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Roundtable Talks Stadium Details, Zoo Funds, Minimum Wage

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April 1, 2016 1:02 p.m.

Stadium Details, Zoo Funds, Minimum Wage


Mark Sauer


Roger Showley, business reporter, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Lisa Halverstadt, reporter, Voice of San Diego

Chris Jennewein, editor and publisher, Times of San Diego

Related Story: Roundtable Talks Stadium Details, Zoo Funds, Minimum Wage


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

The Chargers officially unveiled their plan for new Stadium/convention center expansion downtown but there are problems. Buildings in Balboa Park are in dire need for Perry at the park's largest tenant this year was flush with cash and not much into sharing. Legislature passed an increase in the state minimum wage in record time. San Diego voters waltzed away and [Indiscernible] I'm Mark Sauer and that KPBS roundtable starts now. 

Welcome to our discussion of the week's top stories I'm Mark Sauer. In joining me at the KPBS roundtable where are development reporter with the same vigor hygrometer. Good to have you back. Report a lease or have us that the voice. And Chris Jennewein publisher of the Times of San Diego. Hi Chris. 

Like have you back. The Chargers Bazemore than a few hurdles that there can get a Stadium and convention center him Pynchon felt downtown. Even if voters agree it wouldn't eight years or more before the team would actually play a game in the new facility. Roger let's start with this plan. Was made official in the socially the week before. Inactivating out there before voters. 

The road is a long one and it will take a lot of convincing to get voters to approve this plan for November. Their issuing an initiative in the newspaper, 13 pages of very small type you will read. To get all the details. As we start to look at the initiative it's full of questions because there's a lot of details that are in their. Can run it? Was cannot pay for it? All that is left in legal gobbledygook. 

As we said at the open. We talked up is that previous shows. This is a condominium. [ Laughter ] Let's get Scott credit. It's a convention Stadium. And the whole thing is $1.8 billion. Was the pay for all this? The taxpayers? Now.

The taxpayers paper towels are going to have four cents to the current hotel tax. Covers citywide the old version of this was a tiered approach. This time it's all city hotels. Charge their guests that a amount of money. That's going to cover about $1 billion for the Stadium and 600 million for the convention center. I don't like to call it a Canadian. And $200 million for the removal of the bus yard which is in the way of this project. 

Printed to those details in your story this week. In the Chargers and the NFL kick in several hundred million. 

The Chargers will kick in 350 million. That's assumed to be coming from [Indiscernible] and naming rights. 

To have been sold yet. 

We don't know how the much the Chargers as a team will contribute now been the and Allatoona be kicking in $300 million.200 is a bring down

That's a huge amount of money. Chargers development said put the public should understand and how they are going to be funded. 

There will be a lot of misinformation out there but this is a visitor is tax. If you live in the city of San Diego and you don't stay in a hotel you will pay one dime for this facility about four cents over and above the existing tax and it's really designed for tourists to participate in building this. 

That in itself begs a lot of questions. Planning a convention I've a lot of money to spend in San Diego. May be undergo their spelling my folks to pay for the Stadium. How does this figure into us as a Forest City? And attractive dimensions of the 

It will be one of the highest hotel taxes in the country but on the other hand nobody knows about the tax until you get to check out at the end of your stay. Ally 03 dollars for hotel tax. For most people it's just another increase and the hotels are expensive here to begin with. What's another $20. 

Money magazine in its April issue says that San Diego has a great bargain city for hotels found

Maybe there's room. Wasn't the reaction to the speed lukewarm for the best for city officials.

On Friday segue into that though 

My colleague spent the day when this came out just asking politicians and candidates with a into this. And really they universally panned it are said, not ready to tell you we want to look at the details. That tells me that this is the house in trouble at the polls. They have real interest in being out there pulling out there and knocking on doors asking San Diego and that they pay for something like this. The folks are knocking on doors are hearing, we're not interested. 

What does [Indiscernible] Faulkner had to say on this? 

He's on vacation so

You would like to take a closer look at this. What I found interesting is some of his more political allies and people that share the same consultants namely Ray Ellis Bell he's running for District 1 city Council for this thing apart from I have to think they're working with a lot of the same people. The mayor would be quite so interested in having Ray Ellis come out and fight this.

[Indiscernible] was also very negative about this. He was Mayor Faulkner's political advisor.

We should say Mayor Faulkner spent a lot of time for whole another site their. I guess that follows by the wayside. 

$2 million. 

We shouldn't bury this yet. They have yet to raise or collected but is a 70,000 signatures from city voters over the next several months.@Five dollars apiece I guess it will have the cost. Initiative [Indiscernible] fell

This is a good field Birkenfeld

Plus the Chargers bring the fall. They will do fabulous Cogdill will be on the way to Super Bowl.

Maybe to be elected president without [ Laughter ] 

I don't think we should kill it yet though on the other hand, that I fell the [Indiscernible] got $.59 though that's unclear now. That was a quick turnaround. Was asked about this hurdle this though at this new stadium that Annex don't want to. 

The site for both this continuum is 15 acres east of Petco Park. Is called tailgate Park where we all tailgate before Padres games. And Eastside is the bus yard which nurses 19th need to. MTS is a separate entity. They can't just give this to the city. They have to sell it for market value or lease it down-based say, why pressures are rising for the property to be used for something else. It will take some time to move it because they need another 10 acres for the bus yard. Who wants to have a 10 acre bus yard next to them? 

Says it's canopied [Indiscernible] 

It can be anywhere.

Including one in Balboa Park. 

Its contents for a whole another long while to negotiate that. Backspace seven or eight weirs. 

As you mentioned before. If the voters approve this therapy [Indiscernible] to get Dinsmore and. Everything will roll over and make it happen. That takes a long time ago it may not start construction in tilt player who were opening and 55 predator was 10 years from now. 

But they need this right now. 

Also has a background though what is now [Indiscernible] fell maybe he's got the experience to move rapidly. 

One thing I really felt backers of the East Village, those other people, say they've objected to this thing. They say there's better uses here.

This is called East Village people the former city planner. And they have an alternate plan and their one workshop and another one this began to go overnight dear for a high-tech employment center in the park over residential and so on

I think we will get into those details as we move along in this campaign. There could be other forces with alternatives. Or other powers and people don't go for. There's [Indiscernible] itself. Let's move on to a little bit up the street to Balboa Park. As facilities in Balboa Park stumble for no money for repairs of the biggest tenant finds its [Indiscernible] flash from the leaders of the nonprofit San Diego zoo are quiet when it comes to sharing the wealth their [ Laughter ] 

Let's start with the problems in Balboa Park, batteries and how much money they take? 

There are literally buildings falling apart. If you walk down the pot that you can see there's maybe some rod or other things on buildings. But there are a lot of things we can't see, plumbing issues, all sorts of things. It would cost probably $300 million for all the fixes in the park down that doesn't mention the things that people have wanted to do over the years in the park that are funded.

That's a lot of money. Not the general budget. We talked many times about all the other structural problems. So let's talk about the zoo itself. It's this kind of oasis. And has lots of money bring the middle the purpose of 

The zoo actually get the property tax from citizens in San Diego. There's some interesting history with this. It actually goes back to 1934. At that time the zoo was really struggling to remain open. The middle of the depression. It was just before the Panama [Indiscernible] positions so they managed to get an item on the ballot. It was a really colorful campaign they had Kate and cookies. To try and encourage them to the doctors measure on the ballot. In the this property tax is bringing more than $10 million a year. 

It's not something the council can just change next week?

Is baked into the city charter. There are number of different nuances. But also after seeing which passed in 1978 that a limit on property taxes. This kind of ads is other Ringgold.

You have everything else that you take Cincom membership, grants etc.

Are doing exceedingly well since 1934 as is you become world-famous they've also gone stage for conservation efforts. And they now have one of the largest groups, they say of members in the world down they had about 250,000 or more member households. But now let's talk about the financials year. Their revenue that they reported for 2014 was almost $295 million. But the money that they received less expenses. Nearly $69 million. 13 doing very well.

Why can we take from that tax money or the talent spread around the park? 

There have been some puzzles to do that and wait friendly baseball and flat. The map what's the zoo's response when these people Saber line over here?

Recently back in December there was a discussion about the city charter. There's an effort underway to amend the charter. City Council on opposite sides of the aisle brought up this idea that when it be neat if you could get the zoo to partner with us somehow on a Balboa Park bonds. Let's put on a plan. They made a motion for the mayor and the budget analyst to take a look if we could come up with a plan?

That once fallen flat to. I did contact the zoo to ask them if they would be interested in a Balboa Park bonds. How they spend this tax money? What do they think about their leadership role given all the success they've had. They told me to really not interested in answering these questions. 

Councilmember says that spineless just leave it as it is.

Lately they brought a parking garage for their employees of the million dollars and may improve the [Indiscernible] so it's a lot nicer to walk. As they say they had this idea for time promenade connecting the zoo to an underground parking garage so they said we have no more does money to pay for. I'm glad you brought up this 10 million because that would generate around bond money. For that great take project.

There's plenty that you can justify. They can finance it through their money go

That's complicated to go they must be spent on zoological exhibits.

You can count parking into the facility. 

Potentially. There's debate over this.

You gauge the public year. If we get into the fight with the zoo, they had a you have to share Sameer funds.

I think San Diego would fight with the zoo the zoo is really one of a handful of world-class institutions in San Diego. Is a San Diego equity knows the zoo. They don't know are other cultural fine institutions. Wide take from something that the extremely successful why not find another added the new?

I think that's how voters would line up on. If the zoo is near Balboa Park is actually in Balboa Park. And the city and the tourist industry and everybody it says Balboa Park San Diego zoo. Unit known Lesher from here that part of the park. So maybe the zoo just have to be a bit nicer to its neighbors. And become part of its big family.

Last question before you leave this topic. Type in "Anderson people vying for his seat. What are they saying about this share the wealth?

There Chris Ward, and Anthony Bernal or Democrats for the front runners of this race. They say that Balboa Park does it need a dedicated [Indiscernible] which it does not have right now. Chris Ward believes that it would be best to put together a group of stakeholders. There many in Balboa Park to talk about what could be the funding engines for the park. Anthony who works for [Indiscernible] he advocates for a bonds. He thinks it's the most sustainable way.

We will watch and see what happens as we go along.

Governor. Jerry Brown blank in his tussle with [Indiscernible] and the deal was struck to raise the minimum wage to 1015 hour. To $15 an hour in five years. The agree averted in a ballot fight puts California out front in a national push to increase income. New York has done the same thing today. Let's start with the nuts and bolts of this. What's the deal between the governor? 

What the government was taking into account is theirs to ballot measures that would raise the minimum wage. Both those would probably be withdrawn. But this time the state is poised and then go up by a dollar a year until 2022. Small businesses have a little bit of a relief on this. They get one extra year before each job. They can stand the increase. 

Small been 25 employees and fewer. 

Yes. California week ago looked like it would be in the lead. New York as you mentioned, yesterday the legislature announced a similar wage increase so many cities are looking at Hillary Clinton applauded this to. There's a level of anger in the country of wages have stagnated since the great recession. California's not out there. 

For the concerns the governor had. He's been seen as a progressive but he's dragging his feet. 

He was worried that any employer would be worried. He was To pay the lowest paid employees more money.

So he's thinking where we can come up with this? 

The economy is getting better. I think you spacing the probable certainty that voters would approve. Wherever this has been in the ballot it's been approved. 

Is in a been. And the city has its own increase on the ballot for June. 

[Indiscernible] was the person behind it has dealt to fight for. It's a little bit more aggressive. It would move to 1050 almost immediately and then $11 in January It's a little bit more aggressive. It would move to 1050 almost immediately and then $11 in January 2017. The year before the state law. But that would put San Diego the same category as San Francisco, and San Jose. We wouldn't be competing with other at innovative cities. We would just be a little bit ahead. 

Versus today component as well. 56 days. Versus three.

If you take a day off, you may not be able to pay your rent.

Other cities around it would not have that. 

I don't think $.50 is going to be a big enough amount of money. 

But that the critics are saying.

The city Council hearings in the local discussion. We do have a bite here. This is from some testimony from City Hall. About what minimum wage hike means. 

More than once I came to work sick because I cannot afford to miss a day of work. If I didn't have access to sick days I would not have a necessary to come to work putting at risk not only my coworkers for all those customers that came in to eat. 

) Benefit most in California? 

It can be two groups. Entry-level college graduates were starting out in the first job MIP minimum wage and those that have been in the situation. At the lower end of the economic ranks for a long period of time. Like the person you heard. Someone has family that are trying to feed and pay rent. The current $10 doesn't cover. Five tickets can a help a lot of people. The argument on the other side the State Senator. represents the [Indiscernible] said very clearly. Many employers will think twice before they hire more people. We're in the midst of a [Indiscernible]. There are fewer young workers. There's fewer and fewer illegal immigrants despite the campaign rhetoric out there. And there's more retirees. I think employers are defined at the pain more anyways.

Isn't there a concern that permits automation?

Investing automation.

Builders market on the tablet rather than selling someone we want. 

It's cheaper than paying wages and benefits.

That's probably deathly going to happen. 

It has happened. 

In the central valley there are determining with machines. P you can say it's probably better as the demographics change that it's [Indiscernible] get taken and automated in some ways. So that when there is an open Java for something a little higher than flipping a burger.

Republicans didn't support this. The majority didn't need Republican votes.

, These folks were from moral areas where they say the coastal cities, may not help much in San Francisco where to expensive. But in other world parts this is a lot of money for wages were not so expensive. Is going to raise our costs for consumers. That's going to happen. Is probably going to make interestingly some of the immigration less attractive. That's been something that's been drawing people. California is in a unique situation. That are already paying a lot of money. If anything is going to bring up the lower end of the economic spectrum without having big impact on employers. 

Let's talk about the federal wage filled the minimum wage federally. Its half of what were talking about. $7.05.

I don't think it is the a lot of companies moving from California to South Dakota to save. California doesn't have that kind of industry. It may be true elsewhere but not here. Certainly not because the California.

A few seconds left on this. You think this campaign will pass in the city as we move on to the election here?

It should draw more people into it. They will know that the state numbers going up. 

A big factor in the national campaign? 

I would ask for Roger said. The opposition to the minimum wage campaign locally has fallen. There's not really a lot of interest in it. Many of Todd Gloria and folks in his camp oregano really punish the importance of this.

We'll see how that plays out. We've run out of time. That does wrap up another week of stories at the KPBS roundtable. I'd like to thank spans 10, Lisa Halverstadt, and Chris Jennewein. 

A reminder all the stories we discussed today are available on our website I'm Mark Sauer thank you for joining us.