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Lawsuit targets 49ers ballot measure

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An opponent of a Santa Clara plan to spend public funds to build a football stadium filed a lawsuit that seeks to remove or alter an upcoming ballot measure for funding.

If Santa Clara voters approve Measure J on June 8 — named the Santa Clara Stadium Taxpayer Protection and Economic Progress Act — their city plans to contribute redevelopment funds and new hotel taxes toward a $937 million stadium.

The proposal is strongly supported by Santa Clara officials, who hope a stadium will be ready for the 49ers to relocate from Candlestick Park to the Great America theme park parking lot in the South Bay for the 2014 NFL season.

The team does not plan to change its name to mention Santa Clara, where its training and administration headquarters already are located.

Opposition to the stadium-­building plan is being organized by city residents who criticize the planned use of public funds to construct a facility for a privately owned football franchise.

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One of those opponents, Deborah Bress, filed a lawsuit in Santa Clara Superior Court this month that seeks to strike Measure J from the ballot or to force Santa Clara to change its title and ballot language.

Such changes could make it more difficult for project supporters to secure voter approval.

“The title is exactly as requested by the proponents, Santa Clarans for Economic Progress, which is substantially supported by the San Francisco 49ers,” the lawsuit says.

Bress also alleges in the lawsuit that the Santa Clara city attorney’s ballot analysis of Measure J is biased and understates the city’s expected financial contributions to the proposed stadium.

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The analysis states that sources of stadium funding may include up to $40 million in redevelopment funds and $35 million from new hotel taxes.

“The total for Santa Clara as a direct subsidy for the stadium is $114 million, without bond and loan interest,” the lawsuit says. “This number should appear in the ‘impartial analysis.’”

The lawsuit was reviewed by Santa Clara’s city attorney, Deputy City Manager Carol McCarthy said.

“The city does not believe that the suit has merit,” McCarthy said.

Niners spokeswoman Lisa Lang declined to comment because the franchise is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.



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