Affordable Housing Advocates Applaud Restart Of Sports Arena Redevelopment
San Diego affordable housing advocates are applauding Mayor Todd Gloria's decision this week to restart the process of redeveloping the Pechanga Arena in the Midway District.
Gloria announced that decision Thursday after state officials determined the process initiated by his predecessor, Kevin Faulconer, had violated the state's Surplus Land Act. That law, amended in 2019, requires cities to give affordable housing developers first right of refusal to build on public land that the government doesn't need.
Last August Faulconer selected Brookfield Housing and ASM Global to lead redevelopment of the 48 acres that encompass the arena, the surrounding parking lot and several commercial buildings. Another firm, Toll Brothers Housing, also submitted a proposal.
Both plans featured a new entertainment district with housing, commercial space, parkland and a new or renovated arena. Neither plan would likely have been feasible if voters last November had not approved Measure E, which exempted Midway from the city's strict 30-foot coastal height limit.
Restarting the redevelopment process could still result in a similar vision for the property, but the final plan would have to incorporate affordable housing.
Laura Nunn, chief of policy and education for the nonprofit San Diego Housing Federation, said opportunities for building more low-income housing in San Diego are limited and that the property in Midway is a big opportunity.
"In an environment where the city lacks an abundance of financial resources to develop affordable housing, this is a resource and an asset that the city has," Nunn said. "The revenue is not there from the city, but the land is there. And that's the opportunity here."
Gloria said in a statement Thursday he planned to ask the City Council to restart the process next month.
"This is yet another example of a flawed real estate deal from the previous administration where San Diegans are now left with little to show for a significant investment of time and resources," Gloria said. "It is critical that we do not squander this once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a modern arena through a process that prioritizes the affordable housing our region desperately needs."