Let it be said that as much as the sports and editorial sections of the Merc favor an A’s move to San Jose, the straight news side has been evenhanded the whole way through. Today this is evidenced by Tracy Seipel’s piece summarizing the remaining land acquisitions and tasks needed to get a ballpark in at Diridon.
While the city’s been banking land in hopes of having the funds to lay the groundwork for the ballpark, there are a few related projects that will not only help the ballpark, but area residents as well. Chief among these is the Autumn Parkway extension, which will help better route fans coming from the north side and I-880. Instead of bringing A’s fans along The Alameda, they would instead take the Coleman Avenue exit, going towards downtown before turning south along Autumn. Seipel doesn’t mention, however, that this improvement has been part of the Diridon Area Plan, pre-dating the ballpark. Circulation from the residential neighborhoods have been clamoring for this, especially since the Market Gateway (Target) opened north of the Caltrain right-of-way. There are no surprises here, and the project’s been in the public consciousness for nearly a decade. So if you’re asking if the A’s will be the sole beneficiaries of the project, the answer is clearly and objectively no.
More concerning is the specter of eminent domain, which could be required in either the area slated to become Autumn Parkway or the ballpark site. As long as the remaining ballpark parcels stay in negotiation, there’s a small chance of ED being required. That’s why city officials aren’t taking a chance on not moving forward without a ballot measure, since any ED actions would also require a vote. While the holdouts can’t be faulted for playing hardball, it must be thought that they’re waiting for a better price and moving compensation, not more. If the thought is that one of the parties simply aren’t looking to move, we would’ve heard about it by now. I’ve made it clear that I don’t like and wouldn’t prefer eminent domain, though in the ballpark’s case there are no homes threatened by ED. If dozens of homes were being displaced, as was the case with the arena, I’d be steadfastly against it. In this case, it may just be one or two companies trying to speculate at taxpayer expense. It should be noted that the holdouts all bought their properties long before the city designated the Diridon area as part of Greater Downtown, which only served to bump up their respective values.
Now if you’re wondering if the city has been taken surprise by any of this, don’t. They’ve been plugging away at this for several years, and every possible obstacle and challenge has been identified, with many already overcome. That’s the route that San Jose, stuck behind the eight ball thanks to the T-rights matter, has been forced to take. Now let’s hope that cooler heads prevail, so that it doesn’t end up a mess as the Nats’ ballpark saga was.