Residents of Santa Clara could vote on plans for a proposed San Francisco 49ers stadium in June rather than November, potentially due to a citizen movement to oppose the football venue.
Officials of the South Bay city had said November would be the target date for a vote based on when an environmental impact review could be completed and analyzed. That report is expected to be certified Tuesday by the Santa Clara City Council, which is also expected to vote on when to send the issue to voters.
The new wrinkle is citizens against the stadium proposal are contemplating a competing measure for June. That has Santa Clara officials considering a special April election. To hold a special election in April for a single measure would cost Santa Clara $650,000, according to city documents. Putting the measure on the ballot in June costs $150,000.
“There does not appear to be a strong rationale to moving the election date forward two months to April 2010 and expending an additional $500,000 in election costs proposed to be paid from public funds,” Santa Clara Assistant City Manager Ronald Garratt wrote in a report related to Tuesday’s meeting.
The 49ers are currently negotiating with Santa Clara to build a $937 million stadium adjacent to the Great America amusement park, which could open in 2014. San Francisco officials, meanwhile, have tried to convince the team to remain in The City in a new stadium built within the redevelopment of the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.
The question of why the Santa Clara City Council would even consider the more expensive special election is slipped within Garratt’s memo.
“Staff has recently been informed by the San Francisco 49ers that a group of community representatives are seriously considering moving forward with an initiative process to bring a stadium ballot measure to the registered voters of Santa Clara no later than June 2010,” Garratt wrote.
While no ballot initiative against the stadium has officially been submitted to election officials for possible signature gathering, Bill Bailey, an opponent of the stadium plan, said his group, Santa Clara Plays Fair, has not ruled out the possibility.
“I just don’t want to comment on it at this time,” he said.
For now, Bailey said his group is pressing the City Council to put the measure on the ballot in June, when the most people are expected to vote.
Bailey said he is also critical of the recent environmental impact report released for the stadium plan, which also will be voted upon at Tuesday’s meeting.
Impact report targets venue noise, smells
The expected impacts of a proposed 49ers stadium in Santa Clara will be scrutinized this week.
The proposed project’s environmental impact report, which is required by California law, is scheduled to be certified by Santa Clara City Council on Tuesday.
Most of the impacts identified in the report relate to traffic and parking issues that will arise on game days and whenever the stadium is used for concerts and other events. The report also outlines steps needed to mitigate the impacts.
Celebratory noise and the smell of barbecues created by tailgaters is one impact identified in the report.
If the stadium is built, stereos and loudspeakers would be banned in the parking lot and a “disturbance coordinator” would investigate complaints from neighbors, according to the report.
If the council certifies the report, it will clear the path for construction to begin if the project is approved by voters.
Opponents of the project, however, have registered their opposition to certification of the report. Those foes include Santa Clara residents who object to the use of public subsidies for a private football stadium.
They also include San Francisco officials and fans who hope to convince the franchise to remain in San Francisco, perhaps by raising funds from private investors to rebuild or overhaul Candlestick Park.
Project delays are possible if opponents launch an appeal against certification of the report, particularly if a court agrees that the report is incomplete or inaccurate. — John Upton