14 May 2009

Reed moving swiftly

While I was walking an always enthusiastic JoJo on Tuesday morning prior to the Wolff chat, Wolff was having breakfast with San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. (So that explains why he wasn't hungry...) Perhaps they were exchanging info, perhaps not. It was a busy day for Lew, as he mentioned that he was headed up to Oakland as our discussion ended.

Anyway, Reed is playing this like he's running a two minute drill. He wants the City to be prepared to put some kind of ballpark measure on the ballot in November. There's all sorts of speculation about what language such a measure might contain. Let's take a look at the options:
  • Vote to approve site prep and land to be sold at market price
  • Vote to approve site prep and land to be sold below market price
  • Vote to approve site prep and land to be leased at or below market price
  • Vote to approve site prep, land, and TBD off-site infrastructure work (PG&E substation, Fire Training site relocations)
The site is not ready to build. Buildings will need to be demolished, utilities will have to be relocated, and some site remediation may be required IIRC. Option #1 might not trigger a referendum since those steps would be taken for any big development. Options #2 & #4 definitely would trigger. #3 is conditional.

There's also some question as to whether or not such a measure would be truly binding or not. The City of Santa Clara wrestled with this very matter before deciding to make its still-delayed 49ers vote non-binding. Obviously, the structure of the deal (money outlay) would be the big determinant. There may be legal wiggle room if one of the less costly options above were chosen.

If we can project, it becomes apparent which steps are likely along with the endgame. (Color coding: orange = 60-90 days, blue = 90-120 days, green = 120-150 days, red = 150-180 days)
  • Continued land acquisitions throughout the summer
  • Release of "blue ribbon committee" report
  • Release of updated draft EIR, start of review period
  • Release of ballpark economic impact report
  • Determination of required site changes
  • Shaping of November ballot measure and official placement on ballot
  • Release of final EIR and certification
  • Pro-ballpark advertising blitz (may/may not include official participation by the A's?)
  • Election
  • Baseball winter meetings, action on T-rights/relocation
  • A's and San Jose are allowed to officially start negotiating business terms
I suppose this could be interpreted as both San Jose and MLB meeting each other halfway. San Jose sets the table, lines up public and private support, preps a site, and shows its hand financially. MLB gets to wait to decide until all of these issues are addressed. Can San Jose really work this quickly? It'll be a major feather in Reed's cap if he can pull it off. Fortunately for him, a lot of important San Jose people, including the City Council, are right behind him.

Speaking of the Niners, there's a chance that the Santa Clara stadium will be on that city's November ballot. That would create a situation in which both measures
inevitably would be compared in the media. One of them will come out looking worse, and while they wouldn't compete with each other at the ballot box, some voters undoubtedly will consider the other city's measure as a point of comparison.