As expected, the Santa Clara city council approved its environmental report on a proposed San Francisco 49ers stadium last night, setting June 8 as the date for a public vote on the measure. As not expected:
- The owners of Great America, the amusement park whose parking lot would be the site of the new stadium, sued the city to block the deal, saying Santa Clara had invalidated the environmental review process by entering into a binding agreement to back the project before the environmental report was done. The legal brief released yesterday by Cedar Fair goes on to state: “As the California Supreme Court has recognized, when a city reaches a binding, detailed agreement with a private developer and publicly commits resources and governmental prestige to that project, the city’s reservation of CEQA review until a later, final approval stage is unlikely to convince public observers that the agency fully considered the project’s environmental consequences.”
- Santa Clarans for Economic Progress, the Astroturf group funded by the 49ers that was behind last month’s pro-stadium mailing, announced that it would start gathering petition signatures to get its own initative on the June ballot. A petition-backed initiative would have the advantage of not being subject to environmental review rules — meaning it could give the 49ers an end run around the Cedar Fair lawsuit. No word just yet on what happens if both measures make the ballot, and one wins and one loses.