On June 8, Santa Clara will be conducting an election that includes a variety of primaries, offices, and local measures. For the purposes of Niners Nation, the most important part of the election is Local Measure J:
Shall the City of Santa Clara adopt Ordinance 17.20 leasing City property for a professional football stadium and other events; no use of City General or Enterprise finds for construction; no new taxes for residents for stadium; Redevelopment Agency funds capped for construction; private party pays all construction cost overruns; no City/Agency obligation for stadium operating/maintenance; private party payment of projected fair market rent; and additional funds for senior/youth/library/recreation to City's General Fund?
A simple majority vote is required, and as of a couple weeks ago, the polls indicate a tight battle on this. At that point, 52% of likely voters planned to vote yes on Measure J. Although proponents of the project would appear to be ahead, the poll also indicated that 49% of the most reliable voters were in favor of the proposition. What that means is that if voter turnout is low, the measure would seem to have a better shot of losing. If voter turnout is a bit higher than normal, the measure might have a better chance at passing.
Now, passing this measure certainly does not guarantee the 49ers will get a new stadium built in Santa Clara. It is a major step in the right direction, but no guarantee. However, if the measure fails, I'm fairly certain that means the 49ers will not be building a new stadium in Santa Clara. They still could get a deal done somewhere else, but it clearly adds more hurdles and lengthens a process that has already dragged on for quite some time.
This deal obviously isn't optimal for anybody. Both sides will have to make some sacrifices to get this done. At the same time, I would argue that Santa Clara is getting a better deal than many cities have received in the past when it comes to building a new stadium. It could always be a better deal, but all things considered, I think they've done fairly well for themselves. At the same time, the 49ers get a stadium, which is exactly what they need. They're kicking in a lot of money for it, but at some point you have to pay the piper.
So basically, I've decided that I want to do what I can to help get this measure passed. I don't exactly have a ton of influence, but if some of you have not yet registered to vote in the June 8 election, there is still time to register, and I strongly encourage you to do so. If you're a Santa Clara county resident, the deadline to register is May 24, and I actually think that if you mail in your registration, that's the date it needs to be postmarked. Whatever the case, please make sure and get registered to vote as soon as possible. And more importantly, if you're a Santa Clara resident, and are registered, or will be registering soon, make sure that on June 8 you go out and vote YES ON J.
After the jump I've posted some information from the voter guide titled "City Attorney's Impartial Analysis of Measure J." It does not go into the various arguments from both sides, but looks more at the hard numbers. For a look at the various arguments, check out the voter information guided here.
CITY ATTORNEY'S IMPARTIAL ANALYSIS OF MEASURE J
This measure would add Chapter 17.20, entitled "Professional Football Stadium Ground Lease," to the Code of the CIty of Santa Clara.
Under existing law, the City Council can lease City-owned land for any public purpose. A long term lease of land is called a "ground lease."
If approved by majority vote, Chapter 17.20 would require any ground lease of City property for a stadium suitable for professional football to include these requirements:
- The ground lease would be a to a new legal entity created by the City and its Redevelopment Agency called the "Santa Clara Stadium Authority."
- Neither the City nor its Redevelopment Agency would be liable for Stadium Authority obligations although the City could elect to pay operating and maintenance expenses of certain events it conducts or approves.
- The initial ground lease term would be 40 years.
- The ground lease would require the Stadium Authority pay the City "base rent" totaling $40,875,000 in nominal dollars over the 40-year term and would require the Stadium Authority pay the City "performance based rent" pursuant to a formula. Together, the "base rent" and "performance based rent" are called "ground rent."
- The ground lease would also require payment of a $0.35 fee per football ticket, to a maximum of $250,000/year, for City senior and youth park, recreation and library programs, such as the "Youth Championship Team Fund."
- The ground lease would require the Stadium Authority lease the property or stadium to a private tenant who would use the stadium for one or two professional football teams and other events.
- The tenant's lease would require the tenant pay rent to the Stadium Authority sufficient to pay the "ground rent" to the City and stadium operating/maintenance expenses, a capital improvements reserve, and to reimburse reasonable City public safety and traffic management costs.
- The tenant's lease would require it pay stadium construction cost overruns.
- The City could not use or pledge any general funds or enterprise funds (electric, water, sewer) for stadium financing or development, except if the City opts to relocate/reconfigure an electrical substation.
- The City could not allow its ownership interest of the property, in any other property or in the "ground rent" to be used to secure stadium financing.
- The ground lease would limit Redevelopment Agency funding for stadium construction to $40,000,000 (exclusive of debt service, financing costs and payments for development fees). The tenant would be required to repay amounts the Agency actually contributed to construction costs and development fees if a second team occupies the stadium.
- The ground lease would not rely on any new or increased taxes for stadium development, operation or maintenance except a possible special tax imposed upon hotels, with consent of the landowners, to fund up to $35,000,000 for stadium development and infrastructure.
Measure J requires a majority vote. If approved, only the voters could amend Chapter 17.20.