Roundtable: SoccerCity?; Hard-Hearted Traffic Court; Trauma Training With Live Animals
MS: Will there be a soccer stadium on the Mission Valley Qualcomm Stadium Site marks multiple plans are being kicked around but nobody scored yet. Traffic court can help the poor make arrangements to pay fines but in Mesa it is pay up or lose your license. The Marine Corps is using live animals to train medics while other services have stopped. I am Mark Saur and the KPBS Roundtable starts right now. Our discussion test joining me today is Eric Anderson. Roger Showley the development for the San Diego Union Tribune and Amita Sharma. And investigator producer JW August. MS: The charges have fled to LA but some local developers are helping they will get a big kick out of soccer city. Rarely has her been such a juicy development opportunity as the Stadium site smack in the middle of Mission Valley. Now comes a push to bring major league soccer their plus housing and a River Park. That is a lot of stuff. EA: It is. It's 166-acre part of land and a big parking lot around the stadium right now. What they want to do is put in a River Park along the southern edge of that property and along the river and add a major league soccer stadium. They want to add possibly an NFL stadium. If there's interest, they would have room for that. And then they want to build homes and commercial space and add retail space as well and a couple of hotels and put it all inside of that 166-acre site, but there is some tight roping. A lot of that development will end up on an 80-acre parcel. If the asked to read about more than that, they will have to go to the public for vote and they want to try to avoid that. So it's a lot less area there. MS: Will get to some of those details. Who was behind this? RS: It is a firm from La Jolla. They joint ventures with other developers run the country. MS: What is the value of this land? RS: It's been estimated from zero to $3 million an acre. It is zero because they're so much to mitigate as far as getting rid of the Qualcomm Stadium and dealing with the soil and transportation and on and off-site improvements. The development agreement said if it comes zero value that they only pay $10,00 for the whole thing. EA: They are saying we can't give you this for just 10,000. RS: No matter who it is it's going to be the same thing so it's whether this group or some other thing -- JW: The public should not be allowed to vote. This should not be some deal cut someplace. Just because they have a nice car. [Indiscernible - multiple speakers] RS: There is talk about maybe the developers will allow it to go to the boat. In a special election, which cannot be held, so I don't think until October or November so is that going to make the deadlines realistic? MS: It that is a red flag here among several because what is the deadline here? The first deadline was January 31 they had to submit bids. So 12 cities submitted bids. RS: It was not a free-for-all they had to prequalify these bidders, so FS investors. MS: So they are the sole folks I can bring us a major league soccer franchise. This is a tool stadium, right? EA: Aztecs will play the as well. The major league soccer time really runs to the fall. What investors was helping was we could have a decision by June and that would mean the Stadium plan would move forward and gives them what they're looking for and they could decide the fall weather not San Diego would get a franchise. If the Council decided not to approve the plan and had to go to the ballot that ballot would not happen until November. I think there are still questions as to what happens if San Diego isn't picked anyway. And they give the developers the keys to that property do they still move forward with the investment? RS: We don't build a stadium in seven years but maybe the legal details say [Indiscernible - multiple speakers] JW: We don't know. That is a problem. RS: If you read this thing it's more than 3000 pages of legal things and plans. There are certain little words that most people would not realize and then they bought a legal advertisement in the newspaper. MS: I want to go to the mayor on announcing this. They were not crazy about it. They're talking about this was Gina Jacobs a Representative saying that the ownership may convey tax advantages to the investors. What is San Diego state saying? RS: They are not used to having to pay anything for the land. The second point is they don’t have any plans for the property. They talked about it and thought we could put housing or KPBS but they never actually given anybody a real plan for what they will do and how long they would take and who would do it. MS: Let's hear from the mayor Faulkner on the rollout of this idea. Mayor: We are talking about a long-awaited river park, residential buildings that will help our housing shortage, and a permanent home for Aztec football. MS: All he needs is some pom-poms there. EA: This is where the mayor's role is. He has that position where he can either support or not support the project but beyond that there's nothing he really does. It's kind of up to the Council who will decide if they're going to move forward with the project. RS: Seven of the nine people have good things to say. AS: So how attractive is it? RS: They say San Diego had the second biggest leadership of the World Cup last time. Every kid in San Diego plays soccer when he's 10 years old. They have a fan base, which they are counting on and the commissioner came the San Diego at the Faulkner press conference and said if you do it will give it to you. So if we follow their rules we won't be in. I think the question is will this be a good team or as good as the solos in Tijuana? Just because you give somebody a facility doesn't mean [Indiscernible - multiple speakers] JW: In the stories I read I see that professional soccer is losing $100 million a year. MS: So who knows if it will be there in the years to come? Let's talk about another idea the other plan to forward here. RS: That's all speculation. The University may need 2000 housing units and these people proposed 800 for students. What I'm saying is that the University has no means to bring it off. EA: They sat down and done the math. They've got a plan and they know where they want to get stuff and they have a ballpark on how much it will cost. The pitching benefits for the city so the other things that it been floating around having carried that meat on the bone. MS: That was the last thing. We have a few seconds. RS: He said in the letter to the NFL now proposes to keep Qualcomm Stadium in place and then build the development around it. MS: As an NFL stadium? MS: Okay. RS: There is no meat on the bones on not either. MS: What happens now? EA: You are going to start to see the petition gatherers out in front of your local supermarket asking to sign. That will go on for a number of weeks if they get the number of signatures they want they will bring it in front of the Council and their initial idea was me and they pushed it back to June so sometime in the summertime the Council will have to make a decision whether or not it is a good deal. MS: Will be looking for reporting on that. We will move on traffic court finds of even a few hundred dollars can be hard on for people that's why they allow payment over time or community service to work off finds. Some courts of Sandhu County do that but some refuse. How does this work? I prove to the folks what are the guidelines on how they work? AS: You get a traffic ticket. If you cannot afford to pay it and you ignore it then you get a civil assessment. If you ignore it you don't approach the court to get a payment plan your license get preferred and you lose your drivers license and a lot of poor people even after they lose her driver's license they continue to drive to work. They continue to take their kids to school by driving. If they get pulled over then their car gets impounded. Then they have to pay impound fees. The longer you wait and the longer you go without paying the more funds you accumulate. MS: It just keeps building up. The state recognizes this and they understand that this is a tough thing for some people so there are guidelines AS: So for years the state has been getting complaints that people simply cannot afford to pay the late finds and traffic tickets. So they finally listened and they came up with an amnesty program. I think a couple of years ago California had something like $10 billion in unpaid traffic tickets and trying to recoup that money from people who cannot afford to pay was a losing process. So the idea was to give people a break and if you got a ticket before January 1, 2013 you were on some kind of payment plan. You had had your license suspended and then you qualify for this and you can get up to 80% reduction on you what you owed. MS: We do have a clip that goes to this. The state senator wrote the amnesty bill. Senator: 150 for thousand people have gotten their driver's licenses back in the state has got millions and millions of dollars. Sword impacted people's lives. People cannot go get their medicine or take their kids to school. Extraordinary stories that we heard throughout this process of hardship and just ridiculous finds. MS: You've interviewed some of these people. Tell us about them. AS: He was driving one day and he got caught and pulled over and he got a ticket. It was a really bad time in his life. He was a Navy seal trainee and he had injuries to his body. He wasn't working and wasn't in training. He was a student and supporting his wife and his two young children under $3000 a month. He had a ticket with civil assessments, which was about $600. So he goes to the court and he explains the situation. He asked if he could get a fee reduction or if he can volunteer to pay the ticket off. He says that the traffic commissioner showed him no leniency and his license was suspended and he worked over the next several months to pay off the ticket. MS: You say this is not an isolated story. AS: I expect a lot of people in the court to have thousands and thousands of dollars in fines. So this attorney has had a lot of tickets. They see the traffic commissioners try to work with people who can’t afford to pay their tickets. She says the commissioners in the Kearny Mesa traffic court require people to start paying within 30 days. She says that they also don't offer these hearings where people can show their inability to pay. She said that Kearny Mesa and the commissioners offer people community service to work off their tickets, but at Kearny Mesa the commissioners offer what's called probation works project where you put on a vest and pick up trash off the freeway. She said this is reserved for people that were on probation. She interprets all of this as Kearny Mesa having a propensity to punish people who are poor. MS: They work with a collection agency, right? AS: So the entire court system works with a collection agency called Alliance One. She contends that Alliance One is deliberately shutting people out of the amnesty program. She says it's a big conflict of interest because the higher the fine or the more people pay they get more revenue. So the way she says it is that people will apply for amnesty and their applications will get returned as a complete. These people will take the same application to her and she cannot find anything wrong with this. So she goes and resubmits it. Every time somebody tried to check and I they are told we can't take it. MS: Tell us about the response from Alliance One and the courts. AS: No response from Alliance One on the first story and on the second story. MS: What about the courts? Basing all these folks are complaining. AS: I spoke with -- on the first issue the presiding judge said that that is absolutely not true. Nobody in Kearny Mesa is insensitive to the challenges that the poor face. He said that he sat in court himself and has not seen that. He also said at the end of the day these commissions are simply implementing the law set by the state legislator. In reference to Alliance One you've got a chief administrative officer who oversees a contract at Superior Court with alliance desk Alliance One and despite the hundreds of complaints he says her office received in connection with Alliance One he says he hasn't heard anything. JW: That says something about the court system. Why doesn't the executive director of the executive office know about the complaints? Is anyone communicating to the citizens? How can you find out if he is the guy? And I go online? AS: He is the chief administrative officer. [Indiscernible - multiple speakers] RS: Is that the judge oversees [Indiscernible - multiple speakers] what is wrong with him? AS: He also maintains that he hasn't heard these complaints. He said that he could not comment something that was presented to him that is hypothetical. We are at a time on that segment. MS: We will move on. Training for medics headed to the battlefield is critical and more realistic. It is humane or effective? Why are these animals used in the training? JW: There is some thinking. I consider old school. This is the best way to expose them to battlefield conditions. They shoot them and they cut them and special Marines forces will learn how to do procedures and try to fix the wounds. The point of the story is that there's a better way to do this and it's done in many different places in our country but for some reason certain elements is sticking with this as the solution. The guys need to see the blood coming. MS: We set some branches have moved away from this. JS: Not totally. MS: They are using simulators instead. JW: You should go online and look at simulators. That stuff is creepy. There is a company in town that has one of the -- the person being train can cut him a duplicate wounds and the person in the suit would react like somebody in that condition. I talked to medical doctors and the service and out of the services that say civilian doctors learn to train with simulators. I believe it's about the money. There is millions of dollars. There are several contractors on the East Coast and West Coast. The contractor that's doing dashes they have office in Oceanside. They have a contract this year for Camp Pendleton. MS: The Marines are not crazy about this. JW: Over that timeframe I developed a couple of active Marine sources who are great people and very smart. They would be postage people for the Marine Corps. They are really upset. They talk to them coming back and they see what is happening and is a told me, they could be on Pendleton and a group is going to Afghanistan. They know who is going and what units. This stuff is kept secret. They picked them up early in the morning and buses and they can't bring their cell phones. The bus that we had followed two hours out of town to a golf course in Riverside. RS; It sounds horrible what they're doing but in a way it's exposing them to trauma so it is kind of creepy and horrible to do this but we are in the battle zone. Perhaps there's some psychological training that goes along with this medical training. JW: Elements of the service have dropped it. They are moving away from it. AS: Why are they doing this here? JW: I have no idea. The DOD says we are not convinced that the simulator suits and manikins are used yet. Even though doctors do this. I talked to a military doctor and said why don't they come in observe our procedures and look at human cadavers. These animals are euthanize and just lying there. It's not like they are going to react to the wounds. MS: There's been a bipartisan push in Congress to move away from this. How come that is happening? JW: It disappeared during the last administration. Jackie Spear who is from California is one of the congressmen leading the charge but right now there's other things going in Washington and this is probably at the bottom of the Wish List. I still think it is something that the public should be aware. MS: A short bit of time here give us the idea of the scope of this how many animals are used? JW: I think it was 8500 and with these making over one million dollars a year that is a lot of pigs and goats. MS: It is the Marines and Navy that are really the ones -- JW: Elements of the Army and Air Force still do it. Different sections are shutting down. I think the commands relies this stuff does work we don't need to use animals to prepare people for the battlefield. It is cheaper. It is more expensive initially but in time the classical way down so that MS: We have run out of time. That does wrap up another week of stories at the KPBS Roundtable. I would like to say thank you to my guess Eric Anderson, Roger Showley , Amita Sharma , and JW August . A reminder all the stories that we discussed today are available on our website KPBS.org. I'm Mark Saur. Thank you for joining us today on the KPBS Roundtable.
Will SoccerCity make its gooooooal?
Development newbies La Jolla-based FS Investors have proposed a $1 billion plan to lease and then buy the Mission Valley Qualcomm site.
They propose to fill it with 4,800 market-rate and affordable homes, office space, retail, restaurants and hotels, some parkland and a soccer stadium with at least 22,000 seats.
FS is also offering the stadium to San Diego State University, along with student housing and office space.
The company plans to collect the nearly 72,000 signatures necessary put the proposal into a ballot initiative. But they're hoping there will be no ballot.
Instead, they plan to present the initiative to the San Diego City Council in June. If the council votes yes, that's all it will take to rush the project through as was attempted for the Lilac Hills development in North County.
In an interesting twist, ballot language pegs the cost of the Qualcomm site at $10,000 — if the cost of demolition, removal and development exceeds the appraised value of the land.
And there are competing versions of that value.
Concerns over traffic, stadium size, parkland and the value of the site have also surfaced.
SDSU is lukewarm to the project; the stadium is smaller than they want, and the university is looking for more student housing and office space.
If San Diego is to get an MLS franchise at all, it must move quickly, as the MLS will award franchises soon.
Meanwhile, Doug Manchester has resurfaced with a competing plan to refurbish Qualcomm and invite the Raiders to play in it.
Traffic court's collection agency said to shake down the poor
Traffic tickets are expensive to begin with, but with late fees and penalties they can metastasize quickly, which is a big problem for the poor.
If you are poor, negotiating alternate methods or times of payment or even amnesty under a 2015 state law could be a big help.
But try this in Kearny Mesa traffic court, and you are likely to fail.
Commissioners in three San Diego County traffic courts — Vista, Chula Vista and El Cajon — grant extensions to people who can’t afford to pay their fines or offer them community service instead.
Not Kearny Mesa. That court, under Commissioner Corinne Miesfeld, doesn't give people hearings to show their inability to pay. If they can't pay in 30 days, the only alternative offered in Kearny Mesa is Probation Works Projects, which means picking up trash along the freeways.
If tickets are not paid within 30 days, the driver is taxed with a $315 civil assessment. If an unpaid fine goes to collection, the driver can ask for amnesty under a state program launched in 2015 to offer impoverished drivers a way out of the mounting fines and to get their suspended licenses back.
If a driver with outstanding fines is stopped, his license is suspended, and his car can be impounded. And then he can’t get to work to earn money to pay off the fine, which is the reason for the amnesty law.
Marines, Navy still use live animals in trauma training
The Army and the Air Force are reducing the use of live animals, mainly goats and pigs, for trauma training of medics. Some bases have eliminated the practice altogether.
Not the Navy or the Marines.
The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps still use the animals to train personnel on life-saving techniques. The U.S. Department of Defense maintains that using a combination of simulation and live tissue training is appropriate and will save the lives of Marines and sailors.
The services are under pressure from PETA and others, including members of congress, to stop this type of training. And there are alternatives. A local company, Strategic Operations, manufactures a “cut suit,” a manikin with special effects that simulate battlefield injuries and responses. The suits are cheaper in the long run than live animals.