It's taken nearly two years. But someone is shining some bright lights on the completely insupportable claims that the San Francisco 49ers have made concerning the massive traffic jams and private-parking mess they'll be causing in Santa Clara. If you can, pick up a copy of today's Sunday San Francisco Chronicle, and see:
49ers' stadium plan stirs debate over parking
The Stadium EIR was the perfect example of consultants telling a client just what they were paying to hear - but those cooked numbers did a great disservice to Santa Clara and to Santa Clarans. Now, a real traffic analyst from Walnut Creek, Mr. Steve Abrams, has analyzed the 49ers' claims the way this should have been before the team ever presented their EIR. He's done so at no cost to anyone.
The issue of the massive traffic jams on NFL game days - and the use of a 160-officer traffic force to manage about 20,000 private vehicle-trips - is rooted in one of the biggest howlers we heard in the fall of 2009: The claim by the San Francisco 49ers that mass transit utilization would be 26% at a stadium here at the same time that it was less than 19% at Candlestick Park.
Keep in mind that CalTrain at the time was going through a severe financial crisis. Only this March, before that crisis had abated somewhat, CalTrain was actually proposing to close College Park, Santa Clara and Lawrence Stations - the three stations closest to the proposed Santa Clara stadium site!**
Bye, bye, mass transit crowd.
If you have a moment, please give a fair reading to what Mr. Abrams has written about the 49ers' traffic jam plans. The increase in private vehicles packing our streets north of U.S. 101 is not merely incremental - it will have a serious effect on the level of service, or LOS, at intersections which even the 49ers themselves were finally forced to acknowledge are already among the worst in our county.
As for the statement that the 49ers took the issue up "conservatively," and that the infrastructure here is "equal to or superior to any in the NFL," I'll simply refer everyone to this one figure from the 49ers own EIR. I'll then ask, "If our infrastructure is as good as you're claiming, why are you closing four streets, barricading 31 intersections, and demanding identification from residents in the Agnews area as they try to return to their own homes?"
Note that none of this is required at Candlestick Park today. Note also that the 49ers will be reimbursing us only a portion of what game-day traffic management - and public safety - will actually be costing us. In view of the shootings and the beating at Candlestick last weekend, we're entitled to ask hard questions on that second point alone.
At any rate, four years from now, let's ask Santa Clarans who make their homes in the Agnews and Lafayette corridors if the 49ers told the truth in 2009.
By then, of course, it will be way too late.
Santa Clarans, you have a stake in this wherever you reside in our city - but if you live north of U.S. 101, this will affect just about every aspect of your daily lives, both during the construction of a subsidized NFL stadium and in its operations after that. Santa Clara Plays Fair urges all Santa Clarans to inform themselves on just what the stadium subsidy is truly costing all of us, and not just in dollars.
Please take a moment to share your concerns with the Mayor and City Council here, and contact Santa Clara Plays Fair anytime if you have questions about the EIR or about the stadium subsidy itself.
Thanks for your continuing support,
** Front page, San Jose Mercury News, Feb. 4, 2011