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16 January 2008

Introducing the consultants: Short and sweet

I got to last night's work session 10 minutes late. I didn't miss much. Seated in front of the council were familiar faces from Berkeley-based LSA Associates, the firm drafting the ballpark village environmental impact report. They were going over expectations and timelines for the report. Some of the important points from last night:
  • LSA had an internal kickoff meeting shortly after the city council approved the study. Since then they've been working on the EIR.
  • The next two months or so will be background work.
  • A "Notice of Preparation" will be circulated prior to the publishing of the Draft EIR, followed by a 30-day public review period
  • The Draft EIR will be distributed, followed by a scoping session and a 45-day public review period
  • Comments and responses will be included along with possible changes in the Final EIR
  • Public hearings will be held, and the Final EIR will be approved or rejected by the city council.

Unlike many other EIRs which are typically done from scratch, this one will be partly based on the previous Catellus/Pacific Commons EIR, which was completed a decade ago. This may prove to be a double-edged sword as much of the work will involve evaluating various mitigation measures and effects of the original project plan. The big item is the creation of a new wetlands area - did it work as planned? And if so, what measures need to be taken to "preserve the preserve?" LSA has indicated this aspect actually makes the process somewhat more difficult. Don't expect a lot over the next several weeks.

While there wasn't much new detail coming out of the Community Specific Plan, one tidbit emerged that the council found curious: the largest residential area (2500 units) may contain some number of single family residences. When asked to elaborate, LSA said they didn't have a specific number. It also looks like the buildout will progress in the following manner:
  • Phase I: Ballpark, mixed-use, and school
  • Phase II: Residential east of Cushing Pkwy
  • Phase III: Development west of Cushing Pkwy
Questions from the council centered largely around LSA's experience. The firm has been around for over 30 years and has worked on numerous projects of varying sizes. As mentioned previously, they have worked on the San Jose ballpark EIR - which was certified but ended up nowhere. LSA has never worked on a successful ballpark project. (Co)Incidentally, LSA also wrote the EIR for Oakland's Uptown project (I sense tinfoil hats sparking a bit...). LSA cited their previous experience working on other redevelopment projects, which will be very useful since the ballpark really only amounts to a quarter of the project.

The San Jose ballpark EIR came under fire on multiple fronts. Critiques generally came under three categories:
  • Traffic. While traffic counts were made for the area immediately surround the ballpark and the nearby freeway infrastructure, some felt that it should have also included additional neighborhoods near the ballpark site.
  • Noise pollution. The sound noise curve drawn for the ballpark was considered oversimplified and should have taken into consideration more factors related to how weather as well as how fans attend baseball games.
  • Neighborhood impact. A small, quiet hamlet of sorts lay across Los Gatos Creek from the ballpark site. They are already affected by increased traffic and noise from events at the nearby HP Pavilion. Many of them felt their needs weren't taken into consideration.

Point #3 may not be relevant to the Fremont discussion. The first two are entirely relevant and should be discussed and reviewed at considerable length.

There was only one speaker, and he was representing project proponents. The whole thing was wrapped up in less than an hour.

27 comments:

anthony dominguez said...

SJ Ballpark EIR went nowhere? Actually R.M., this statement won't be entirely true until the actual groundbreaking of Cisco Field, which is probably at least 2 years away. At that time, we could rightfully burn the SJ EIR on Montgomery St., right in front of the ole Stephens Meats Pig sign (I myself will be holding a candlelight on that day). Anyhow, nice article this morning by Ann Killion regarding the greed and shamefullness of the Giants (steriod hearings). You know, the G's can begin righting themselves by...

Georob said...

Well, that certainly scored well on the babble-meter, Tony.

As I pointed out, San Jose has a better opportunity to get one, if not two NFL teams playing in their city with presumably fewer obstacles. (Though I'm sure ML will gladly point out more than a few)

So if the "tenth largest city in the United States" needs a big time pro sports team to give it notoriety and pump up its downtown, the NFL would seem like the way to go.

But if you want to continue to cry about territorial rights, I guess I can't stop you, can I?

anthony dominguez said...

Rob, please! I don't think I've ever shed a tear once regarding the territorial rights. I've stated that they're wrong and have essentially banned San Jose from ever attaining a Major League franchise...that doesn't constitue crying! Would it be fair to accuse African Americans pre-1800's of "crying" because they aren't free? Absolutely not! It's one thing to express somethings wrong in this country and to "cry like a baby." I know you live in CC, Tex now, but just imagine that Fresno couldn't get a AAA team because one existed in Sacramento...that would be just plain wrong now, wouldn't it!

Jeffrey said...

Seriously... slavery v. territorial rights. Have we a talent for hyperbole?

anthony dominguez said...

Jeffrey,
Read my post again! Of course, there are different degree's of wrong, with slavery being on the extreme end and corporate greed/territorial rights being on the low end. Nobody Obviously felt pain or sufferred because of Peter Magowans rights. I was simply making the point that it shouldn't be viewed as "crying" when one expresses his/her disagreement with what is viewed as being wrong or discriminatory. That's the point I was making (I'm pretty sure you knew that).

Georob said...

Ok, Tony. So you're not crying, fine. But what I still see in your posts is this sense of entitlement when it comes to MLB and San Jose. But the fact is that San Jose is not entitled to anything(nor is Oakland or SF)

MLB is a private entity that chooses, whether unfair or not; to put a team in San Jose. And it would seem to me that SJ supporters can work with the city to convince MLB otherwise or move on and try to get the NFL and/or NBA to come to town.

It's the same with retail. A lot of people in Fresno want Nordstrom, but they don't want to come. Corpus is worse, we don't even have a flipping COSTCO(though we have Sams, Macys, and Dillards)Cities can make their best case to attract business, but at some point must move on and look for other companies.

So Tony, what do you want for San Jose? The NFL or NBA would go a long way towards helping downtown and giving the city exposure. But as I said over a year ago, I think you just want to see "SJ" on a baseball uniform and in the daily standings.

And what happens the "________ Athletics of Fremont" is something other than San Jose? Well, to quote a line from "Ocean's Eleven", I think you'll drop the A's faster than third period french.

Prove me wrong, buddy.

Jeffrey said...

I read it again. You are relating slavery to territorial rights. By putting both in a broad bucket of discrimination. I think it is an analogy that lacks merit.

No worries though... I get your point. Bummer for San Jose.

Anonymous said...

These consultants will no doubt have a perfect track record after this Fremont plan reaches fruition.

anthony dominguez said...

We've been blogging back and forth for over a year now? How time fly's when you're having fun. A sense of entitlement Rob? Not really...all I've ever asked is for San Jose to have a fair shot at landing a MLB team (not banned by TRights). Who knows...maybe San Jose would have been freed to get the A's and we would have blown it anyway (lawsuits, no land, NIMBY's, anti-stadium advocates); we'll never know. I'm confident though, with our current leadership and corporate support, that San Jose would have landed the A's had it been given a chance. So what do I want for my town now? I think the NBA will go a long way towards soothing my "pain" of not getting the A's downtown; 18,000+, 40+ games per year at HP Pavilion would be good for our core (I'm a huge advocate of DSJ's continued revitilization). Of course, as R.M. would agree, there are issues with the Warriors and having two teams in the region. Best bet: San Jose waits out the Warriors lease at Oracle (2017), SVSE purchases the Warriors and breaks the lease, or the NBA allows a franchise to relocate to SJ against the Warriors wishes. Pss...Territorial rights don't exist in the NBA! To answer your last question, I've been an A's fan since the days of Henderson, Eckersley, Canseco, and McGuire...AND THEY ALL PLAYED FOR THE OAKLAND ATHLETICS!

Anonymous said...

ML,

I have so many questions? If the EIR is approved next winter or spring, does that mean the A's can start selling the rights to build on the property?

If so, do the A's have to wait until they've made enough money to build the park, then start to build? Or will they borrow the money and pay off the loan once they sell the property.

Do you think the A's have developers in mind already or will they have to find them?

Will the housing market affect their chances to make this work? Or do developers want to build on that land because they know its scarce down there?

How long does it take to build a 32,000 seat park with parking lots?

Thanks
Jesse

Marine Layer said...

If/when the EIR is approved the A's can go forward in whatever schedule they choose. I don't think they'll sell the rights for the bulk of the residential immediately. They'll likely wait for the market to recover first. The mixed-use, 600-unit portion will come first so they'll partner with someone there first.

They're going to borrow to build the park. We may not find out much about the specifics, but whatever loan(s) they go with will be net of naming rights and other pledged non-game stadium revenues. They may schedule it so that payoff of the bonds is aligned with selloff of the housing rights. They may not. They've been talking with developers the whole time because it's a very promising project. They've also been talking with labor unions on other parts of the project.

I've estimated 30 months in the past and I'll keep that estimate for now. They should have some wiggle room because the ballpark's smaller, but I don't think they want to detract from the Opening Day experience by having a bunch of construction cranes and scaffolding in view and close proximity.

FC said...

I know I've asked this question in the past, but I don't remember whether it was ever answered.

We recently remodeled our house. The process started with us having to gain approval from our HOA. Once HOA approval was received, a review by our city's planning department was done in order to secure a planning permit. Upon receiving a planning permit, a review of our drawings was done by the building department. Only after we received a building permit were we allowed to break ground. There was a set process, and each step had to be completed before moving on to the next.

Will the ballpark project have to follow the same process? Will Fremont's building department be allowed to start reviewing actually blueprint drawings and design specs before the EIR is approved? I think 2011 is still a possibility, but a lot will depend on the review and approval process.

Marine Layer said...

They'll be doing the same except on a grander scale. Anu Natarajan's questions have largely centered on building types and uses, which makes sense because that's where her expertise lies. They'll be going over everything from housing unit sizes to streetscapes and setbacks to wastewater routing. Nothing can start until the whole thing is approved. There may be some allowances for fleshing out Phases 2 and 3 over time as conditions change.

Jeffrey said...

I have an uncle who works for a home builder in the Central valley. His company recently merged with a home builder that develops in the Bay Area. He told me they have been in discussion with not only Lew Wolff but the city and are planning on participating in the project.

No idea what any of that really means entirely, other than that home builders have been in discussions and are interested in making this happen.

FC said...

ML,

So if I read you correctly, even though the EIR gets approved, we will still have to wait for the actually buidling specs to be reviewed and approved. That could add on a few months at least.

Anonymous said...

Thats good to know Jeffrey. I was checking out the Twins website and it looks like after the ceremonial groundbreak, they started driving piles into the ground in October 2007, and its expected to be ready by April 2010. So thats exactly 2.5years ML.

However their stadium is 40,000 seats and they have to deal with freezing tempatures and snow all winter. Maybe we can get it done in 1.5 to 2 years.

Marine Layer said...

No, it's a given that the stadium specs will change somewhat over the course of development, so they don't need to be letter perfect on design. They will need to have some basics established: capacity, height, footprint, ingress/egress. In the spring you'll start to see a more detailed vision take shape. All of these individual parts are taking shape in parallel, no one should hold up others.

The time to build isn't all that proportional based on size. The bare minimum should be 24 months.

FC said...

I don't know whether this is allowed, but anyone want two (free)tickets to Fanfest? If so, drop me an email at "fcca1502@yahoo.com"

FC said...

Tony,

Ray Ratto may be you next best friend.

(01-19) 16:51 PST -- Bud Selig, who just extended his retirement date for yet a third time, now has extra time to figure out what to do about those troublesome Giants. And guessing by the hard choices one has to make when punishing one's boss, he will need that time.

True, Peter Magowan only owns 1/30th of Selig (probably his spleen and a hunk of femur), but he is still a boss and would have a vote on the commissioner's future if at some point he needed it extended beyond 2012.

As a practical matter, though, Selig is the one who is large and in charge, and if he can correctly divine how badly Rep. Henry Waxman wants the Giants hammered while Miguel Tejada and Roger Clemens get theirs, so shall it be.

We have already discussed the ethical and logical difficulties involved in punishing the Giants without punishing other teams for essentially the same crime, and we have also covered the problem with suspending an owner (a non-effective punishment, we can all agree).

But Selig doesn't have to follow logic or ethics when he deals out the mandated spankings - only the politics of mollifying Waxman. And now with his new contract, Selig has the time to come up with something creative yet punitive toward the Giants, one that addresses the central truth that allowing Greg Anderson the unfettered run of the clubhouse was an organizational decision rather than one that stopped at the desk of Brian Sabean.

And a few folks who know how baseball works wonder if maybe the punishment will be the loss of San Francisco's territorial rights to Santa Clara County.

We all know baseball granted the Giants this right back when they were making one of their periodic attempts to get San Jose to build them a stadium in the Bob Lurie years. And as we also know, baseball can take them away just as swiftly by simply bringing the owners together for a quick vote, on the theory that anyone can do whatever they want if there's nobody around to object.

In this case, Selig is getting extra credit for supervising baseball's economic boom, as well as gulling Congress into giving up its steroid hunt. The House Committee on Needles and Ointments chaired by Waxman, a California Democrat, convinced Selig and union leader Don Fehr to admit they were wrong and acknowledge that George Mitchell is the world's greatest man. Then they threw the problem back in Bud's lap, which is what baseball wanted all along.

Thus, Selig is now in a position to:

-- Punish the Giants for their role in the Anderson/Barry Bonds mess.

-- Keep Congress off his back.

-- Do his good pal Lew Wolff, the A's owner who just jump-started Selig's latest contract extension and raise, a badly needed solid by pushing a finger into the eye of Magowan, who is not all that beloved in BudWorld these days.

True, the A's are still trying to make the Fremont Ball Mall work. Wolff wants a shopping village with a baseball stadium where the Old Navy outlet would go and is finding the slogging tougher than he thought. Hey, money's tight all over, Giggles - the subprime loan crisis, dovetailing the California budget slashings, make this a bad time to cadge money out of voters, let alone elected officials.

But nothing's done until it's done, and Wolff has pointed out more than once, most recently last week to Our Team's John Shea, that the territorial rights the Giants still use as an imaginary wall to keep the A's from dreaming about San Jose is not equitable. The Giants have six of the eight principal Bay Area counties and two-thirds of the Bay Area population, while the A's have only Alameda and Contra Costa.

So a question immediately arises: Why would territorial rights matter if Fremont is where the A's really want to be? And the answer that follows is, Fremont is only the place the A's settled upon because they couldn't get San Jose to love them.

In short, Wolff is again hedging his bets. He has already rejected Oakland as a place to stay (apparently he doesn't like those yearly $13 million revenue sharing checks), there is no other city that wants the burden of a major league team and the park that comes with it, and if Fremont doesn't happen ...

Is baseball considering such a notion? Not that anyone can tell. But it is a solution that has several benefits to it, not the least of which is hitting the Giants where Magowan thinks they live. San Francisco's strategy for long-term health has been to drive the A's into the sea, and it galls the Giants that their annual contributions to the revenue sharing plan almost exactly match Oakland's take-home check.

And now that the A's are rebuilding from the ground up, with the expected drop in revenues that come with a likely losing team with no big names to promote, they will pull even more out of the revenue pot - a loophole that baseball chooses not to fill by establishing a salary floor for each team.

But we digress. The issue here is Santa Clara County, which is still trying to figure out if it has the money and political will to build the 49ers a $900 million stadium (up from the original $600-odd million). If the football plan collapses, a ballpark is cheaper, gets the county a baseball team and alleviates its loss of civic self-esteem. Plus, John Fisher, who is the money backing Wolff's face, benefits, while Magowan, the architect of the Keep-Barry-Happy strategy that has had such fearful blowback, is punished far more than a wrist-slap fine that wouldn't even cover the cost of re-signing Pedro Feliz.

This grand plan assumes that Fremont will fail and that Fisher and Wolff have the time and power to change, say, San Jose's political and fiscal troubles, and those assumptions are considerable ones. But the Giants have always held their territorial rights with an unreasonable zeal, and to have them stripped at a moment's notice would hit them in the chest because the implication would be that baseball has a long-haul interest in the A's staying in the Bay Area - the one place the Giants don't want them.

That sounds like a reasonable cost for surrendering clubhouse access to a steroid dealer. What Selig might think remains to be seen, but at least now he has the time to think it.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/01/19/SPGEUHP6O.DTL

anthony dominguez said...

FC,
Can't wait to hear R.M.'s and Robs response to Mr. Ratto's piece. Anyhow, here are some other things to add to your great post:

1) San Jose's political structure is now "Wolff friendly." Gone are the days of Gonzales and scandal, with Chuck Reed and Tom McEnery at the healm.
2) San Jose's land deals for soccer (IStar/Edenvale property and former FMC lands) along with Pacific Commons ensures the financing for a ballpark (and SSS) is there. And although the PC EIR is now in fully swing, it will include alternatives to a ballpark and village (no money wasted there regardless of what is built)
3) Because of the Giants vested interest in FSN Bay Area, it's now in their best interest for the A's to be partners in the Bay Area. Their mission to rid the Bay of the A's is now deemed a failure; They can now work together to ensure both of their financial futures.

Funny, my first post here alluded to the same thing Mr. Ratto stated: free San Jose/Santa Clara County to begin righting yourself of the Balco mess. How am I doing on the Babble-meter now Rob?
(Good looking out FC!)

FC said...

Tony,

Wish I could take credit for finding the article. I actually caught wind of if on a Warriors Blog.

I wonder who Ratto was talking about when he writes:

"And a few folks who know how baseball works wonder if maybe the punishment will be the loss of San Francisco's territorial rights to Santa Clara County."

Though I would love to see the A's in SJ, I too think it's a long shot. Sorry.

Georob said...

I swear, any time that Mark Purdy or Ray Ratto throw a morsel out there you're all over it like a '72 Grand Prix at the intersection of King and Story!

Ratto does bring up one thing I've always said, and that's it's not so much that the Giants don't want the A's in San Jose, it's that they want the A's out of the Bay Area, period. While they can't stop the Fremont move, they're not going to do ANYTHING to help the A's; namely by giving them Santa Clara County.

And frankly, Lew Wolff validates this when he says that if Fremont doesn't pan out the A's would likely leave the Bay Area.

For now, have fun with this Tony! I guess your wife will have to wait a little while longer for that new car while you scrounge up cash for PSLs.

Jeffrey said...

Ray Ratto writes to read himself speak. I personally take everything he writes with a grain of salt.

FC said...

ML,

FYI,

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/01/21/BAHJUHPDU.DTL

anthony dominguez said...

Rob,
You must be extremely bored in Corpus (and how in the heck did you find your way to the "inside?"). By the way, a 64 Chevy Impala will work just fine for me. And when did Wolff state that if Fremont didn't work out he'd leave the Bay? Read the article again pal! Too much local interest in the A's for them to leave now. As for the Giants, they can help the Giants by ceading SCC to Wolff/A's. Work a deal out now for compensation before MLB punishes you for Balco Barry! Jeffrey, I think we should take everything we hear regarding the A's future with a "grain of salt." Even, respectfully R.M., if it comes from Marinelayer. But again, it's hard to question those who can speak to Lew Wolff and the A's organization on a dime (Ratto, Purdy, Killion). Look, I've stated this before and I'll say it again; if Fremont happens, great! More power to my A's and their organization. But again, this thing is far from a done deal, and the San Jose advocate in me has every right to harbor hope for a change in the territorial landscape. Anyhow, enough from me on the Ratto article..

Anonymous said...

"And when did Wolff state that if Fremont didn't work out he'd leave the Bay? Read the article again pal!"

Wolff may not have said anything in Ratto's article, Anthony, but he has stated a number of times that the Fremont option is the only bay area option he is considering, and that this is the bay area's last shot at retaining the A's...

Now, how much of that is hyperbole, related to wanting the Fremont site to work, who knows, but I do know, I dont want to put Lew to the test by seeing fremont fail...

Anonymous said...

Ratto is a blithering idiotic BOOB!!! Anyone that grasps onto something he blathers forth to be anything resembling facts is a bigger blithering idiotic BOOB than he.