Turnout is better than most Council sessions, but that’s not saying much. I expect at least a dozen speakers. The livestream can be found here.
2:00 PM – Mayor Chuck Reed is giving his best sales pitch in his plain-spoken, Midwestern way. Effectively, he’s saying that in exchange for the land, San Jose is getting $7 million for the land and $1.5 million per year for the general fund. (There’s a slide explaining this, I’ll put it up when I get the chance.)
2:10 – SJ’s Director of Economic Development Kim Walesh is further talking economic impact, states that ballpark is 3X that of 49ers stadium. (I am not in support or opposition to this statement, I just think it should be taken with a grain of salt.)
2:17 – Another staff member points out that A) Proceeds of land sale cannot go to the General Fund, and B) There are no sale or development opportunities for the land in the near future.
2:20 – Public comments are being taken first, then questions from the Council. Baseball San Jose principal Michael Mulcahy is first in support, followed by new Silicon Valley Chamber CEO Matthew Mahood. Arguments in favor are as much about economic growth as they are baseball.
2:23 – A lawyer representing Stand for San Jose is up next, saying that EIR and S-EIR are inadequate. A 65-page comment letter is being submitted.
2:25 – Rose Garden and Shasta/Hanchett neighborhood group representatives decry the use of public funds for the project. Argument is that “you can’t short sell bonded public land.”
2:28 – Another speaker with a short slide show, followed by Marc Morris, who says the whole thing is a bad deal.
I should point out that the anti-ballpark speakers are getting a smattering of applause.
2:33 – Neil Struthers of the South Bay Building and Construction Trades Council speaks in support, followed by Scott Knies of the San Jose Downtown Association, also in support. Those are the last public comments.
2:38 – SJ legal is responding in part to the comment letter by the Stand for San Jose lawyers, disagreeing with many of the conclusions made within the letter. Interestingly, the letter mentions Victory Court as an alternative site. I agree! How’s that coming along? Where’s the EIR?
2:42 – Councilman Sam Liccardo speaks first, obviously in favor of the ballpark and land deal. So does colleague Pete Constant. Constant addresses the matter of using these public funds for city services instead of the ballpark: “If we could, we would.” (Kind of a shaky argument there given the circumstances of redevelopment.) Cites the Arena as proof positive of economic impact of sports (which in the Sharks case is difficult to argue against).
2:47 – Councilwoman Madison Nguyen supports with a caveat: she asks if the referendum is necessary. Mayor Reed and City Attorney John Doyle say that it is, though Doyle says that it’s ultimately the City Council’s call. (Could be extremely controversial if there’s no vote.) Nguyen explains that she believes the public deserves the final say.
2:50 – Councilwoman Rose Herrera echoes something Liccardo said (paraphrasing), “You don’t come across $500 million privately funded projects everyday.”
2:51 – Councilman Donald Rocha (recently elected) asks about additional community use beyond the 10 days per year specified in the option agreement. Doyle responds that City kept a suite at the arena, but that was because it was publicly funded. It would be different at a privately financed ballpark. (The lack of built-out space/square footage at the ballpark may make this harder to negotiate as well.)
2:55 – Councilwoman Nancy Pyle reiterates that redevelopment proceeds can’t be used for city services or employee benefits. Asks about 1 year as opposed to 2 year option. OED staff says that 1 year was not long enough (!), 2 years is more reasonable. (Could that mean that the decision is that much further off in the distance?)
2:57 – Councilman Ash Kalra asks if City has received any indication from baseball that it will accelerate its process if City does. Reed says that owners meetings next week may decide, or meetings in January, etc. Doyle says that fate of redevelopment is also a factor. Doyle explains how funds are used, explained that $1 million has been spent on relocation costs. Staff reinforces notion that per option agreement, A’s cannot use land for anything other than a ballpark.
3:10 – Council is still trying to clarify the need for a referendum. Liccardo says that it’s still entirely up to the council. (Seems like they’re going back-and-forth between CYA and “Is it safe?”)
3:11 – Councilman Xavier Campos talks about continuing the history of the A’s and the benefit of that, even though he’s a Giants fan.
3:12 – Liccardo emphasizes that if option is not exercised, City keeps $200k and land.
3:13 – Reed bookends the Council statements with a closing argument in favor. Expresses desire not to have land sit idle for 10 years as a parking lot. Thanks Lew Wolff for the opportunity.
3:15 – Motion to approve option agreement passes 10-1 in favor. Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio, who I recall did not speak on the matter, is opposed.
That’s it for now.