Published in Voice of San Diego August 31, 2016, as a response in the comments section of Op Ed by Scott Peters:
It pains me to type this because I really like and respect Congressman Peters, but this opinion piece reveals something that we must as San Diegans stop allowing to happen. A major public investment is not a “big thing” in any good sense of the term merely because it is expensive or will result in a large structure. I was born and raised in this town. And after living in four other states I am certain we can be great. But it won’t come on the heels of allowing ourselves to continually be handed our choices of what to care about and why. The children and youth of San Diego struggle to thrive because we don’t invest in them. Our young adults could be seizing the tremendous opportunities that blue tech, IT, health care, and a range of careers that don’t require four year degrees could provide but can’t because we choose to spend political capital on big projects that we pretend are big ideas.
A football stadium or convadium or whatever we might call it is not a big idea. It’s an old, tired idea that has proven in every single city that’s tried it to be a bad deal for the members of the community, except the select few who get short-term jobs as a result. And of course the Billionaires who own the football team that gets its house built virtually for free. We should all be so lucky.
Let’s be clear. San Diego could choose to be the only city in the country with 0% youth unemployment. THAT would be a big thing. We could choose to make quality early care and education universally available across all incomes, which would improve both our current economy and our childrens’ future educational success. THAT would be a big thing. We could commit to building 30,000 homes in all market brackets by relaxing needless and costly regulation and streamlining within 1.5 miles of major transit. THAT would be a big thing. We could stop cow-towing to regional planning agencies and form a Joint Powers Authority between San Diego, La Mesa and South Bay to bolster mass transit and connect our regional economy. THAT would be a big thing. We could fully fund actual homes for the homeless with a combination of apartment conversions and public-private-partnership construction that incentivized hundreds of units, not 2 or 3 at a time. THAT would be a big thing.
We have real, meaningful challenges that would help all San Diegans regardless of what side of the 8 freeway they live on. We should take those challenges seriously and not dismiss them as false choices. Everyone paying attention knows we can’t raise taxes for everything and, in fact, many of these things are actual choices we must make.
I have campaigned for Congressman Peters. He is smart, practical, and we share many of the same values. But when friends disagree about important things we can’t be afraid to say so and explain why. Our city needs a new future and to chart a new course for what we’ll be when our children grow up. Giving Spanos this stadium pushes back our ability to do that in favor of the same models that haven’t worked for us in the past. We should commit to doing big things. This just isn’t one of them.