Monday, November 30, 2009

49ers Stadium: "We don't have the money"...

Dear Santa Clarans:

I'll put that title in its context right away: When Mayor Mahan spoke those words in the City Council Meeting of last Tuesday evening, November 24th, she was referring to a proposed $60,000-per-year athletic trainer for the Senior Center.

First, she's probably right: We really don't have the money.

Let's compare two outflows from our City's General Fund: The $60K-per-year salary for a trainer to help Santa Clara Seniors stay fit & healthy versus the ongoing cost of building & operating an NFL stadium merely to increase the San Francisco 49ers' own profitability

For the proposed stadium's $67,000,000 hit to the General Fund
**, you could hire a few trainers, fully staff a Northside Library & extend the hours at the Mission Reading Room -- all while reducing the City's operating deficit.

Why are we being asked to pay an astronomical $114M subsidy simply for the opportunity to gut our city's key services? Not only is the city operating under a hiring freeze - our General Fund will be suffering deficits of $8M to $13M through 2015.

t's true: We really don't have the money.

Thanks for your all of your support,
Bill Bailey, Treasurer

* When I used the same discount rate and terms shown in Exhibit 7 of the Term Sheet, the cost of the salary of that Senior Center trainer over the 40-year stadium lease came to about ONE SIXTIETH - yes, that's 1/60th - of what a subsidized 49ers stadium will cost our General Fund (Net Present Value in 2009 dollars.).

** See Slide #48 in the City Staff Term Sheet Presentation of June 2.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

49ers Stadium: The Planning Commission Punts

Santa Clarans,

The City Planning Commission voted 7-0 this evening to send the stadium's Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) - as insufficient as it is - to the City Council.

However, they did so only after dismantling a Staff-written resolution in order to include their own concerns - namely, the near-total lack of mitigation of the stadium's negative impacts.

I'm a newcomer to the proceedings of the Planning Commission, and I was at first disappointed that an FEIR this bad ever went forward at all. But a long-time observer of the Commission suggested that I consider it "half a loaf." Now, at least, the lack of environmental mitigation is on the record.

The Commission's job wasn't an easy one. The timestamp on the FEIR I opened up early this morning read "November 13th", so
this Commission - and we residents - had about five days to digest 368 more pages of revisions, comments and responses. At 4,400-some pages, I'm told that our EIR is way longer than the one San Francisco wrote for Hunters Point.

However, the Planning Commission correctly noted that they were dealing with an EIR - not with a project. The slick artist's rendition of a stadium on the display screen in Chambers this evening suggests that this distinction may have been lost on the platoon of 49ers representatives who were present - but in the end, the Commission put this on the right track.

Anyway: It's one thing to pass the EIR forward with a stripped-down resolution to Council. After that, as residents, however, we're really relying on the Planning Commission to take a hard look at how much damage this publicly-subidized stadium does to our community, especially north of U.S. 101 - and how little the 49ers are doing to fix that.

If this actually ends up as a project - let it receive more scrutiny than its EIR has.

The City Council, apparently, was determined to rush this defective proposal through the Commission so that they could take it up in regular session on Tuesday evening, December 8th. It looks like your Council got what it wanted - no matter how unfairly they treated the Planning Commission on this matter.

Santa Clara Plays Fair encourages all residents to contribute to the debate on D
ecember 8th - particularly those residents who would end up in the shadow of a publicly-subsidized stadium.

Thanks - especially - to concerned residents who spoke before the Planning Commission this evening.

In fact, I noted that Santa Clarans speaking in opposition to the subsidized stadium actually outnumbered Santa Clarans in favor - a very positive development.

Best regards,
Bill Bailey, Treasurer

Ref.: (First link; 8.74MB)

Monday, November 16, 2009

49ers Stadium: Rushing the Planning Commission

Dear Santa Clarans,

How is the work of the Planning Commission really advanced by a presentation on the Term Sheet of June 2nd? And by a showing of the 49ers stadium video last presented on July 14th? It's hard to describe this evening's Study Session in any other way.

Still, though, it was possible to correct some of the erroneous information still being disseminated by both the 49ers and stadium supporters in general - and to get some fine points from the Term Sheet out there for all to see.

For example:

1. Contrary to the claims of stadium supporters: The stadium DOES raid the City's General Fund of some $67 million over 40 years. (Slide #48). This occurs because of the SB 211 amendment to the RDA's authorization, as well as because of the abrogation of the Cooperation Agreement with the City. So much for the Guiding Principle of "integrity of City funds."

2. Thanks to one Planning Commissioner for reminding everyone of this: Neither the City,
nor the RDA, nor the Stadium Authority itself, has any power to demand a second NFL team in Santa Clara - the right of sublease to any second NFL team is reserved by the Term Sheet STRICTLY to the 49ers alone. (Page 24, Section 16.1). It's one more area in which we've lost control over a stadium we were told would be "ours" - even though that second team would improve the financial impact of the stadium on our city from 'lousy' to just 'bad.'

3. My favorite: Like a bad rash, the highly dubious claim of 26% mass transit utilization for a Santa Clara stadium (Page 175, Section is still being spread around - even though the 49ers themselves told the Hunters Point developers and planners that they'd never achieve that figure in San Francisco,
and even though Candlestick Park has an actual mass transit usage rate of less than 18.5%.

But our appreciation goes also to the Planning Commissioner who questioned whether the entire EIR could be fully read and understood in time to make a decision on Wednesday evening.

He's entitled to have some misgivings. The EIR runs to about 4,050 pages and takes up 120 MB on disk. And that's not even counting the public comments and additional data that have been received since this process began.

Which begs the question: This EIR has been out there for everyone's inspection since July 30th. Did the City make any effort to get this review process started by Commissioners at that time?

Or was the real purpose of this evening's presentations simply to rush the Planning Commission into rubber-stamping a highly-defective stadium project which contributes neither financially nor environmentally to the future of this City?

Santa Clara Plays Fair urges Planning Commissioners -
as City Commissioners and as Santa Clarans - to ask hard questions, both about the $114 MILLION subsidy as well as the total lack of environmental mitigation (Section 4.8.5, Page 204, top) being offered by the Environmental Impact Report which will come before them on Wednesday evening.

We're not in that big a hurry.

The City Council shouldn't be, either.

Thanks to everyone who attended and spoke at the study session this evening, and best regards,

Bill Bailey, Treasurer