49ers Stadium: Opponents' Of Financing Plan Running Out Of Options

Back in early December, the San Francisco 49ers and the city of Santa Clara came up with $850 million worth of loans that they would use to pay for the team's new stadium. The loans were subsequently approved by the Santa Clara Stadium Authority with the plan being for serious construction to begin this spring. The team has begun releasing prices for PSLs (they're calling them Stadium Builder Licenses) on some of the club seats and will continue releasing pricing information.

Given that this is California, somebody is not happy about the process. A group in Santa Clara has opposed the current plan under the belief that it is sufficiently different from the original financing plans. They recently submitted a pair of referendum petitions each with 5,500 signatures challenging the development and financing plans for the project. Recently the Santa Clara City Council voted 5-2 to discard the petitions, contending its actions were immune from referendum.

The legal rationale, outlined in a series of previous court cases unrelated to the stadium, is that only "legislative" acts, those that make new policies for a state or local government, can be enacted by voter initiatives or undone by referendums. "Administrative" acts, which tell government officials how to implement their policy, cannot be overturned by referendum or approved by voter initiative.

The group will apparently continue to fight this contending the original measure presented to the voters. It could make for a sticky situation, although the courts have seemed to side with the local governments in the recent past.

Although there might be some differences, the 49ers remain the ones on the line in this whole deal. Although both the 49ers and the county's stadium authority have taken out loans, it is my understanding that the 49ers are the collateral on this loan. The city will not find itself suddenly on the hook for close to a billion dollars in loans. That won't stop groups from protesting, but that's going to happen I suppose. I just want to see shovels in the ground.

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