Now I will step further into the dark side.

On the Chargers The San Diego Chargers have achieved a major accomplishment — albeit perhaps inadvertently. By traveling up and down coastal San Diego to find a new location, they have enlisted the support of many throughout the region, including the cities of Oceanside, Chula Vista and National City.

Why can’t they turn that support — and the public and private monies that go with it — into a regional funding pool to enable these cities to help to bear the costs, and the eventual benefits, of a new Charger stadium wherever it is located? A special district or other funding mechanism could take in the revenues, and pay back in the form of shared property taxes, sales taxes, fee assessments, etc.

I am still not certain why all of this Charger stadium discussion can’t take us back to the Qualcomm site: Given the alternatives, it is still the most central, best suited location by almost every land-use standard. And if the cost of a new stadium is to be partially offset by private development, where else in the region can sufficient high density development be achieved? I, for one, am not prepared to give up on Qualcomm as the eventual best site just because there are personality disputes.

Response commentary this morning suggests — as people often do — that providing tools to encourage density, solve for lower cost housing and help to pay for more infrastructure somehow “encourages” development. I have never bought this, because it is sort of like blaming a dentist for a patient’s toothache. Here’s why:

Most of our future growth will be “natural,” which is to say that a great number of people will be born here than are dying. So we can’t really stop it, even if we wanted to!

To stay economically viable, a region must encourage quality employment. New employment brings people.

And there is not an equal correlation between our lack of infrastructure and increased population. Even when you don’t consider the old infrastructure which would need patching and replacing regardless if not one additional person moved here, it has been almost 30 years (remember Proposition 13?) since the region has adequately funded roads and sewers, etc.

We have no choice but to better accommodate the growth. But we do have a civic responsibility to ask growth to improve our systems. Here’s an idea:

When polls ask people what the biggest quality of life issues are in San Diego, the overwhelming response is traffic congestion. We don’t have enough roads, and they are not wide enough. I have long, and firmly, believed that most of the answer does not lie in building more. Here are two solutions:

Technology: rather than mass transit being the solution, I am putting my bet on the ability of personal vehicles traveling 60 mph bumper-to-bumper through sensing devices. The newest cruise controls on autos have the first generation of sensing devices already installed, and

Toll roads: the concept of “freeway” is outdated. Let’s use sensing devices in our autos traveling on our big roads to track those vehicles traveling turning the heaviest commute times — 6-9 in the morning and 4-7 in the evening — and charge for the privilege. Then, let’s use those same sensing devices to pay back travelers who are commuting during off hours. Make it a revenue ‘neutral system.

Let’s ask our biggest regional employers — who have been given a free pass so far from the growth and infrastructure debates — to help address the issue. Charge them a hefty business licensing fee — unless 60 percent of their employees can come to work during these off hours. Also, give them some other incentive if they can prove that most of their employees live near by and don’t actually commute.

A little creativity can go a long way.


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