deal specifically with stadium construction, taxing, redevelopment and other stadium-related issues. The county and city formed a similar authority to aid construction of what is now Qualcomm Stadium in the 1960s.

Present at the announcement were Mayor Jerry Sanders, City Attorney Mike Aguirre, Council President Scott Peters, and Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Ron Roberts. They billed the proposal as a historic sign of unity between the two governments, although it is simply a preliminary step.

A joint powers authority, officials said, would allow the city and county to negotiate as one entity, and give them the ability to more easily deal with converting certain areas into redevelopment zones – a move that would allow local governments to corral more tax dollars from the mixed-use development that is expected to accompany a stadium.

The team is free to begin negotiating with cities outside of San Diego County come Jan. 1, and could technically relocate as soon as Jan. 1, 2008. The city bowed out of the Chargers’ game in May after an agreement on a proposal at the existing Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley fell through.

However, today’s announcement showed that city officials haven’t given up on building a new Chargers stadium even as efforts to draw the team to National City and Chula Vista have heated up.

Sanders said the joint powers authority, if eventually formed, could include other cities such as the two South Bay suitors. “In fact, I want to congratulate National City and Chula Vista for their efforts to date. They have acted professionally, in the best interests of the region and their respective cities.”

The City Council and the Board of Supervisors are slated to approve a memorandum of understanding on Sept. 26 that would formalize their intent to study the idea of a joint powers authority.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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