SAN DIEGO—A new Chargers stadium could be closer to reality now that California lawmakers passed a state budget which eliminates a spending cap for redevelopment in downtown San Diego.
"What this move does is ensure billions of dollars that will create tens of thousands of jobs in San Diego," said Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher.
San Diego's City Council had already been looking into the possibility of raising or eliminating the spending cap. However, the state legislature passed a bill last week that removed the limit on how much tax revenue the Centre City Development Corporation can collect. Stadium supports say the spending cap was a big roadblock to financing a downtown Chargers stadium.
"This saves the city a tremendous amount of money in terms of having to provide for studies and definitely get projects going," said Fletcher.
Lifting the spending cap allows CCDC to continue redevelopment for years to come. CCDC officials say they would have hit the cap by 2024.
Skeptics say lifting the spending cap is a way to avoid asking voters if they support spending money on a new stadium. They say the move could create more distrust of local and state government.
"This is a democracy. (Stadium supporters) should not be afraid of putting the half-billion dollar tax increase on the ballot for the Chargers. Let us decide as the public," said Richard Rider, chairman of the San Diego Tax Fighters.
Critics say the public has little say over how the CCDC decides which projects to pursue and how it spends money.
"Nothing changes at all. We still work for the redevelopment agency. We're their agent. The mayor is still the executive director," said Fred Maas, CCDC president. "Every one of the projects will have to go through them. All the allocations will have to go through the redevelopment agency as all the budgets will have to go through the redevelopment agency."
"There should be additional concern, or additional focus, with what could be $3 billion and even $9 billion, which is a lot of money," said Erik Bruvold, president of the National University Institute of Policy Research. "It provides really great opportunities not just to do great things downtown, not just a Chargers stadium."