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Politics

San Diego Councilmen Want More Public Access To Mayor's Stadium Group

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Two members of the City Council called Monday for more transparency by a task force designed to develop plans for a new Chargers stadium in San Diego, but the City Attorney's Office said the group doesn't need to meet in public.

The nine-member task force announced Friday by Mayor Kevin Faulconer includes business and civic leaders and land-use experts.

In a memo to Faulconer, Councilmen David Alvarez and Todd Gloria said they're troubled by a lack of openness for the group, "especially because you have tasked them with the development of a proposal that is expected to include a commitment of public resources in the form of land and/or tax revenue."

The councilmen requested that the panel hear public input on the stadium issue, that the mayor or task force issue monthly progress reports, and for information on how much public funds the group will spend. A news release Faulconer's office issued Friday said the group will not receive funding from the city, and the group's members will not be compensated.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith weighed in with his own memo, which said the task force is allowed to meet behind closed doors since it is not an official municipal body and does not represent the city.

He said that, as he understands it, the group will operate informally. "It will not be required to conduct public meetings, submit financial disclosure forms or otherwise publicly identify conflicts of interest," Goldsmith said.

"Our office has been asked whether this group is legally obligated to follow Brown Act requirements that apply to public bodies," Goldsmith said. "The answer is that as long as the group remains an informal advisory group to the mayor and nothing more, it does not have to comply with the rules designed for public bodies. In fact, it is common for politicians to receive informal input from members of the community without demanding such compliance."

He said the task force will not be allowed to make decisions or negotiate on behalf of the city, and will not receive legal advice from the City Attorney's Office.

Faulconer created the task force to determine whether to place a new playing home for the Chargers downtown or the Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley, and develop a funding plan that will pass muster with two-thirds of the city's voters next year. A final report from the panel is due in the fall.

Craig Gustafson of the mayor's office said the task force is just one part of what will be a "very public" process.

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