01 March 2009

Weekend newswrap 3/1

First off, the SF Business Times reported on Friday that the City of Oakland and the A's will start talking about the team's future in Oakland in a few weeks. The talks will be headed by new City Administrator Dan Lindheim. Lindheim was also Oakland's head of CEDA, so he should have all of the tools necessary to talk sites, whether it's the Coliseum or elsewhere in Oakland. V Smoothe has a good writeup of the Oakland side of the situation. There are questions about how both the A's and Oakland would proceed, and the political ramifications of the answers to those questions, but that deserves a much longer post in a week or two. Look for an unusual Coliseum revamp post later in the week.

Next up, VTA ordered up some sales tax revenue projections for the next three decades. Unfortunately, they came up woefully short in terms of monetary needs for BART-to-Silicon Valley construction, operating costs, and funding for other transit programs. That will force VTA to delay the extension's downtown San Jose tunnel and full operation until 2025. In the meantime, VTA will look to terminate the extension at the planned Berryessa station, 2.5 miles northeast of downtown and 3.5 miles from the Diridon South site. Looks like all those claims of having the best transit hub in the state are a bit premature, though an economic recovery could potentially improve those revenue projections. Depending on legal issues, more frequent and electrified Caltrain plus High Speed Rail could conceivably arrive in San Jose earlier than BART.

Finally, the development plan for the Cal Expo Fairgrounds was released. The plan, which covers 350 acres between Arden Fair and the American River, includes a new arena for the Kings. If it looks similar to the Pacific Commons baseball village concept, that's because it was done by Gensler, the same firm that worked out the land use for the A's in Fremont. A scaled-down fairgrounds is included, with a large amount of open space and a new fairgrounds pavilion as the anchors. No developer has signed onto it, and there will certainly have to be some serious legislative machinations done in the Capitol to get this done, considering it is state-owned land. The presentation also describes two funding scenarios, one in which TIF is used and another where TIF isn't used. Another important point: the plan stretches out until its completion in 2036. If anything, the plan suffers from extraordinarily bad timing. Surely there will be some sort of deadline set for interested parties to take on this enormous plan. Will the economy recover quickly enough for that to happen? After all, the arena is in the first phase.