Cow Palace handover unable to move through committee

A bill that would pave the way for the destruction of the historic Cow Palace encountered its first roadblock Tuesday when a state Senate committee decided against taking any action.

In a tumultuous hearing Tuesday, the state Senate Agricultural Committee did not come up with the three votes to advance the bill by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco.

The bill would have declared the arena surplus property and allow Daly City officials to begin negotiations with the state to purchase the site.

“The committee felt that there should be some further discussion between the two sides and I’m committed to doing that,” Yee said. “This is very important — no community should stand for what’s been happening to Bayshore for the last 20 years — they don’t even have basic amenities.”

Daly City officials have been hoping to convert the state-owned site on Geneva Avenue into a resident-friendly center filled with a grocery store, a school and homes. The state Senate committee asked Yee to mediate negotiations between the Cow Palace board of directors and Daly City officials in the hopes of coming up with a solution.

City Manager Patricia Martel, however, was doubtful that the city will be able to resume negotiations.

“We’ve been working with them for several years and none of that has resulted in any kind of cooperative decision because their interests are not the interests of Daly City,” she said. “However, if we get an opportunity to negotiate directly with the state, our chances of striking an agreement might be greatly improved.”

After Yee introduced the bill in February, the Cow Palace board of directors put out a request for proposals from developers to transform the 13-acre parking lot adjacent to the arena into a retail hub.

“Just because negotiations break down doesn’t mean you have to pass a bill that would sell the property,” said state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, a member of the committee. “We want them to come back to the table.”

Cow Palace boardmember Mara Kopp was happy with the committee’s decision and said she was more than happy to negotiate with Daly City.

Yee said he hoped to bring the bill back to the committee in one or two weeks.

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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