When it’s hard to make a deal
Relationships can be complicated. Especially in business. What may seem like a simple, straight line path to getting things accomplished can often end up needlessly difficult and mindbogglingly frustrating thanks to various rules among governmental and non-governmental bodies. So it goes for the Sharks, A’s, and City of San Jose. A report by the Merc’s Tracy Seipel on Friday alludes to just how difficult it is.
“All we’re asking for is a plan,” said Greg Jamison, chief executive of SVSE. “We’ve had meetings and discussions and we are still waiting for the layout and overall strategy as to what is going to happen” with traffic and parking.
Don Gralnek, Sharks executive vice president and general counsel, added that the team also worries about the impacts of other future projects in the Diridon Station area, including plans to add BART and high-speed rail.
“It’s not a comment on the A’s proposal,” Gralnek said. “This is about trying to protect our customers’ experience at the HP Pavilion.”
The sentiments above appear to belie the Merc’s headline (“Sharks join chorus of groups concerned about plans for ballpark in downtown San Jose”), no? To get to the heart of the after, it’s worth reading the comments submitted to the City’s planning department, all of which have been complied into a single, 147-page PDF.
This problem could be pretty easily remedied if MLB simply got off its ass and made a ruling on territorial rights. Right now the City and Diridon area affected parties (such as SVSE) can only talk in theoreticals, since they don’t have the opinion of the party that will actually affect everyone, the A’s. That’s extremely problematic when you’re trying to lock in not only an EIR but also a larger development plan for the area. (Both processes are happening in parallel, with frequent overlap.)
SVSE/Sharks want above all two maintain the viability of HP Pavilion. Forget for the moment about the various family ties between Tom McEnery and Lew Wolff. Favors can only go far before you start to give up too much. In this case, there are over 3,000 spaces that are at stake. Without guidance, the City is entertaining the idea of not having any parking built, or any other new road infrastructure for that matter. That’s what is raising the ire of SVSE and many others. It seems impractical that a new TPMP (Transportation and Parking Management Program) could alone mitigate the new stresses that would be placed existing roads around Diridon.
The simple solution could be to build a new garage where the existing arena main lot is located, west of HP Pavilion. The garage fits the multiple-use strategy by its placement close to the train station. Unforttunately, even a very aggressive construction schedule could heavily affect the arena’s parking availability. Somewhere, temporary replacement parking would have to be built. Many are residents would prefer that no parking garages be built in the six blocks between the arena and the ballpark site. The Downtown Association would prefer that a new garage be built within the downtown core on the other side of CA-87.
And that’s not all. Since the area is expected to have a major uptick in terms of pedestrian traffic, many are calling for grade separating people from cars, an infrastructure change that would create the need for perhaps several footbridges.
The easiest way to handle both the foot and car traffic issue is to incorporate both parking and grade separation into the six block area. Transform one-way Montgomery Street into a pedestrian throughfare, while giving development rights to a potentially interested party (I’ll give you one guess) as long as the developer commits to building both the pedestrian bridges some of the backfill parking that will be needed. Of course, those conversations can’t take place right now except in the ether and maybe in some back rooms. Grant T-rights, and suddenly everything can be done out in the open, with cost estimates, scheduling, and impact assessments. No worries about sunshine law violations. No awkward situations where the A’s, who would clearly want and need parking if a ballpark were built, might have to “nudge” their friends at the Sharks to make a request on their behalf, one that would clearly benefit both. Until MLB makes a decision, so much of the planning process remains up in the air. It’s too bad.