Republican state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher said the word “no” a lot when we spoke on the phone about the last-minute deal that removes a major financial hurdle to the city building a new Chargers stadium downtown.
Fletcher authored a provision introduced and approved in last night’s state budget that lifts San Diego’s downtown redevelopment cap, a necessary step before the city could build a new Chargers stadium using public money.
Was this bill something you required to support the state budget? No, he said.
Was this bill done to build a Chargers stadium? “Not exclusively, no,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher emphasized that lifting the downtown redevelopment agency’s cap would affect hundreds of projects, not just a football stadium. He did say a football stadium was the most high-profile effort now being discussed. He said he had been in contact with the Chargers in the last week, along with other stakeholders.
Is this deal similar to the 2009 one the city of Industry received, and Fletcher opposed, to help build a potential football stadium there? No, he said. That was an environmental waiver specific to the stadium, he said. This action affects lots more, Fletcher said.
“It’s like comparing apples to carburetors,” he said.
Instead, he said, this was all about jobs. Fletcher released a fact sheet saying it would create 110,000 permanent and temporary jobs.
But not everyone’s happy. San Diego County, for one.
“The county expressed their opposition to this,” Fletcher said.
County leaders had been meeting with city officials to discuss increasing the cap and potential financing for a stadium. In June, the city hired a consultant to examine the need for further redevelopment downtown. The $500,000 study was expected to take 18 months and City Council members had praised it as a public process.
This deal ends both of those things.
Fletcher conceded the process wasn’t pretty.
“We can have a long debate on the process,” he said. “There’s probably fair criticism. I criticize the legislative process frequently, but at the end of the day what we’re focused on is the product and the results. If we have the opportunity to take action to get tens of thousands of San Diegans working again, we had to do it.”
Please contact Liam Dillon directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.550.5663 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/dillonliam.