Efforts to build a new ballpark for the San Diego Padres hit a snag when historic preservation advocates won a round in San Diego County Superior Court, potentially jeopardizing the project's targeted completion date of February 2002. Superior Court Judge Judith McConnell ordered the City of San Diego and its downtown redevelopment agency to halt eminent domain proceedings, land assembly and the awarding of a $50 million contract for infrastructure improvements until an environmental impact report is complete. A draft EIR is has circulated but City Council adoption of the study is not due until mid-September. The decision stalls a "critical path" item by three to four months, said Deputy City Manager Bruce Herring. Officials are still trying to determine if that time can be made up before February of 2002, he said. An organization called Citizens Advocating Redevelopment Excellence filed a lawsuit because it wants the city and the Padres to move the stadium location by two blocks to avoid an historic warehouse district. In June, the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed the arts and warehouse district as one of the 11 most endangered historical places in the country. City officials argued that the eminent domain, land assembly and public works projects were allowed under a 1992 downtown redevelopment plan. However, the plan does not contemplate a baseball stadium, said Susan Brandt-Hawley, the attorney for CARE. A paper trail made clear the city's actions were in preparation for a ballpark, she said. In her ruling issued in late June, Judge McConnell wrote, "The current activities being pursued by (the city) appear to be inconsistent with the Centre City Redevelopment Plan, and the master environmental impact report. The draft subsequent environmental impact report admits that the development site was intended to comprise primarily residential uses, and the proposed ballpark project is ‘currently not an allowed use within the area.'" Added Brandt-Hawley, "You wonder why they didn't do the EIR a year ago." Last fall, San Diego voters approved the 42,000-seat stadium for the rundown East Village, near the revamped Gaslamp Quarter and the expanding convention center. Funding for the $411 million ballpark is to come from city-issued bonds ($225 million) the redevelopment agency ($50 million) the port district ($21 million) and the Padres ($115 million). The ballpark is supposed to anchor a 26-block redevelopment area, with hotels, restaurants and shops completing the project. Brandt-Hawley said her clients are not trying to halt the ballpark, only to move it a few blocks toward vacant San Diego Gas & Electric property. The East Village is getting a second life as people create live/work units in the brick warehouses built early this century — just as envisioned by the 1992 redevelopment plan. However, Herring, the deputy city manger, said shifting the ballpark site would "change the project dramatically" because it would requiring altering plans for ancillary hotels and other developments around the stadium. Padres majority owner John Moores told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he would not consent to shifting the ballpark's location. He also said McConnell's ruling proves "it's impossibly difficult to get anything done in California." Complicating the stadium controversy further, the 1998-99 San Diego County grand jury charged two-term Mayor Susan Golding with civic misconduct. The grand jury alleged Golding offered to back a $4 million city appropriation to the San Diego County Hotel-Motel Association for tourism promotion in exchange for the association supporting last year's ballpark ballot measure. However, on July 20, District Attorney Paul Pfingst declared Golding had done nothing illegal and he sought dismissal of the charge. Golding denied any wrongdoing. Contacts: Susan Brandt-Hawley, attorney for Citizens Advocating Redevelopment Excellence, (707) 938-3908. Bruce Herring, San Diego deputy city manager, (619) 236-6363.