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When San Diego voters open their November ballots, they will see two ballot measures, each hoping for a chance to redevelop the Mission Valley stadium site — 200 acres of prime real estate in the heart of the city.
Much has been said about Measure E, the SoccerCity initiative, and Measure G, the SDSU West initiative, and the competing visions. Measure E would build another shopping mall in Mission Valley. Measure G would enable San Diego State University — one of our region’s oldest and most trusted institutions — to expand and thrive.
I have been a vocal supporter of Measure G, but I’m certainly not alone. A recent San Diego Union-Tribune/10News poll found that 57 percent of likely voters support Measure G, compared with 32 percent that support Measure E. That’s underscored by the thousands of San Diegans who have endorsed Measure G over the past few months — from elected officials at the local, state and federal levels to diverse interest groups ranging from the Sierra Club to the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, not to mention a half-dozen SDSU alumni organizations.
The proponents of Measure E don’t have much to hang their hat on. The public has seen through their distraction of a possible professional soccer franchise and realized what Measure E really is — a blank check from taxpayers to the developers behind the initiative. With their support rapidly declining, Measure E backers’ only hope is to take down both initiatives, which is why, two weeks out from Election Day, they’re focused on unfairly defaming one person, a campaign volunteer who has been a forward-thinking leader in our community for decades — Jack McGrory.
During my time on City Council, I experienced firsthand McGrory’s can-do attitude, strong leadership, community-first focus and ability to work with all sides on even the most complex issues. Since his time as city manager, McGrory helped reinvigorate the City Heights neighborhood, brought Teach for America to San Diego, headed SDSU’s Campanile Foundation and was recently named as a California State University System trustee by Gov. Jerry Brown. These are only a few of the many transformative, positive accomplishments McGrory has achieved for our region.
The trouble for Measure E backers is that Measure G is not about one person. Measure G is not a deal with McGrory, the Friends of SDSU Steering Committee or any one person. Measure G is about securing the future of our city with a sale of the stadium property — at fair market value — to San Diego State University, a regional economic driver for more than 120 years.
Any suggestion that Measure G is anything but a vehicle help SDSU acquire the land it needs to meet increasing student demand is untrue. Measure G is the only initiative that will enable SDSU to grow and flourish for generations to come. It outlines a concise set of conditions for development of the site, and establishes a framework through which the city can negotiate a purchase and sales agreement with SDSU. By placing the city in control of the sales agreement, Measure G requires public input and ensures development of the site that is in the best interest of the community.
It is critical that San Diego voters see the recent personal attacks for what they really are — a last-ditch attempt to line the pockets of a select few hedge fund guys at the cost of one of our city’s prized assets. A deal with FS Investors is simply a deal with a group of Wall Street speculators who are looking for a windfall profit at the expense of higher education.
San Diegans deserve a deal that benefits all San Diegans — me, you, my children, your grandchildren and our friends, family and neighbors — for generations to come. Measure G is the right choice to start this legacy — not tomorrow, next year or down the road. Measure G can help us build the foundation for this legacy today.
I ask you to support Measure G. Our shared future depends on it. Vote “Yes on G” — “Si en G!”
Juan Vargas represents California’s 51st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.