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December 09, 2009
Santa Clara 49ers stadium takes one step forward, one back
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.
It's definitely an end-run around the Cedar Fair challenge - but it also short-circuits any CEQA challenges that any other citizens may attempt to bring.
So, what are the Stadium Subsidizers so afraid of?
Last night in City Council Chambers, they spent a shameless three hours telling us that the EIR was just fine, covered every base, it's a formality, "don't-even-have-a-project-yet-so what-are-you-worried-about?"...
...and they THEN proceed to tell us, "By the way, we're circumventing Council's own ballot measure" - all because they don't want to be answerable to that same environmental review process.
The same scheming and plotting that led to the Confidentiality Agreement of May, 2007 - and the hijacking of Senate Bill 43 in late June - has given a lot of Santa Clarans even less reason to trust this process.
Also, there's one more ball in the air: Cedar Fair is probably still squeezing the 49ers to buy the Great America Theme Park.
Allowing the San Francisco 49ers to control Santa Clara's "Entertainment District" would be a complete disaster for our City.
Santa Clara Plays Fair
Our city attorney said last night that if there are 2 competing measures on the ballot, and both win, the one that received more votes would take precedence. No word on what happens if one wins and one loses, or if both win but on 2 different election dates. I think the 49ers are going to try to pressure our city council into going with their ballot measure, which will not have input from Santa Clarans concerned about making the ballot language accurate and complete. If the mailer that the 49ers sent into our homes a few days ago is any indication, the 49ers will write a ballot initiative that fails (on purpose) to mention the $330 million contribution from the Stadium Authority, because they don't want Santa Clarans to fully understand how much money Santa Clara is being asked for ($444 million, or 47% of the project). The 49ers continue to promote the myth that Santa Clara is only being asked for a small amount of the construction costs.