Lawsuit claims City Council’s approval of Padres’ Tailgate Park project violated multiple laws


A nonprofit group represented by attorney Cory Briggs is suing the City of San Diego and the development arm of the San Diego Padres over a downtown development plan approved by the city council last month.

The Open Government Project lawsuit alleges that the city’s approval of the East Village Quarter project violated several city and state laws.

He’s asking a judge to issue an injunction to stop further work on the $1.5 billion residential development at Tailgate Park until the city complies with those rules.

The lawsuit, filed last week in San Diego Superior Court, said the deal was illegal because no environmental impact report was prepared before the board’s vote, which the lawsuit said was required. under the California Environmental Quality Act.

He also claims the city agreed to sell the property for less than fair market value and failed to convene a public planning commission hearing before the development was presented to council.

“Defendant’s conduct in approving the Project without complying with CEQA and other applicable laws constitutes a detrimental abuse of authority,” the legal complaint states.

The city “did not proceed in the manner required by law and made findings unsupported by substantial evidence,” it adds.

The city attorney’s office declined to discuss the claims made in the lawsuit.

“Our office will have no comment on this ongoing litigation,” Leslie Wolf Branscomb, spokeswoman for City Attorney Mara Elliott, wrote in an email.

The Padres, who are partnered with New York’s Tishman Speyer and Los Angeles’ Ascendant Capital Partners on the East Village Quarter project, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The city council voted 8-1 on April 19 to approve the project despite questions surrounding the development and the $35.1 million sale price for the 5.25 acres of public property. Councilwoman Vivian Moreno was the sole opponent.

The agreement calls for the Padres and its partners to build 1,800 apartments and 50,000 square feet of retail space on the four-block parcel just east of Petco Park.

The East Village neighborhood, which consists of four towers up to 500 feet tall, also includes a public park and a 1,200-space parking lot to replace lost surface space.

The development site is bounded by 12th and Imperial Avenues and 14th and K Streets.

In approving the project, the majority of council welcomed the affordable housing that would be included: 180 apartments with rents capped at 60% of the region’s median income and another 90 units with rents capped at 150% of the AMI.

“There is no higher priority in our city than solving our homelessness crisis,” Councilman Stephen Whitburn said at the time.

Moreno said the city should do more to promote affordable housing, especially on public lands like Tailgate Park.

“We cannot say, on the one hand, that affordable housing is a top priority for us in the city and, on the other hand, not seize the opportunity to build 100% affordable homes on a site controlled by the city,” she said last month.

Under state law that governs excess public ownership, the required number of affordable housing units would have increased to a minimum of 25% had the council waited until January to consider the deal.

Before council approved the East Village Quarter proposal, several affordable housing advocates urged the city to demand that the developer add more rent-restricted units to the plan.

The Open Government Project lawsuit also called into question the sale price of the public parking lot that generated millions of dollars in revenue for San Diego taxpayers.

The 5.25 acres were valued at $76 million by an independent appraiser, but were reduced to $35.1 million based on a $42 million credit for the cost of replacing the 1,200 spaces parking.

“Defendant is selling Tailgate Park for less than fair market value and thereby donating public funds,” the complaint states.

In addition to the injunction request and the judicial finding that the laws were not followed, the lawsuit seeks attorney fees and court costs incurred by the plaintiff.

The case was assigned to Superior Court Judge Matthew C. Braner. No hearings have yet been scheduled.


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