New lawsuit could threaten fate of a massive redevelopment of the city's Sports Arena site
Dorian Hargrove, Rocio De La Fe, September 2, 2022
Group says the city failed to properly vet the environmental impacts that boosting building heights will have in the Midway District.
DIEGO —San Diego has been hit with another lawsuit challenging its decision to raise the height limit in the Midway District. This, just days before a city council committee will decide whether to select a developer to redevelop the San Diego Sports Arena.
The lawsuit from Save Our Access says the city didn't properly vet the environmental impacts of removing the 30-foot height limit in the Midway District.
The lawsuit is identical to another lawsuit that the same group filed against the city in 2020 after voters approved raising the height limit in the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Plan area. The city eventually lost and was forced to do away with removing the height limit and its victory at the ballot box.
In December of last year, the judge in that case ruled that the city failed to conduct "a tiered [Environmental Impact Report]...to consider the impact of the Ordinance on the environment."
The city is now appealing the judge's decision.
Meanwhile, the group's attorney Everett DeLano III said the city is repeating history and once again looks to pass a ballot measure that would raise the height limit, all while using the same environmental study that the judge struck down a few months earlier.
"It is remarkable that the city would try to rely upon the prior [environmental study] when it lost that same argument just earlier this year," said DeLano.
In a July 2022 letter, DeLano accused the city of using a "bury-your-head-in-the-sand approach" to raising the height limit.
The newly filed lawsuit comes as a city council committee is set to decide whether to go with Mayor Todd Gloria's pick to redevelop the Sports Arena.
The development from Midway Rising will bring 4,250 new housing units, 2,250 of which will be set aside for low, very low, and moderate-income families. The plan will also bring a 16,000-seat arena, 250,000 square feet of retail, and a 200-room hotel.
In regard to the lawsuit, director of communications for the Mayor's Office, Rachel Laing, called the group out of step with San Diego residents. Laing told CBS 8, "This group obviously recognizes they’re woefully out of step with most San Diegans, who see the revitalization of the Midway neighborhood as a prime opportunity to create much-needed affordable housing. It’s unfortunate but not surprising that they are resorting to efforts to block the measure from appearing on the ballot, because they know it will prevail with the electorate again. We’re confident in the thorough environmental review conducted by city planners and hope the judge will see through this desperate attempt to thwart the will of the voters.”