San Jose 2/22/12 Planning Commission Meeting Liveblog

9:15 PM – Appeal denied, Planning Commission approves permit 6-0, Chair Hope Cahan not present. Vice Chair Bit-Badai urges Earthquakes to continue working with residents.

9:07 PM – In a follow-up to an issue brought up earlier, City staff indicates that FAA audit will likely not be successful, and would have little financial impact. Commissioner Kamkar wants to approve project. 

9:03 PM – Commissioners have been speaking, trying to define scope of what they are discussing. Commissioner Platten emphasizes that the soccer stadium is not a harbinger of what will happen for the ballpark. The issues are: 1) Adequacy of noise study, 2) Proper communication with other governing bodies, 3) Proper communication with community. Platten urges permit to be passed and appeal denied.

8:52 PM – Newhall resident asks for SoundPLAN study in order to be thorough. Asks for the gap between the rim of the seating bowl and the roof to be closed. Re-emphasizes that residents are not against Quakes or stadium in general.

8:48 PM – Lew Wolff implores commission to make a decision and not delay things any further. Planning commissioner Kamkar asks about a 31-foot sound wall that was in the original EIR that is not in the new stadium concept, and the use of aluminum risers. Keith Wolff says that the design of the stadium blocks the noise so the sound wall won’t be needed, and that as long as the aluminum risers are constructed without gaps they should not leak noise.

8:44 PM – Keith Wolff is taking his five minutes, Lew Wolff at his side. Keith Wolff mentions that the City came to the Quakes with the site, not the other way around. Talks about concessions made (no concerts, distributed sound, meetings with residents four times a year).

8:43 PM – Last two speakers are in favor, after Marc Morris (S/HNPA) also implores more study. Planning commissions should have questions for the applicant next, followed by the vote.

8:29 PM – Quick point – SJC Airport noise contours are set to expand for 2017 and 2027. The Newhall neighborhood would fall within the 60 dB noise contour. That’s a good deal greater than the “comfortable” 55 dB ambient noise, though not double (+10 dB = double). 

8:15 PM – A group of Newhall Neighborhood Association residents have put together a presentation about the neighborhood. They appear to be sequenced to complete the preso. Apparently soccer has impacted quality of life in their “quiet” neighborhood. Planning commissioner asks what “quiet” means, considering the location near trains and planes. Speaker says he is referring to loud bursts of noise (crowd cheer, drums). Another speaker says that ambient noise is <50 dbA, 90% of the time. Noise with stadium would go up 862% (disturbing peak events of >58 dbA) with stadium. Use of aluminum risers as opposed to concrete (at Home Depot Center) may increase noise. Newhall residents are arguing that the stadium approved via the EIR are not what the Quakes are presenting, and that time should be taken to reflect that change.

8:09 PM – Someone from MLS in New York flew out to speak. Big surprise there. Mentions that this is the first time he’s spoken for a stadium project in which he wasn’t asking for public money.

8:08 PM – Supporter quote of the night: “I’m married to a Brazilian and I would appreciate it if you could work to keep our marriage together.” 

7:54 PM – More supporters have spoken. Balandra is part of the Shasta Hanchett Park Neighborhood Association, as are Jonathan Martinez and Helen Chapman. Sounds like at least a few individuals are practicing their arguments for the next round. As Chapman speaks, several fans hold up “BUILD IT NOW” signs. S/HNPA’s argument is that the neighborhoods and the process should be respected, and that their arguments are not against soccer or the Quakes in general. I get the feeling that the fans don’t want to hear anymore about process.

7:40 PM – Terri Balandra, citing her own question of Lew Wolff at the Rotary Club luncheon, asks Wolff to “go overboard” to mitigate light and noise. Also mentions an FAA audit which may show that the City misused federal funds on Airport West in that the funds were supposed to go towards potential airport expansion and eventually did not. Those funds may have to be returned, and if that’s the case Balandra asks if the land deal could fall through. My instant response to that is that the City did evaluate using the land for expansion, but the project was too costly and not cost-effective. Because of this they’ve chosen to sell the land to Wolff. If someone wants to extract blood from that turnip, they might as well try to build a time machine to send everyone back to 2007, before the economic crash. Then they’d might get something out of it. 

7:36 PM – Chris Wondolowski‘s aunt is speaking in favor. How often do you get a player’s relative speaking in favor of a stadium? I haven’t seen it before.

7:35 PM – I’m not keeping a tally of for vs. against speakers, but so far it is only two against, everyone else for.

7:29 PM – Jonathan Martinez asks the question(s) of the night: “Noise? In that neighborhood? Are you kidding me?”

7:25 PM – Belated stream link.

7:16 PM – At least two sponsors of the team have spoken in support, as well as a youth soccer coach and a worker for a community-based nonprofit.

7:14 PM – A speaker from Tracy mentions his brother, who recently passed away. He said that having the Quakes here helped him get through the tough times.

7:11 PM – The team’s official Twitter feed is livetweeting the event.

7:02 PM – A speaker says he is opposed to the sites for both the Quakes and A’s stadia. Would prefer the A’s to move to Airport West, while Quakes go to 237/Zanker.

6:59 PM – Soccer Silicon Valley’s Don Gagliardi is speaking. Asks fans to stand up. My guess is 95% of the crowd is Quakes fans. Claims that in 10 years the Quakes will be more important to San Jose than the A’s (if the A’s move).

Earthquakes fans standing in support

6:56 PM – 1906 Ultras (supporters club) are holding up scarves in unison as Kaval speaks.

Kaval notes design of stadium (turned towards airport) and lack of concerts as a form of noise mitigation. Mentions that Quakes have not gotten a noise complaint in last two years at Buck Shaw Stadium.

6:53 PM – Lew Wolff is speaking in support and thanks. Considers soccer a “community asset”. Claims that even if the number of games were doubled, the actual impact on the area would be only 170 hours per year. Introduces David Kaval. Applause from crowd. Crowd admonished for applause.

6:48 PM – A representative for the appellant (who is not present?) is at the podium. Notes a petition that has been signed by 210 people. Asks to uphold appeal, deny the application, and reopen the EIR on the grounds that the noise analysis is flawed. 

  • No computer simulation noise analysis for conceptual stadium design or proposed stadium design
  • Diridon Analysis with SoundPLAN would should noise would be 3-5 dbA higher for baseball games and 5-7 dbA higher for concerts – than in the approved EIR noise study.

This could be important for a future ballpark fight, as we can expect the same issue to be brought up.

6:45 PM – City staff is going over new/amended noise analysis, the idea that the stadium’s design and use should mitigate noise, and the restrictions on noisemakers that should further make the stadium “a good neighbor”.

6:42 PM – Planning commission is going over rules and consent items. Item 3F, the Quakes stadium proposal, has been moved to go first.

6:24 PM – Council Chambers is filling up quickly. Lew and Keith Wolff, and David Kaval are present, doing brief interviews with local media.

Quakes fans message for the night

Read the KQED interview with Earthquakes president David Kaval that Nina Thorsen posted. About any linkage between the Quakes’ project and a future A’s ballpark, Kaval says this:

We’re really run as our own entity.  This process is really a stand-alone process.  Since our ownership is basically the same as the A’s, any learning from this, best practices, and how to work with communities, can be helpful to them.  But they’re not linked in the way that some people might assume.  The financing is completely separate, and obviously it’s a different sport, different league, different location.

Coincidentally, 95.7 The Game is doing one of their Lucky Break radio gig auditions tonight at 4th Street Pizza, which happens to be across the street from San Jose City Hall. Lucky Break will happen at the same time as the planning commission meeting, so you’ll have to choose which one to attend.

37 thoughts on “San Jose 2/22/12 Planning Commission Meeting Liveblog

  1. OT – For those who are inclined to MLS, the official website is streaming matches from the Diamond Desert Cup and the Disney Pro Soccer Classic. You can check the guide to see what is airing when.

  2. Great job ML, really hope this thing gets resolved ASAP. This is much too good of an opportunity to pass up, especially considering that soccer is such a growing sport in this country. Who would have thought an MLS team could sell out a 60k plus stadium consistently? As it is, the Quakes can sell out tiny Buck Shaw on a Tuesday night for a last place team. That is some serious potential, hopefully not to be derailed by a seemingly petty appeal.

  3. I’m still in complete amazement that noise is still being brought up as an issue. Do these folks realize how ridiculous their complaint looks? Maybe they’re concerned the “noise” from the SSS will somehow drown out the jet blasts from SJC.
    For those Quakes fans who frequent this blog: could you please tell Don Gagliardi that the A’s to SJ and SSS efforts are on the same team. No need do try and drive a wedge between the two camps (that “war” ended a long time ago).
    Lastly..if the A’s move? C’mon RM!

  4. @Tony D. Amen bro! I am a diehard A’s fan, a Quakes and Warriors STH, and passionate about all three. Nothin’ but love for all the teams.

  5. These Newhall residents are just delusional. I couldn’t stop laughing when they claimed they couldn’t hear the take offs and landings at SJC.

  6. I live on the other side of the airport opposite from where the Quakes stadium is. I can assure we can hear the planes take off particularly when they are flying north to south. The Quakes site has the Caltrain there, too. Previously, I lived right near the Caltrain and the thing would rock the house several times a day. (FWIW, I don’t really care about the planes. Just watched a Southwest flight come in while writing this.)

  7. @8:29PM — on background: from 55 dB to 60 dB is 3.16 times as loud (more than double !!) see e.g.

  8. @erw – That appears to be about power, not sound pressure or loudness. Got a link for that? Will correct if found. Here’s my link.

  9. Is the guy speaking right now Ray Ratto’s brother? In any case, it sounds like it’s going in the right direction. 🙂

  10. Let’s just hope they sell what he’s holding at the new Quakes stadium.

  11. Looks like that should do it! Yesssss!!!!!!!

  12. And the cheering starts…

  13. Thanks ML for the coverage- glad to seebit was unaminous- gotta love the shpna group- not even affected yet there to try to stop it- some people ave too much time on their hands- Go Quakes- looking forward to seeing the start of ths one-

  14. The end was awesome, with all the Quakes fans standing up and chanting.

  15. Congrats to not only Quakes fans but to the great city of San Jose as well. Can’t wait to have a cold one at the Epicentre (added some Euro flare to the spelling ;).
    RM, just curious, why no public referendum for the Quakes SSS but (supposedly) one for the ballpark? Not saying one should occur for the SSS; I am saying one shouldn’t occur for the ballpark if the two deals are similar (ie no public funds for actual stadia construction, Wolff buys land). Perhaps the SSS saga is a good trial run for the eventual ballpark endeavor of SJ. A’s to SJ and the realization of Cisco Field …our time will come soon.

  16. @Marinelayer — I admit it’s more subtle since it is about human perception … what is double depends on whether you talk about intensity or loudness or acoustical sound pressure level.
    You were correct: although since it is a log scale, +3dB is double — this refers to the power (Watt per square meter), but +6dB is double the sound pressure level, and (people argue whether +6 or) +10 dB is /perceived/ as twice as loud.
    many many references of course, e.g. and

  17. @erw/ML: Good discussion on sound. Very educational.

  18. I’m totally stoked. I love soccer and I love the Quakes! The new stadium is going to be sweet.
    And I love that soccer has grown to point of, not only respect, but widespread and growing popularity in this country. When I was growing up and into my early adulthood, being a passionate soccer fan (and former player) I always had to put up with the soccer bashers. But nowadays those idiots are few and far between, and are considered by the majority as being pathetic relics.
    I also love the fact that both here are, and at Athletics Nation, sooo many A’s fans are also soccer fans. Just another reason to love the A’s.
    Actually, as strange as it may seem, baseball and soccer have a lot in common. Both have a certain “artistry”, or “beauty”, or atmosphere, and both require lots of subtle skills and strategy.
    Go Quakes! Go A’s!
    Things are looking up for Northern California stadiums nowadays – The Quakes and Niners stadiums are a go, and the Kings arena is looking more and more likely (Stern and mayor Johnson just did a joint press session, saying it’s looking really really good).
    Now, lets have ol’ Bud open up San Jose, and get Cisco field going. And even that looks pretty positive (albeit maddeningly slow!).

  19. @JA,
    I believe I saw in Reno this past weekend NBC Sports promoting MLS games this coming season. Can anyone confirm this? If so, that would be great!

  20. Just my opinion again, but I still say the SJ Earthquakes should be renamed “Quakes FC of San Jose,” complete with a new “coat of arms”, European-style logo. No harm, no foul in having an opinion 😉

  21. By the way, what else was Commissioner Platten supposed to say re ballpark and supposed “harbinger.” Even if this is the blueprint for Cisco Field, no one at this time will come out and flat out admit it.

  22. The name earthquakes goes back to the NASL days. I also hate when MLS teams try and copy-cat the Euros.

  23. @Dinosaur JR – Agree completely.

  24. @Tony D
    MLS did just sign a big new contract with NBC to broadcast some games. AFAIK, they still have their contract with ESPN and Fox Soccer, but are just adding more national broadcasts to NBC.
    MLS is doing fabulously well these days, in spite of a crap economy. A decade ago, Phil Anshutz owned 6 of 10 teams, and the league was treading water, trying to get itself going. Now, the league keeps adding teams, and attendance keeps getting better and better, the quality of the product has improved, and fan passion has gone through the roof.
    On that later point, I thought a true test to fan passion going through the roof –
    Exhibit A) Sporting Kansas City – before the new stadium, the poorest attendance in the league, and generally crappy enthusiasm. But then they changed their name to Sporting KC (from Wizards), and got the new SSS, and suddenly they fill the place up, and, after watching some games that were at KC, the fans were ridiculously loud.
    Exhibit B) Seattle Sounders FC – huge crowds, leads league in attendance, and they’re loud
    Exhibit C) SJ Quakes fans showing up at council meeting, and end up chanting “Earth-quakes! Earth-quakes!” after the 6-0 vote to stop the appeal on EIR.
    Exhibit D) MLS is now third in attendance, behind NFL and MLB, ahead of NBA and NHL
    Soccer has arrived.

  25. You can also throw in the Portland Timbers as Exhibit E. I am dying to go see the Quakes play the Timbers in Portland this year. Apparently, their national anthem is completely bone-chilling. The Sounders-Timbers rivalry is soon going to be one of the best rivalries in all of American sports, if it’s not already.

  26. NBA total attendance: 21,302,573
    NHL total attendance: 20,928,036
    MLS total attendance: 5,468,951

  27. Pjk,
    Perhaps JA was referring to attendance per game re MLS, not season totals (?). I also believe 1) current SSS have larger capacities than most NBA/NHL arenas and 2) there are more NBA/NHL games per season than MLS games (?), hence season totals far greater than MLS (?).

  28. @Tony, @pjk
    Yes, I was referring to attendance per game. MLS slightly beats out the NBA, then NHL.

  29. MLS is played in big open air stadiums, no? NBA and NHL are limited to about 18,000 seats per game. Also, NBA and NHL can charge hundreds of dollars for some of their seats – maybe even $1,000 and upward for courtside NBA seats. I doubt MLS comes close to that…

  30. MLS is played in open air stadiums that are only marginally bigger than NBA arenas. I believe the league average size sits near 20K.

  31. Congrats to the Quakes, their fans, Lew and Keith Wolff, Dave Kaval, and most importantly to the Quakes supporters groups (1906 Ultras, Casbah, and Soccer Silicon Valley). Yesterday was the culmination of nearly a decade of hard work, heartache, and perseverance. New Stadium, return of the proper nlue jerseys this year, roster looking stout… Great year to be a San Jose Earthquakes fan.

  32. Between this and finally watching domestic association football again, albeit via the streams MLS is providing for the preseason tournaments, something is definitely going on with soccer in the USA. Couple those with the favorable headlines Orlando City SC is getting lately and we can begin discussing whether the 1996-2006 era can finally be put to rest.

  33. FYI – Looks like the Quakes are starting to press on the SB corporate base. We can probably expect similar things happening with the A’s if/when they move down to SJ! 🙂

    “XXX has been invited to participate in the “Silicon Valley Cup” event on Saturday, March 10th sponsored by the San Jose Earthquakes. This is their Men’s Division tournament from 11:00-5:00 at their training facility at Santa Clara University. We will need a maximum of 10 people for the XXX Team. This is the first tournament of the season, other opportunities for co-ed and women’s teams will take place later this year.

    If you are interested in joining the XXX Team to play soccer for a day with other Silicon Valley companies, please send me an email by Friday, March 2nd. As a bonus, the participating team will receive tickets to the Earthquakes’ Home Opener game that night! “

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