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Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009 | With all due respect to still-evolving communities like Escondido, Chula Vista and Oceanside whose civic leaders are allowed to think beyond an election cycle, it’s time for the city of San Diego to re-engage with the Chargers on a new stadium.

Let me state, I am not a football fan — haven’t been to a game in over 10 years. Personally, I’d rather have new Central Library.

Sadly, city of San Diego leaders have fallen into the analysis-paralysis trap set for them by the “not-with-my-taxes” crowd of civil stay-at-homes and taxpayer watchdog groups. They spend no money — on anything. The constant re-prioritizing of important civic projects has delivered us NO important civic projects. Pitting special interests of one against special interests of another means nothing particularly special gets done around San Diego these days.

Of course, this plays right into the hands of some. Would we really be giving the finest remaining public land on San Diego Bay to a greedy, litigious developer whose previous construction has all but walled off the harbor if we had the kind of leadership the could build consensus as it serves the public?

The people of the city of San Diego own the largest parcel now housing an NFL team in the country. Qualcomm Stadium enjoys excellent centrality to a multinational fan base, superb freeway and surface street ingress plus an enviable trolley stop especially designed to handle thousands of game-day visitors. Its future is grim. About to be fallowed or at best, relegated to the region’s favorite spot for mega-used-car-tent-sales and RV shows where the collection of city sales taxes is dubious at best; sidelining it as an NFL site is tantamount to signing us up for another ho-hum massive development, maybe with a park. Yawn.

Stubborn behavior by a previous City Attorney and a prudent “hands off our wallet” warning from Mayor Sanders, torpedoed the redevelopment of the site before real solutions could be found. The Chargers are not blameless in the failed attempt — having been consistent in just one area over their decades as a football franchise: bottom of the league community and public relations. (Praise be to Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders for assuring the Chargers aren’t dead last in this contest.)

In reopening discussions with Mission Valley residents’ groups, developers and team officials, the city may discover that severely depressed real estate values and the expected crash of commercial real estate could provide a mutually favorable re-start atmosphere. Smart timing could make the residential/commercial/retail components of the site viable as the general health of the economy rebounds over the next 5 to 10 years.

Similarly, extracting clean-up costs from the cash-rich oil interests that operate the infamous, leaky tank farm near the stadium may never be better than they are today.

If San Diegans have learned nothing from our 40-year frustration in airport relocation, we should know that to site any major facility in a new spot is virtually impossible. Constituencies rise up, neighbors bellyache about property values, and somebody’s ox is eventually gored. Who needs it.

Why not work to keep the Chargers where logic dictates and where they really belong – the city of San Diego. Besides, who can get their mind around the “Escondido-Oceanside Chargers” or the “City of Industry Chargers?” Really?

I don’t think so.

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