Rendering of the SDSU innovation district near a new stadium envisioned for Mission Valley / Image courtesy SDSU

The City Council agreed Monday to move along SDSU’s bid to purchase the former Chargers Stadium property to build a new football stadium, river park and mixed-use development known as SDSU West.

The Council told the city attorney to begin drafting a purchase and sale agreement, a lengthy document outlining the terms of an increasingly complex transaction that was approved by voters during last year’s election.

The city attorney’s proposal is expected to reflect the broad strokes of SDSU’s second, increased offer while attempting to address the concerns outlined by the city attorney’s office and the independent budget analyst in reports issued last week, as the Union-Tribune reported at the time.

SDSU and certain councilmembers said they hoped the deal could come back for a Council vote in January, though the city attorney cautioned that the aggressive timeline might not be realistic. SDSU is hoping to move quickly and break ground in March so the stadium can be ready for the start of the 2022 college football season.

Labor’s negotiation: The most significant concern that emerged, for those hoping for a quick and tidy resolution, came from organized labor.

The university would be required to pay prevailing wages for the public development it does, like the stadium, academic buildings or river park. But unions want a deal that would extend pay and benefit terms to workers on all the private development envisioned. That will be about 80 percent of the project. Scott Lewis recently wrote labor’s move and how it represented a critical moment in the deal.

“You’re being asked to accept a bait and switch or a switcharoo, where San Diego voters were promised one thing during the campaign – a project designed and built with the overall needs of the entire community at the forefront – and are now being delivered something very different to the benefit of private developers,” said Gretchen Newsom, political director of IBEW 569.

Some Council members said they hoped labor issues would be considered in final the purchase and sale agreement. Council President Georgette Gomez and others also pushed SDSU to commit to reserving a certain percentage of units in the project to low-income residents.

The Definitive FAQ on the Hotel Tax Measure

In March, city of San Diego residents will vote on a hotel-tax hike to fund a Convention Center expansion, homeless initiatives and road repairs.

The unprecedented business and labor coalition behind the measure is ramping up its campaign after initially struggling to make the ballot. The ballot measure will likely need support from two-thirds of city voters to pass.

Voice of San Diego’s Lisa Halverstadt put together an FAQ on the measure, laying out everything from what the tax measure is supposed to do to what might happen to funds meant for homeless and road repairs if the Convention Center expansion ends up costing more than expected.

Councilman Ward: Into It

Monday the campaign to pass that hotel-room tax increase announced that it got the endorsement of Councilman Chris Ward. He’s been kind of hard to pin down. He was for it but also not for it.

A brief history of Chris Ward and the hotel tax effort:

June 2017: Ward voted against Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s plea to put it on the ballot in November of that year. Faulconer retaliated with budget cuts aimed at Ward’s office.

August 2018: Ward is out of the country and could not call in when the Council considered the mayor’s urgent plea to place the measure on the November 2018 ballot after a dysfunctional effort to collect the needed signatures failed to get an obviously sufficient number of signatures. His vote would have been decisive.

April 2019: With sufficient signatures finally verified, Ward opposed putting the measure on the March 2020 ballot because he believed measures should go on November ballots, according to the spirit of Measure L from 2016.

October 2019: Ward was nevertheless listed as part of the coalition supporting the measure at a press conference. He did not go to the press conference.

Nov. 4, 2019: Ward votes against putting it on the March 2020 ballot.

Monday: He’s into it. “He was consistent in not voting for a March vote but supporting the goals of the measure,” said spokesman Ansermio Jake Estrada.

Say It Ain’t So, Papa Doug

Doug Manchester / Photo by Sam Hodgson

CBS News had a special report Monday morning about why President Trump may have withdrawn the nomination of San Diego developer Doug Manchester to be ambassador to the Bahamas.

The network revealed that, in September, while the U.S. Senate was considering the nomination, the Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel asked Manchester for a $500,000 donation in an email. Manchester wrote back that his wife would give $100,000 and more may come.

“Assuming I get voted out of the [Foreign Relations Committee] on Wednesday to the floor we need you to have the majority leader bring it to a majority vote …Once confirmed, I our [sic] family will respond!” he wrote, cc’ing two senators to make sure they saw.

In a statement to CBS, RNC leaders called it inappropriate and said they have cut ties and returned all of Manchester’s donations for the year. There’s a limit to the transactional behavior they’ll tolerate, obviously.

Go deeper: Web site visits spiked Monday on our 2012 profile of Manchester by former reporter Rob Davis, which remains a classic.

Big Water Agency Offers a Big Deal to the Smaller Big Water Agency

The Metropolitan Water District decided Monday that, after about a year of closed-door negotiations, it would go public with an offer to settle its long legal battle with the San Diego County Water Authority.

Both sides have spent about $20 million each fighting for years about how much the San Diego agency should have to pay Metropolitan to deliver water San Diego bought from Imperial County farmers in a 2003 deal.

Monday, Metropolitan offered San Diego a payment of $72 million and a new price structure for the water: $450 per acre feet. The price would increase according to the Construction Cost Index and not the formula the agency uses for setting the cost of water, which has been the subject of the lawsuits.

“We like the idea of decoupling San Diego from our rates. It removes the incentive to sue us every two years. We think price certainty for San Diego has value to them,” said Jeffrey Kightlinger, the general manager of Metropolitan.

San Diego’s response: It’s not great. “The Water Authority is fully committed to a mutually beneficial settlement, which is why we initially offered a proactive settlement to MWD more than a year ago. MWD’s recent counter offer makes additional progress, but to truly reach an enduring agreement, further discussions must be conducted in an open and transparent manner that moves away from costly legal debates,” wrote Chairman Jim Madaffer.

The problem with that: Kightlinger said the offer was take it or leave it. His board would have to decide whether they wanted to continue discussions or go back to court.

Other News

The Morning Report was written by Maya Srikrishnan, Andrew Keatts, Lisa Halverstadt and edited by Scott Lewis.

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