Sacramento city memo says no better than 50/50 chance of court okaying rejection of Kings arena petitions

In a rush this morning, but did want to get this in: Arena opponents in Sacramento have filed a lawsuit to challenge the city clerk’s rejection of petitions to force a public vote on the Kings arena deal. That was expected. What was not expected: the surfacing of a memo from a city attorney saying he wasn’t sure the city would prevail in such a case.

In a confidential Jan. 10 memo to top city officials, obtained by The Bee, assistant City Attorney Matthew Ruyak wrote, “We cannot conclude with the requisite level of confidence that a court would more likely uphold an action to disqualify the initiative or its signatures.”

“(G)iven the fundamental right of the electorate to assert their voice through initiative … we cannot definitively conclude that there is a greater than 50 percent chance of prevailing in court should the City Council refuse to place the measure on the ballot,” Ruyak wrote.

All that really tells us is that you can’t predict judges, which we already knew. Still, it’s a reminder that this battle is far from over. Did you really think it ever would be?

11 comments on “Sacramento city memo says no better than 50/50 chance of court okaying rejection of Kings arena petitions

  1. While I very definitely feel Sacramento voters should be voting on this, I still feel like there were enough errors in the petition to disqualify it. They made a dismaying number of mistakes that went beyond mere formatting errors.

    There is one issue that, by itself, makes this worthy of a vote: The 2,700 parking spots, which have a stated value of $0 in the subsidy. The number I’ve heard is that these spots are worth $15,000 each, which makes the lot worth $40.5M. That is public property, for sure. I own a piece of that lot.

    There are other reasons we should vote on this, of course, but just this one is enough. In the second lawsuit that has been ongoing since last April or so, this is one of their issues. I can see that lawsuit prevailing based on just that single point.

    The size of this subsidy is approaching $400M. We will borrow $304M, not $212M, and there are other properties already included in the value (about $30M worth), plus the signage rights we’re giving away, plus the value of this parking lot. Yup, it’s not $258M; it’s now close to $400M. Damned right I think we should vote on that.

  2. If the remaining parking places, all 3,500 of them, are worth $212 million (using the city’s numbers, inaccurate though they may be), then the 2,700 parking places should be worth at least $164 million.

  3. It’s interesting that the Bee only reported this memo after the Sacramento News and Review did. SNR was very hard on the City Clerk, which is a bit unfair, as she’s in a terrible position. Sacramento has a deputy city manager working on the issue full-time and the City Council voted 7-2 to proceed. Throwing the issue to the courts isn’t such a bad idea under those circumstances.

  4. Since the details came out this week that showed this arena will cost $19M/year to service the debt, but will produce only $2.7M/year in tax revenues, it seems like more people now want guarantees regarding the “ancillary” development.

    Why do they call it “ancillary” when the deal absolutely makes no sense without it? I personally think they’ll ask for more subsidies to build that development, which will dilute the effects that development may have.

    We’re walking straight into a spinning propeller, and some of us don’t even see it coming.

  5. Did you catch this one out of SF, Neil?

    I’d say they’re just about done there.

  6. Mike,

    ALL of the $2.7 million is from the “ancillary” development. The revenue from the arena itself is earmarked to pay back a portion of the $9 million that the city will be losing from its general fund by redirecting the parking revenue. They expect the parking revenue to service the debt. (Let’s see – currently there is $9 million revenue from the parking …. more than half the spaces will be given away or destroyed …. add that up – AHHH …. we’ll have $19 million left over to service the debt!)

  7. I think that $90M means a lot for that project. The costs were already so sky-high for it.

    I guess there’s a chance GSW could threaten to relocate, but that goes without saying, as usual.

  8. The Kings and Darrell Steinberg have joined the lawsuit over the petition, and I think their reason may actually hurt their own cause: “We’ve already invested too much.”

    I can really see that argument backfiring in a huge way.

    Here’s the article:

  9. Neil, it turns out that the Warriors are at least calling a time-out on SF now. The increased costs of that location wasn’t the only strike; the public was about to earn their right to vote on this issue.

    I just don’t see that arena happening. I can’t imagine a more expensive place to build it. The current site would be far cheaper.

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