A local news organization is suing San Diego State University, claiming that the school has refused to disclose records involving its plans to redevelop SDCCU Stadium, with particular focus on whether the project will necessitate raising student tuition and/or fees.
According to the suit filed Friday in San Diego County Superior Court, Voice of San Diego has unsuccessfully sought records for four months regarding plans to convert the stadium into SDSU West, a 35,000-seat stadium site also featuring a river park, classrooms, hotels, retail stores, and 90 acres of open space.
Promoters have publicly maintained that the project — which was approved last November by about 54 percent of voters — would not require raising student tuition or fees.
Voice of San Diego claims stadium backers have repeatedly refused to release any documents detailing the “expense, time and resources required to secure and develop the Mission Valley stadium site.”
Tuesday night, SDSU officials said the university has, in recent months, “provided a full and complete response to the Voice of San Diego, including a significant number of documents related to its retained expert consultants, as required by the California Public Records Act.”
But in a statement, SDSU said it must balance its commitment to transparency with legal restrictions as it pertains to proprietary documents.
“With time, SDSU anticipates that significant amounts of information and documents related to the Mission Valley site plan, including financial models, bond issuances and the land plan, will be released through public meetings and hearings, including those to be held by the Board of Trustees of the California State University.”
The school noted a website where it shares updates via on the SDSU Mission Valley site.
SDSU said it spent $1.575 million on consultants and partners between January 2017 and October 2018 toward a comprehensive site plan and extensive strategy for Mission Valley.
“No state appropriation, tuition and student fee dollars were used to support this investment,” the school said. “These costs are budgeted as part of the full pre-development cost which will ultimately be paid for through revenue generated by the site.”
Construction will begin by 2020, SDSU said Tuesday.
We’re Suing SDSU for Records to Shed Light on Mission Valley Plans https://t.co/t4IHx861yM
— Ry Rivard (@ryrivard) February 20, 2019
In response to a series of public records requests the news outlet made beginning last September, the university hired a law firm that argued against releasing the information publicly, citing attorney-client privilege.
The suit states that what little information the plaintiff was able to extract via the California Public Records Act was redacted in many places and “withheld the substance of the requests.”
Voice alleges that while SDSU West supporters “presented the scope of the project to over 115 groups” during the public outreach process, they offered “little information about what lies under the hood.”
Supporters maintain the stadium project will also not result in any new taxes on San Diego city residents, and that it will add to the estimated $5.67 billion annual economic impact that the school has on the region.
Updated at 8 p.m. Feb. 19, 2019
— City News Service contributed to this report.
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