San Diego Business Journal

"In another action aimed at preventing potential litigation, the San Diego Padres brokered a legal agreement with the Environmental Health Coalition, the city and San Diego Gas & Electric Co., on a variety of environmental issues involving the proposed Downtown ballpark.

The agreement was announced last week in advance of the City Council's expected certification of the ballpark's environmental impact report Oct. 26.

Once that happens, it triggers a 30-day window permitting legal challenges to the document and the $411 million project.

Jack McGrory, the Padres' new chief operating officer and former San Diego city manager, said the pact with the EHC and a similar legal agreement several months ago with the Save Our Heritage Foundation demonstrate the baseball franchise's commitment "to fully address issues of concern to the community and to find workable solutions."

The earlier agreement dealt with the preservation and incorporation of several historic buildings in the East Village section slated for destruction to make way for the 42,000-seat ballpark.

Dirt Treatment
The EHC agreement calls for SDG & E; to incinerate all of the contaminated soil from property it is selling to the Padres at an off-site facility. The utility's earlier plan, approved by both the county's Department of Health Services and the Air Pollution Control District, was to treat some of the contaminated soil at the site.

The SDG & E; property being sold to the Padres, at 9th and Imperial avenues, is part of a package of parcels the Padres are purchasing for the project.

In SDG & E;'s hands for more than a century, it had been used to manufacture "town gas," made by combining coal and oil.

Paula Forbis, an EHC staff attorney, said some of the estimates on the health risks resulting from treating the soil at the site were 10 times higher than if treatment occurred off-site.

"We were concerned the pollutants posed an excess cancer risk to the surrounding population," Forbis said.

Under the revised plan, all the soil will be treated off-site. The agreement also calls for the ballpark and its surrounding new commercial and retail development to include passive runoff recapturing systems.

These systems, defined as a filtering surface that could be soil, sand or gravel, are intended to prevent the flow of polluted runoff into San Diego Bay.

Pact Prevents EHC Action
The Padres also agreed to a pollution prevention plan aimed at eliminating or reducing the use of hazardous chemicals in controlling pests and cleanup of the ballpark.

In return for these assurances, the EHC agreed not to file suit regarding the ballpark EIR.

"This agreement shows that redevelopment projects can be done in a manner that protects public health and the environment without forfeiting efficiency and cost effectiveness," Forbis said.


'This agreement shows that redevelopment projects can be done in a manner that protects public health and the environment without forfeiting efficiency and cost effectiveness.'

Paula Forbis
Environmental Health Coalition"