Daly City closer to roping in Cow Palace property from state

There could be no more cows, guns or scantily clad women at the Cow Palace if a new bill introduced Friday — that would allow Daly City to purchase the indoor arena and tear it down for development purposes — is approved by state legislators.

The bill, authored by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Mateo-San Francisco, would allow the city to purchase the state-owned Cow Palace, which is located within the city’s jurisdiction.

Supported by Daly City Council and some Bayshore residents, the 67-year-old arena would be priced, according to the bill, “at fair market value,” which Daly City Manager Patricia Martel said could cost between $80 million and $100 million.

Daly City officials have already begun looking for funding from private lenders in hopes of buying the 68-acre property by January, Martel said.

In a press release, Yee's office said that events at the Cow Palace have resulted in a number of community concerns, including illegal gun sales, drug dealing and significant costs of providing law enforcement services to the facility.

The neighborhood needs a grocery store, according to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a community coalition.

But Cow Palace CEO Walter Haub disputes Yee’s statements about the center, saying that selling the arena is a radical and unwarranted step because Cow Palace is willing to negotiate a deal with Daly City to build a supermarket on its land.

“Sen. Yee is apparently under the misapprehension that the sale of the Cow Palace is in the public interest, but it clearly is not,” he said. “This beloved and venerable forum has long served the communities of San Francisco, San Mateo County and the Bay Area for over 60 years.”

If Daly City buys the property, it will build a supermarket as well as a full commercial center, housing and possibly a K-8 school to replace two older schools in the area, Martel said.

“Cow Palace has never contributed anything to our community — the residents don't benefit in any way, they get some unsavory elements, traffic, and noise,” Martel said.

If Daly City buys the property, it will not only bring the state revenue, but also eliminate a costly problem of seismically retrofitting the aging arena and making it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to Yee.

“In this day and age, you need to address those issues — you just can’t continue with a building with lots of people coming through and not have it be safe enough and accessible enough,” said San Mateo County Supervisor Adrienne Tissier, who lives in Daly City. “The shows themselves can be accommodated at our expo center.”

According to Martel, state employees willhave an opportunity to relocate to other state facilities, and concessionaires may be absorbed into the San Mateo County Event Center.

The legislation will be considered by the Senate in the coming weeks.

If the city does not buy the property, it will remain in the state’s hands, Yee said.

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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