San Jose City Council Session 11/08/11 Liveblog

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.

Council Chambers as of 1:45 PM. Ceremonial items are first up, agenda item should be taken up at approximately 2 PM.

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.)

Mayor Reed's support slide explaining the economic impact of the ballpark on San Jose

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.

80 thoughts on “San Jose City Council Session 11/08/11 Liveblog

  1. Thanks for being there… Incidentally, I just left Victory Court.

  2. I pass by VC several times a week, and always envision a new ballpark there. I only wish Lew would.

  3. Off topic entirely: it takes more than envisioning, you know like actually competing the process that this story is covering (or starting it in earnest)

  4. Isn”t “Stand for San Jose” the Giants’ astroturf group?…Something tells me the A’s are going to need a 75-25 vote to get rid of the territorial rights. But Wolff during one of the last games sounded in favor of such a vote so maybe he already has a good idea of the outcome.

  5. I think I remember, when the arena opened, a small group of protestors chanting “Bread not Circuses!” or some other such nonsense. There’s always going to be a small but vocal group of people opposing something like a ballpark or arena. It’s not like San Jose doesn’t do its part on things like low-income housing. There’s a low income apartment complex, just built, not far from my house. I always see a satellite dish on one of the balconies.

  6. Does this need a second reading a month from now like an ordinance or is this deal done (possibly pending a referendum)?

  7. Thanks a lot, ML. Was Wolff in attendance?

  8. ML, good job on the coverage. 10-1 vote? Not unanimous? What kid of message is that sending to BS?. Not surprised that a CC man was a Giants fan. I’ll bet most of them are but just won’t admit it.

  9. @pjk – It’s done. If/when Wolff is able to act on the option, the Council would also have to approve a purchase agreement for the land containing the same terms.

    @Dude – No. AFAIK Wolff has never been in attendance for any ballpark-related sessions, neither have any A’s employees.

    @jk-usa – Politicians tend to make quick allegiances when they smell good deals. Nothing wrong with that.

  10. re: Not unanimous?

    …Like looking at a report card with 10 A’s and a C and honing right in the on C. What kind of message does 10-1 send? That 90+ percent of the city’s leadership is in favor. What was the vote on VC’s EIR? Not unanimous, if I recall. Now, we’re hearing the EIR process never took place and we’ve seen no evidence to refute that. What kind of message doe THAT send to Selig?

  11. Thx ML- in Dallas on biz – appreciate the coverage- curious- did Susan Hammer or Michael M address the council? Also, how did the discussion on the referedum end?

  12. @GoA’s – Mulcahy spoke first. There was some curiosity about the referendum, but I didn’t get the feeling that anyone was willing to push for the project without the vote.

  13. I know the VC EIR wasn’t unanimous (6-2 yes), I was there, and you guys rubbed it in at the time.
    Where was all the SJ baseball fans there today? We packed the chambers plus an overflow room in the O.

  14. @jk-usa – They’ve shown up for evening meetings. This one was in the middle of the day. It’s easy to pack the first meeting of its kind with pent-up demand. The hard part is maintaining vigilance.

  15. Was Oakland’s VC meeting at night when people don’t have to work? Obviously, we’re all still working right now and chose not to take the day off to attend the city council meeting.

  16. After listening to some of the “anti-speakers”, it’s clear the A’s will have to spend some serious resources educating some of the voters. That speaker that said, “well if we offer the A’s something, then Oakland will come back and offer something plus….” Somewhat clueless if you ask me. They just cannot see the big picture, and all the benefits a $500M privately funded project would bring.

  17. @fc- keep in ind the folks who show up to speak doesn’t necessarily represent a majority- last year the ballpark was polling 60-40- no different than the ‘9ers stadium in SC- there will always be a vocal minority-

  18. I hear ya GoA’s. I fully expect the ballpark to be approved by the voters. It’s pretty clear though in listening to the speakers that residents don’t like the idea of the city spending money, whether it be from the general fund, or RDA, on what they consider an unnecessary project. Definitely good to see speakers representing labor and the downtown merchants.

  19. Also, as I’ve pointed out before, people are wired to fear loss more than welcome gain.

  20. ML, thank for the great coverage!
    Couple of things: did you catch the name of the lawyer for Stand Up for San Jose? Also, it’s possible that the 2 year option is a cushion in case something happens with the A’s leaving than a delayed decision.

  21. Only reasonable solution: Vote out Pierluigi Oliverio!

  22. And vote out Oakland City Council persons Nancy Nadel and Ignacio De La Fuente who were against the VC EIR.

  23. @jk- considering there is no VC EIR guess the minority won out in Oaktown

  24. I was going to ask, when and from where did Oliverio get elected. I don’t recall him being on the council two years ago during the Quakes negotiations for Airport West. Is he new?

    • I was going to ask, when and from where did Oliverio get elected. I don’t recall him being on the council two years ago during the Quakes negotiations for Airport West. Is he new?

      Don’t be to harsh on P.O. He blogs at SJInside and I believe he represents Willow Glenn. P.O. needs to look good for all the geriatrics that support him. But trust me, he’ll probably have a beer(s) and huge smile on Opening Day 2015 at Cisco Field ;o).

  25. Another step to the finish line for SJ, while Oakland stalls and it’s supporters left in a stupor nitpicking the stupidest details instead of doing something about it. Years and years of the same old, same old will show its outcome soon! 🙂

  26. @jk- don’t take the bait dude.

  27. I do find it interesting that a rep from Shasta- hatchett neighborhood comes out opposed- ballpark leads to Autumn parkway which ultimately takes traffic off the Alameda and would befit that general area

  28. Well, looks like a done deal. I’ll try but I can’t envision rooting for the San Jose A’s. Doesn’t carry the same swagger imo. But in 10 yrs time, nobody will think any different.

  29. Wow, watching the news on channel 2 tonight they were using Mayor Quan as an example of why ranked choice voting sucks… Is she that unpopular? I walked by the occupy Oakland crew today, it was like a makeshift campground, but nothing to recall a mayor over (IMHO).
    Anyone inside Oakland know if there is more to it?

  30. @Jeffery The whole issue with Chief Batts got the ball rolling, I believe. She was viewed as soft on crime before the whole Occupy protest debacle, now she just looks reactionary.

  31. @ JK – Yes, please listen to David, your Ahab brotheren, and continue to do nothing. Status quo at its finest!
    @ David – So your only response to JQ’s bungled handling of a) Batts retirement b) the back and forth on OO and c) the stuck in neutral VC venture is not to be a hater because she’s Asian? Really?

  32. Unlike some sideline cheerleaders here, i took the initiative to send P.O. an email ( : Hello Oliverio – I saw that you were the lone dessenting vote in yesterday’s council meeting on the matter of the A’s proposed land deal for a privately funded stadium. I would like to understand your rationale behind the vote.

  33. Checked out the video, I wonder what the dynamics are for that anti-ballpark group Stand Up for San Jose; originally, they had some family law attorney as their spokesperson and now the lawyer who spoke today has roots in SF and in dealing with real estate.
    Makes me wonder if the Giants are indeed taking a backdoor attempt at preventing a move because the owners won’t agree with their cause.

  34. Of course they are. That’s what astroturf groups like Stand up for San Jose do. They’re all backdoor organizations for pussies like the Giants who can’t fight their own fights properly. And in the end they’ll lose. The A’s owners are richer than the Giants owners and will outspend them to make this happen. Just like how all elections are won.

  35. “The A’s owners are richer than the Giants owners and will outspend them to make this happen.” Can they do the same with the Willingham situation?

  36. Dan, it’s not a question of whether the Giants are meddling in these affairs, it’s at what tenacity they’re going to pursue the matter. To me, it looks like they are putting some real skin in the game.

  37. Just a comment by nr5667 posted on SFGate about this meeting/vote, and a view shared by many:

    “Let’s see here…

    Spend a billion on an unnecessary airline terminal? Check

    Spend hundreds of millions on an unnecessary new city hall? Check

    Spend millions on an unused south San Jose police station? Check

    Spend millions on land that may not be used for a new stadium? Check

    Oh, and lay off some cops, ’cause we don’t have the money to pay for them. Thanks, guys! San Jose is a great place to live, but I wish our elected officials would lose their inferiority complex. I’m quite happy being a boring place to live.”

  38. @jk–…” and a view shared by many” I for one don’t share it so tell me where you get your data that it is a “view” shared by many?

  39. What’s JK doing now? Cutting and pasting anti-San Jose ballpark comments from newspaper chat threads? What will he think of next? The A’s were Oakland’s to lose. And it looks like that is going to happen, regardless of whether Bud lets the A’s into San Jose.

  40. Not a single SJ resident I know (family, friends, co-workers) shares that view either, so what the @#$%& are you talking about!? Why don’t you worry about Oakland’s stadium effort (or lack thereof) rather than trying pathetically to bring down SJ’s!?

  41. Yep, instead of calling Quan and the rest of them and screaming “What are you going to do for the A’s! Let’s get moving!” it’s bash San Jose. as if defeating San Jose means Oakland wins.

  42. What, “spend millions on a empty arena?” didn’t want any of that?

    SFGate….. The pulse of the South Bay.

  43. This won’t make the front page of the Merc, but today I officially declare WAR with Better Sense SJ. My weapon of choice: the truth!

  44. …As we again saw yesterday, San Jose’s ballpark development process remains out in the open for all to see, warts and all. Oakland? If it even has any ballpark process, it’s behind closed doors and has stayed there for quite some time.

  45. didn’t Wolff purchase a bunch of land in Fremont? Didn’t he have ol’ boy Bud come out for a press conference in Fremont? How’d that work out? So, Wolff now has a option to buy more land, for a stadium he can’t build? nothing new here at all!

  46. I’m beginning to think that from the start, Oakland’s “ballpark process” was just a CYA move in case their constituents got real mad about the A’s leaving. They want to be able to say “See, we tried! Those meany carpetbagger owners didn’t want to work with us!” I think most regular folk out of the loop would probably believe it.
    This sorta goes along with my thoughts that they’ve been trying to drag this out, hoping to get another year or two on the Coliseum lease for whatever is deemed “fair market value.”

  47. re: drag this out
    …or, drag it out and wait for Wolff to throw his hands up in the air and sell to that mythical magic billionaire who wants to donate a $500 mill ballpark to Oakland without regard to whether he loses or makes money. Good luck with that one…

  48. @David – You’re missing the point. San Jose, with no guarantee of being able to land the team, is moving forward, out in the open, to get the A’s.
    Oakland is not. We don’t even know if Oakland has made any progress since they announced VC as the location. Have they contacted parcel owners about buying the land? Have they moved forward with the EIR? Have they investigated the infrastructure changes that would be required? Have they been able to say they have come up with a skeleton of a financing plan that would work? This is all just repeated on this blog over any over again, yet no one from the Oakland-Only side can come up with answers or reasons why this is the case. I think the fact that we haven’t heard any leaks of the talks between Oakland and MLB means that they are no longer, or never really were “working directly with MLB.” Don’t you think if things were going well, or at all, someone from the Oakland side would want people to know it?
    As an aside, yes, they aren’t really the ones who have to come up with a plan to finance it. However, they are the underdog in this situation and anything they can do that would help prove their location is the best option should be their number one priority in their stadium process. Being out in the open? That would be huge in their efforts.

  49. @LS – Gag order + Hostile ownership = silence.

  50. @pjk- I don’t even think the city cares that much to hope for a mythological new ownership. They aren’t even trying, whether it’s because they can’t or won’t. If they did, they’d be trying to get their ducks in a row so they could tell MLB, “Look, we can make this work, it’s just those darned owners don’t want to!”
    Overturning the territorial rights is going to be super easy if there is no legit option in Oakland. However, if you give the MLB owners a presentation that shows legitimately how Oakland could work, no pie-in-the-sky involved? I think you’d have a hard time getting the required votes.

  51. So Wolff is not being told anything about Oakland’s secret plan. Sounds a bit hard to believe, especially since the commissioner is a long-time friend. “Sorry Lew, I’m not telling you anything at all about what Oakland is doing in regard to YOUR franchise.” OK. Wolff owns the team,. not Oakland.

  52. @David – Gag order is an easy excuse when you don’t have anything to say.
    And maybe I’m wrong. Maybe stuff has leaked. As ML pointed out, reporters aren’t focusing on Victory Court anymore. Maybe they heard something.

  53. re: Gag order is an easy excuse when you don’t have anything to say.

    ..He shoots, he scores!!

  54. @LS/David – If something leaked, we would’ve heard about it. Oakland doesn’t exactly run the tightest messaging ship.

  55. If I read that properly, that tells me there are no messages going back and forth, correct?

  56. @LS – No, I mean that if anything major occurred, progress, we would’ve heard about it. Not the small stuff.

  57. LS, I said the same thing about VC being a CYA move two years ago. It was obvious from the start when the first landowners said they’d never been approached nor had any interest in selling that the city was just going through the motions so they could say, “here see we tried.” Fact is their VC plan has thus far been even more hollow than some have accused Wolff of being with the 66th Ave North plan. At least Wolff contacted the land owners north of 66th Ave and tried to negotiate with them.

  58. For those who want the team to stay in Oakland – I feel you, but we need to be realistic here. The State and City are so strapped for cash right now (as well as SJ) that private financing is the only thing making it a possibility to begin with. That being said, SJ is in a much better position to help us build a stadium, and it’s not as if you won’t be able to go to the games. If the BART extension comes through along with Cisco Field, we’re basically talking an extra hour or less that you’ll have to travel. The market demographics also favor SJ (bandwagon fans unfortunately propel the market quite a bit).

  59. If you are of the mindset that you want the team to stay in the Bay Area, this is a good, needed development. Now I’d feel really good if those last two AT & T and Aeris parcels were snatched up. I think A’s fans need to just believe there is real help on the horizon, and knowing we may get a stadium that belongs to us, for the first time in the A’s Bay Area history, would be amazing.

  60. daveybaby- I couldn’t have said it better myself. This gives some sort of hope.

  61. No Leaks coming from Oakland would be suprising,except for the fact that there most likely is nothing to leak.
    San Jose has the momentum, and if Oakland was serious, somebody would of leaked at least a tid-bit, just to show Oakland was still in the game, gag order or not. San Jose is as others have mentioned is being transparent with their process. I am not against Oakland, which would actually be my first choice, but they are doing nothing to show they are concerned about the A’s leaving.

  62. If it is true that Oakland is working behind the scenes, then somebody needs to get fired. Keeping that information from the public not only makes them look like fools, it’s counterproductive. I’d like to think they’re just stupid, but it’s pretty apparent they think we are the dumb ones.

  63. @ gojohn10 – “Keeping that information from the public not only makes them look like fools, it’s counterproductive. I’d like to think they’re just stupid, but it’s pretty apparent they think we are the dumb ones.” As they said in Moneyball movie…”Welcome to Oakland”; where transparency is opaque as brick wall, the government is inept and only cares about their own political career, and the citizens passive and complacent with the status quo…..

  64. Seems to me we already know Oakland’s plan: Borrow $150 million from MLB for infrastructure improvements and property acquisitions (repayment? deal with that later) and then expect the A’s to build the $450 million ballpark on their own dime. Unfortunately, the A’s are not cooperating with what Oakland wants from them.

  65. Wow looks like a huge turnout!!!! All those Giant fans are really excited about the San Jose A’s!!! 🙂

  66. middle-of-the-day meeting, Eric. I emailed my statement of support to my councilman and the mayor – no need for me to personally be there.

  67. Or… how was that turn out in Oakland for the meeting about land acquisition? Oh, wait…

  68. @Jeffrey – when that meeting is scheduled; do know that the house will be packed!

  69. Psss…Eric, David..WAKE UP!!

  70. There’s no doubt that a meeting would be absolutely packed by the citizens, if it ever happens. It’s just a shame that the passion Pro-Oaklanders exhibit is not reciprocated in its city leaders.

  71. Trust me, WHEN groundbreaking occurs for Cisco Field in downtown SJ, its gonna be packed! I’ll be downtown, as well as family and friends. A mid-day council meeting approving a proposed land deal not packed? WHO CARES!

  72. @TonyD–“WHEN groundbreaking occurs for Cisco Field in downtown SJ, its gonna be packed!”
    I doubt it dude. If heaven forbid it happens, it would be mid-day with some politicians, Wolff and a few fans like yourslef. It will be disappointingly small. TRUST ME. Every Oakland meeting has had huge crowds, and how bout that Money Ball Premier?

  73. This is an imbecilic debate.

  74. Mine is larger. Wait, what are we arguing about again?

  75. re: when that meeting is scheduled; do know that the house will be packed!

    …they certainly don’t pack the stadium in Oakland for games but they’ll pack a public meeting?

  76. Hey Guys, I was just ribbing Eric… No big whoop.

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