02 March 2009

Herhold: Get ready for the NIMBYs... in San Jose

Remember when the residents of Warm Springs got their pitchforks and torches polite signs and protested the A's invading their neighborhood? If you thought that San Jose was somehow immune from NIMBYs because it's downtown, think again. Merc columnist Scott Herhold writes about residents of the Shasta/Hanchett neighborhood west of downtown. They're getting ready to make their voices heard amidst the renewed ballpark efforts in San Jose.

This is not a new or inconsistent stance. When the ballpark EIR commenced in 2006, these very same residents had plenty of concerns about traffic and light and noise impacts. Back then, the ballpark was expected to hold up to 45,000 people with a height over 200 feet including light standards. Cisco Field is expected to hold 32-35,000 and based on drawings, would be much lower than 200 feet thanks to its two-deck design.

NIMBYs have more to worry about than just a ballpark. Diridon Station is eventually going to be a massive transit hub with BART running underground and HSR running above ground. Preliminary sketches of the HSR platform could have its canopy be 100 feet tall or more. High speed trains also make noise, though it's not of the diesel engine variety. The whole Diridon area is slated for medium rise development, which means lots of future construction, including piledrivers. Adobe bought the nearby San Jose Water Company land and plans an expansion at some point.

Proponents of the ballpark point to all of the naysaying regarding the arena's development. The arena didn't destroy either Shasta/Hanchett or the further away Rose Garden, and it actually led to redevelopment of downtown and the Cahill Park neighborhood immediately west of Diridon Station. A ballpark promises to bring 30,000 people into downtown 81 times a year, at many times simultaneously with a 17,000-person HP Pavilion event. A resident's approval may simply depend on whether or not bringing that many people into SJ is considered a good thing. San Jose isn't forever gripped in a small town/big city conundrum as Fremont is. San Jose's inferiority complex is palpable and pols for the last 20 years have tried to address it in numerous ways.

Herhold's status as a Shasta/Hanchett resident adds a twist. He acknowledges that so far, residents are majority opposed. At the end of his column, he proclaims his support of the ballpark, as long as it's a good deal for the city. He noted the success of HP Pavilion and its effect on the stretch of The Alameda that runs north of his neighborhood. I live closer to SJSU, so I don't have a stake in Shasta Hanchett. However, I may move there at some point to raise a family and take advantage of the schools there. It's also not a bad place if, in the future, I want to walk with my growing child to an A's or Sharks game. That said, I'm with Herhold on the ballpark issue. If the city can make a good deal, let's do it.

Note: I originally posted this without mentioning the neighborhood that would be most affected by a ballpark: Delmas Park.
It's directly under the approach to SJC airport. Sadly, Delmas Park isn't a moneyed enclave like Shasta/Hanchett or the Fremont neighborhoods. It's naturally going to be more difficult for them to have a say in all of this.

For my comments on the original SJ Ballpark EIR, see this post.

Comcast working behind the scenes

During Sunday's radio pregame show, A's broadcasting veep Ken Pries addressed how CSNCA was going to be carried on various systems. It doesn't completely clear up the confusion, but it's progress.

On DirecTV, the channel will carry the broadcasts with no blackouts. CSNCA currently exists on a non-basic tier, so CSN and DirecTV are trying to figure out a way to include the channel on basic. No word on whether or not Dish network will give the channel the same treatment.

CSNCA is moving from 400 to 89 on Bay Area Comcast. 89 may sound like an extended basic channel, but the definition of extended basic is about to change. The move coincides with Comcast's own digital transition. Throughout the rest of the year, they are taking all analog channels above 34 (35-99) and moving them to digital. That means that everyone who wants those channels will need some kind of set top box to enjoy them. Those who have STB's won't notice. Those using their TV's analog tuner will need STB's. Comcast and other cable operators have a few more years to complete their digital transition, but it's in their best interest to move these channels as quickly as possible. 7 or more digital standard definition (SD) feeds fit into a single analog channel slot. 2 HD feeds fit into one analog channel. Comcast will be able to take all of the analog channels and stuff them into 7-8 slots, which will free up a tremendous amount of bandwidth for additional broadband data and on demand video, plus new HD channels as they get rolled out. Comcast will continue to move more analog channels to digital until 2012, when their own transition deadline comes up.