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SDSU Moving Forward On Mission Valley Development

February 8, 2019 1:13 p.m.

GUEST: Erik Anderson, environment reporter, KPBS News

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San Diego State University's plan to reshape Mission Valley is moving forward. The school wrapped up the first set of public hearings last night and a long process to certify an environmental impact report for the stadium site. The school wants to build a new sports stadium housing classrooms office space hotels and a river park as part of a Mission Valley campus. PBS environment reporter Eric Anderson joins me now with an update on the project. Welcome Eric. Thank you Jake. Appreciate it. So what voters approved the SD as you West proposal in November and we haven't heard much about the project since then where does it stand.

Well this is part of the environmental process that will start moving forward now that's already actually moving forward. Part of the environmental review that the university has to do before they can go to their board of trustees and ask for their approval to go ahead and start the project it's gonna be a massive makeover of that Mission Valley stadium site. We were looking at maps the other day and it's kind of interesting to see you know the existing San Diego State University campus is about 283 acres or so give or take some change.

And this new addition will be about one hundred and thirty acres which is almost half again the size of the existing campus. So it's going to be a major change for San Diego State University and this is part of that process to get the ball rolling.

So then Eric what environmental impacts does the university have to consider in its review of the Mission Valley site and what's been done so far.

You know the university as they showed in that hearing yesterday has started to work on on the site and there are a laundry list of things that they're going to look at things like traffic air quality the geology of the site the hydrology where the water moves. That's a big issue for that area whether there are mineral resources how the population is going to interact. They have to look at the entire project and basically indicate where there are going to be impacts and then how they're going to mitigate those impacts that's what a draft environmental review is all about.

And so they've already sort of begun that process. They have contractors at the meeting yesterday where they talked a little bit about what some of the preliminary findings that they had uncovered already were. And that's all part of the environmental reviews we hear from Laura Sheehan.

We want to make sure that as we're studying all of the impacts we're not missing anything. Traffic for example you know we have traffic engineers and they're in the next room and they'll talk to people in detail about what they've observed and what they've studied and how they think this project is going to impact it. But the community really knows and I'm very real way where the traffic problems are today and what they're concerned about.

So Eric give us a sense of the infrastructure changes to the area that the project will require that the university is looking into.

One of the obvious things is the traffic is as large Sean mentioned. It's we know that there is going to be additional traffic some early studies before this project was approved by voters showed that. And so there will likely be upgrades to that 15 interchange right there at Friar's road. There will have to be some additional roadways into the project area are going to be built and that's going to affect traffic flow. And the main entrance now to the stadium site which is that mission village drive that comes down the hill from Sara Mesa goes into the site that's really kind of an awkward interchange where we're there are really five it's a five way intersection which is kind of weird and awkward.

So that will probably be reconfigured and those are just some of the things that you can look at immediately and see there may be other changes you know as they do more studies and find out more. There may be other changes required as well.

And as they move with this the university says it plans to complete the environmental impact report by the end of 2019. Why such a short timeline.

It's actually I think it's a pretty aggressive timeline for a project of this size and scope. They have to look at a lot of different things. They're hoping to have you know their draft environmental review out by summer. They want to give the public a couple of months to comment on it. Then they'll you know react to those comments and build those into the final report and they say they'd like to be able to offer this to the CSU trustees in January of 2020 whether or not they make that timeline. I think is it remains to be seen.

There's a lot of work that goes into it. If they find problems or if they can't figure out a way to mitigate one issue or another that will set off that timeline but they say they're dead. Did. They're optimistic that they can make that goal. And they'd like to be able to do it because they want to start construction of the stadium next year so that it will be ready for the football season in 2022.

In addition to the environmental review the university also has to negotiate with the city over the purchase price. Remind us of what has happened there and where it stands now.

Sure. The initiative that was passed Measure G that was passed back in November basically created an environment where the university could buy about one hundred and thirty two acres of land from the city of San Diego. That land sale still has to be negotiated. Now the university president and the mayor of San Diego did meet shortly after the election but since then there has been no discussion or negotiation of terms. The university is still in the process of putting together its negotiating team. We haven't heard yet from the city whether or not their negotiators are in place.

But there haven't been any meetings and that's kind of a key piece that will run parallel to the environmental review. Right. So as the environmental review moves forward this negotiation over the sale of the land will also move forward.

Presumably the university hoping that those two are reconciled you know close to the same same time period and the public and e-mail comments about SDI issues Mission Valley development to M V comments at SDI as you got to you by February 19th and I've been speaking with K PBS environment reporter Eric Anderson. Eric thanks for joining us. A pleasure.