Schwarzenegger to decide on 49ers stadium measure

Legislation that would ask a judge to give an early ruling on whether a revised plan for a new San Francisco 49ers stadium project is within the will of the voters, who approved a different plan in 1997, is on the desk of the governor, who has until the end of the day to sign or veto the measure.

Senate Bill 1842, sponsored by state Senator Carole Migden, at the request of Mayor Gavin Newsom, passed through both legislative houses as of Aug. 15.

In July, the San Francisco 49ers presented a preliminary plan for a stadium and residential development project at Candlestick Point, with a promise that the stadium would be privately funded.

The park property, including nearby empty lots, is zoned for public purposes.

The new stadium plan is different from one put before voters nearly 10 years ago; that proposal matched the sporting facility witha shopping mall and would have required $100 million in public bond money. The project stalled, however, and the developer, Mills Corp., eventually pulled out of the deal.

A new developer, Lennar Corp., has since signed on to work on the stadium plan. Lennar is also overseeing the redevelopment project at Hunters Point.

49ers spokesman Steve Fine said that the measure voters approved in 1997 allows the team to work with the new development partner on a revised replacement stadium plan.

Lennar officials say more details of the development plan are expected in September or October. If SB 1842 were to pass, The City could then take the plan to a judge to get an early determination about whether it was valid and consistent with the general will of city voters who approved the previous plan —but only if the Board of Supervisors first gives the plan the greenlight.

“It’s not something that the 49ers can do on their own,” said Migden spokesman Eric Potasher, who noted that such a review is usually done later in the development timeline. “The Board of Supervisors has to initiate this validation process.”

If the judge did approve the project, there would be no legal need to bring the stadium plans back to the voters — although several city leaders, including Newsom, said it would be inappropriate to do otherwise.

“Whatever the governor does, I hope the mayor sticks to his word,” said Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval, who said he was concerned that even if the development is privately financed, the supporting infrastructure for the project would be paid for with city taxpayer dollars.

“[Now] there’s this soft fuzzy feeling that it will all get worked out in the end. The only thing that’s guaranteed is the buck will stop with the taxpayers,” Sandoval said.

A new stadium at Candlestick Point would compliment a proposal to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, which The Cityhas submitted to U.S. Olympic Officials. That bid also includes an idea to house Olympic athletes at a new residential complex planned to be built by Lennar at Hunters Point.

beslinger@examiner.com

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