13 March 2007

No surprise: SVLG supports Pacific Commons

Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the Valley's biggest lobby, has officially endorsed the A's move to Fremont. There's no drama here, since Lew Wolff has spoken recently at Silicon Valley functions and was a guest on SVLG head Carl Guardino's radio show two weeks ago. The actual endorsement was mainly a formality, since the tide changed from a pro-San Jose effort (remember Baseball San Jose?) nearly a year ago.

The endorsement won't accelerate the project in any way, but it lends a significant amount of political weight and credibility. If, as rumored, many SVLG members are already on board -with checks for suites, premium seats, and sponsorships ready to go - then the public can start to think of the plan as more concrete. It's hard to dismiss cash. Of course, the A's still need to actually submit the development plan and get it approved before people start patting each other on the back.

Guardino said that the project "positively addresses our Valley's housing challenges." For years the SVLG has lobbying for increased housing in the Valley, a need that the project's 2,900 townhomes would start to address. SVLG has also been a major supporter of BART-to-Silicon Valley and Smart Growth initiatives such as transit-oriented development (TOD). They certainly have nothing to lose in backing the project. If SVLG had input anywhere, it may have been the change from condos (in the Coliseum North plan - the high-rises) to low-slung townhomes, which are a far more familiar housing mode in the Valley and may be considered by some to be more family-friendly (and negatively, more car-friendly).

The big clincher would be if the housing at Pacific Commons could somehow positively affect the approval for the BART-to-Silicon Valley project. As it stands, the project's 1.25-mile aerial distance from the planned Warm Springs station places it outside the radius required for nearby or adjacent TOD housing. If the ballpark village were located next to NUMMI instead, the BART extension would probably qualify for additional federal funds or at least have a better chance of getting approved.