A rendering of the proposed stadium. Petco Park is visible on the far left. Courtesy San Diego Chargers
A rendering of the proposed stadium. Petco Park is visible on the far left. Courtesy San Diego Chargers

A group of civic leaders opposed to the Chargers proposal to build a downtown stadium and convention center annex announced Thursday that they’re lobbying the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce to reject the team’s plans.

Councilman Chris Cate, former San Diego County Taxpayers Association Executive Director Lani Lutar, architect Rob Quigley and Republican campaign finance expert April Boling argued that the hotel room tax increase in the Chargers plan would be one of the largest tax hikes in the city’s history.

Calling themselves the No Downtown Stadium-Jobs and Streets First! committee, they also contend the plan would result in the loss of Comic-Con International, the massive San Diego-based celebration of the popular arts that’s been lured by other cities for years, and is a lower priority than infrastructure. They also said there are better plans for developing the East Village area where the Chargers contemplate locating their stadium.

Last Saturday, the City Clerk’s Office announced that an initiative petition circulated by the team gained enough valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

However, the committee members pointed to a poll taken in April that shows tepid support for the stadium plan.

“The Chargers tax measure is not going to pass in November,” they wrote in a letter to chamber board members.

“While important, public opinion is not the only point to consider when making your decision,” they said. “The Chargers stadium plan threatens our tourism economy and the small businesses that rely on a thriving tourism economy.”

A second group, called Barrios Against Stadiums, announced it would protest Friday outside a luncheon where team officials are scheduled to discuss their plans.

“A stadium, and ensuing entertainment district, so close to Barrio Logan will have a devastating effect on the renting residents and vibrant arts scene that has flourished here in the last two years,” said Brent Beltran, a resident of the neighborhood and leader of the group. “Gentrification is already pushing small businesses and residents out. A stadium one block away will only worsen the situation.”

According to Beltran, who said BASTA plans a silent protest with members holding signs and banners, a stadium close-by will attract more cars, which will worsen the already difficult parking situation in the neighborhood and add to pollution.

The Chargers declined to comment on the formation of the groups. Team officials envision a 61,500-seat stadium that would be paired with new meeting space, a few blocks from the San Diego Convention Center.

The project would be funded by raising the hotel room tax from 10.5 percent, plus a 2 percent fee used for tourism promotion, to 16.5 percent. The Chargers would chip-in $350 million and use a $300 million loan from the National Football League.

Because of a legal skirmish elsewhere in California, it’s likely but not certain that the stadium initiative will require two-thirds support when voters go to the polls this fall.

—City News Service