A new chance for the Bayside

If ever there were an “underserved and economically depressed” neighborhood facing multiple problems, it is Daly City’s Bayside, just over the San Francisco city line.

Among the conveniences lacking in this small, isolated district are the most basic shopping facilities, such as a grocery store. Many low-income residents must cope daily with inadequate transit services to access essential needs.

Most Bay Area residents only have reason to think about the Bayside in connection with shows at the Cow Palace, an aging 16,500-seat arena that has sunk toa distant third choice for major event promoters — far behind the newer San Jose HP Pavilion and Oakland Arena.

Operating the state-owned Cow Palace is the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Division of Fairs and Expositions, whose administrators seemingly believe the primary mission is to nurture any remnants of their clout. For years, the Cow Palace board of directors has stonewalled Daly City’s pleas to issue a lease 13 acres of parking lots for a neighborhood shopping center providing the first convenient local supermarket, bank, post office, medical clinic, etc.

The Cow Palace board also turned down a private developer who sought to buy the 70-acre site for a mixed-use project last June. He even offered to pay for a new arena that the state could continue operating — either rebuilding it at the same location or on a different property.

But now state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Mateo/San Francisco, is about to decide whether to introduce a bill requiring the state to sell the Cow Palace. Daly City has first rights to purchase the property, which would cost approximately $80 million to $100 million. The city does not have that much money in its treasury, but it is working on a redevelopment package to obtain funds from a combination of sources, City Manager Patricia Martel said.

Yee should introduce his bill and it should become law. Daly City should assemble a public-private partnership that razes the outmoded arena and its satellite halls, using the acreage for a high-density, mixed-use development that ultimately pays for itself while also providing the Bayside with those long-needed essential services.

We are not calling for San Francisco and the northern Peninsula to be deprived of a convenient, first-rate arena to host the Grand National Rodeo, Horse & Stock Show, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Disney on Ice, Golden Gate Kennel Club Dog Show, and San Francisco Flower & Garden Show. Events such as these are irreplaceable gems of the Bay Area lifestyle, of significant importance to many Bay Area residents.

The Cow Palace needs to be replaced with a state-of-the-art arena at a close-in location offering much better access routes.

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