Wednesday July 15th, 2015

The city of San Diego approved a $2.1 million plan for an environmental study, which was required for citizens to vote on the possibility of building a $1.4 billion stadium for the Chargers.

San Diego’s City Council voted 6-3 on Tuesday to move forward with an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which moves the team one step closer to not moving to Los Angeles.

The city council has until Oct. 15 to approve the EIR for the city to schedule a Jan. 12 public vote because of a California law requiring at least an 88-day time period between an issue being placed on a ballot and a public vote commencing.

The EIR will include traffic studies and other factors that are needed to help get a stadium built. The EIR also described a 68,000-seat stadium that could be expanded to 72,000 seats for a Super Bowl.

“San Diego’s stadium efforts hinge on this vote,” San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer said, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Regardless of what ultimately happens with the NFL, this EIR is valuable to taxpayers.

Falconer appointed a task force that recommended a new stadium be built on the same site as Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley, but the Chargers prefer a site downtown. The Chargers have long maintained that is it impossible for the city to complete a thorough EIR by the deadline, saying that most environmental studies take up to 18 months to finish.

“The city’s quickie EIR will be full of holes and will be thrown out by the courts,” Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani said. “The Chargers will simply not hitch the future of the franchise to the city’s misbegotten legal strategy.”

The $2.1 million EIR includes a $1.2 million payment to consultants Aecom Technology Corporation, $380,000 to cover city staff time, $200,000 for stadium design work and another $320,000 for a contingency fund.

The owners of the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders have already met with Los Angeles and Carson, Calif., officials to discuss possible stadium deals involving both teams.

“The one (strategy) that the NFL seemed highly focused on was an accelerated process that would allow us to be in the position to have a special election—if we came to agreement with the Chargers—in mid-January,” Chris Melvin, the city’s lead stadium negotiator, said. “They encouraged us to move the ball forward.”

NFL executives plan on visiting the city later this month, and the league’s owners will meet on Aug. 10 to discuss possible relocation issues.

- Scooby Axson

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