Chargers say Dec. 15 citywide stadium vote doesn't comply with state law

SAN DIEGO -- Despite a belief by city leaders that a public vote for a new stadium satisfies state environmental regulations, the San Diego Chargers issued a statement Tuesday saying that, in their view, a citywide vote proposed for Dec. 15 will not comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA.

The announcement further shifts the focus of the organization toward a potential move to the Los Angeles market, in which the Chargers have partnered with the Oakland Raiders on a $1.7 billion proposal in Carson, California.

The league will hold a special owners meeting Aug. 11 in Chicago to discuss the process for teams seeking to file relocation applications to move to Los Angeles.

Teams interested in filing for relocation have traditionally been able to do it between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15.

"Based on all of this work and discussion, the Chargers have concluded that it is not possible to place a ballot measure before voters in December 2015 in a legally defensible manner given the requirements of the state's election law and the California Environmental Quality Act," Mark Fabiani, point person for the Chargers on the stadium issue, said in a prepared statement. "The various options that we have explored with the city's experts all lead to the same result: significant time-consuming litigation founded on multiple legal challenges, followed by a high risk of eventual defeat in the courts.

"The Chargers are committed to maintaining an open line of communication with the city's negotiators as we move through the summer and leading up to the special August meeting of National Football League owners. That meeting may provide important information about what is likely to occur during the remainder of 2015."

The Chargers met with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, city attorney Jan Goldsmith, county supervisor Ron Roberts and the rest of their negotiation team for the third time Tuesday.

Faulconer said in a statement that a full review required by the California Environmental Quality Act could be completed by October, addressing the Chargers' legal concerns. Under that scenario, a vote could be held in January.

"We have all the ingredients for success in San Diego if the Chargers work with us. We can get this done if the Chargers want to get it done," the statement read.

In a news conference with reporters, Faulconer indicated the two sides met for 90 minutes. Faulconer said the city plans to talk with the league and give an update on what's happening on the stadium issue in San Diego sometime next week.

Although the Chargers believe otherwise, Goldsmith said the citywide public vote proposed for Dec. 15 would comply with CEQA and does not circumvent an environmental review.

"We've presented some options that ensure CEQA compliance," Goldsmith said. "Not an end around CEQA, but CEQA compliance. This is not exceptionally difficult. I know there has been a lot that has been written and spoken about that, but there are options that allow for CEQA compliance."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.