Lawyer wants restart of EIR for proposed stadium

Posted at 5:43 PM, Sep 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-28 20:43:22-04

A Los Angeles-area lawyer wants the city of San Diego to completely restart its environmental study of a proposed stadium project in Mission Valley, according to documents made available to City News Service

The demand from attorney Douglas Carstens of Hermosa Beach was among public comments submitted Friday regarding a draft environmental impact report compiled for the project, designed to replace aging Qualcomm Stadium and keep the Chargers from leaving for Los Angeles.

Friday was the deadline for the public to comment on the draft EIR. A total of 18 submissions were received -- many offering technical remarks and questions, but some were critical regarding the document.

"EIRs typically generate a wide range of comments so we expected to see a broad spectrum of responses," said Craig Gustafson, a spokesman for San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. "After 45 days of public review, the city received fewer than 20 comments, which included supportive letters from local agencies as well as feedback from a Los Angeles area law firm."

Carstens wrote that "extensive deficiencies" pervade the draft EIR, including "a vague and unstable" project description and a failure to analyze, disclose and resolve many environmental impacts.

He said the city needs to restart the entire environmental process.

That falls in line with a statement made earlier this month by Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani, who said the team would not resume negotiations with the city and county of San Diego unless the EIR was redone from scratch.

The team broke off talks in June over the city's faster-than-usual timeline for conducting the study, which Fabiani said would result in a document that cannot stand up to legal scrutiny.

In another comment, Dan McClellan said the study shows that 920,000 cubic yards of polluted dirt would have to be removed from the 166-acre property where the project would be located, which would necessitate 57,500
truck trips.

McClellan, a sportswriter who supports locating a new stadium downtown, also submitted a consultant's study that said the draft EIR overestimated the amount of parking that would be available and the number of fans who would use public transit.

Also regarding public transportation, Metropolitan Transit System CEO Paul Jablonski submitted a comment in which he said he hoped that the public would still have access to free parking spaces near the stadium trolley station on non-game days, and that trolley service wouldn't be interrupted if and when Qualcomm Stadium is demolished.

Jablonski also pointed out that the walking distance from the station to a new stadium would more than quadruple. He said that would bring some positives, however, in that it would provide more passenger queuing space after large events, and open room for transit-friendly development.

The Chargers have been seeking a new facility for 15 years and have acquired land in Carson, in Los Angeles County, to possibly construct a stadium jointly with the Oakland Raiders.

The owner of the St. Louis Rams also has plans to build a stadium in Inglewood, near the Los Angeles International Airport.

NFL owners are scheduled to meet next week to discuss the issue, and a decision on which and how many teams -- if any -- will be allowed to move could happen by the end of this year.

Gustafson said city planners will review the comments and, if necessary, make updates to the draft EIR. City officials will spend the next several weeks preparing a final EIR to be ready should the Chargers resume good-faith negotiations, he said.