Merc lays out the remaining challenges for SJ

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.

8 thoughts on “Merc lays out the remaining challenges for SJ

  1. Any chance ATT relationship with the Giants could be effecting the reluctance to sell? Also, if MLB knows that San Jose doesn’t own the land yet in two months could that hurt San Jose’s chances to get approval?

  2. separate the land that’s required for the ballpark from what needs to be acquired for the Coleman extension regardless of the ballpark. San Jose just sold 2 downtown parcels to free up the cash to buy the remaining ballpark parcels. This happened the day after DuPuy had lunch with Reed and Wolff—look at that action as a tipping of the hat—you don’t move forward at this point in time unless you are feeling fairly confident of what MLB will do.

    Also, if nothing else this points out to MLB the challenges that Oakland will face in acquiring land for any of their proposed sites–SJ has been doing this over the past 4 years starting with Stephens Meats–it doesn’t happen overnight and Oakland would have a long road filled with the same obstacles as SJ—

  3. @jesse… I doubt there is any relationship between AT&T’s reluctance to sell and the naming rights deal in San Francisco. But who nows. Reluctance is probably more about where they can move nearby.
    I doubt that MLB wants everything owned before novign forward, if that is the case Fremont and Oakland are no where near ready.

  4. ED actions would require a vote? Can you reference the SJ Muni code for that one R.M.? I don’t think there would be anything wrong/illegal with obtaining a land parcel/business via ED and then leasing the land to a private entity. I could be wrong.

    AT&T inherited the naming rights to the Giants ballpark via their acquisition of SBC/Pac Bell. Agree with Jeffrey that the “relationship” has no bearing on this whatsoever. There’s enough empty commercial space in SJ that finding a new location for AT&T operations shouldn’t be a problem.

  5. OT: Something I don’t understand in Attendance Watch: How can the A’s have a higher attendance than last year through 14 games but a lower average?

  6. @baycommuter – They were reversed. Fixed.

    @Tony D. – It’s not in the code, but as I’ve mentioned before it’s a political CYA. You can’t wish the city’s cautious approach away.

    BTW, in another thread someone asked about the lack of line breaks. You’ll need to add the “br” tag to make it work.

  7. ML, you mentioned that ED would be a non-starter for an Oakland stadium, yet is acceptable for a SJ stadium?

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