Thursday, May 17, 2007

Priorities? Duh! What priorities?

For years, the streets in Santa Clara's South of Forest neighborhood have been a wreck. The city apparently has trouble scraping up the $15 million to fix this. Yet some Councilmembers are now enthusiastic about spending 20 times that amount to subsidize a stadium.

This was illustrated in stark contrast at the City Council meeting Tuesday night. In an impressive display of civic involvement, the South of Forest Neighborhood Association (SOFNA) presented a request to City Council to fix their streets.

Santa Clara or Sarajevo?

The South of Forest neighborhood has some of the most gruesome pavement seen anywhere since the war in the Balkans. Here are some of the pictures shown to City Council.

The hazards are very real. Here is what happens when kids ride their bicycles on these streets.

The residents of South of Forest are understandably very upset about this. They would like the city to fix their streets, and soon.

Compare their request to the proposed stadium.

  • The cost of street repairs is $15 million.
  • The city's share of the stadium costs has been estimated to be around $297 million.

  • The repaired streets will be available for enjoyment 24x7, 365 days a year.
  • The stadium would only be in use about 30 days a year. The rest of the time, well, it would be just as attractive to drug dealers as Candlestick or the Oakland Coliseum.

  • The SOFNA request got loud proclamations of sympathy from the entire Council. Councilmembers Moore and Caserta both talked of precinct walking in that neighborhood during their campaign. A member of the audience addressed Council afterwards, and pointedly wondered where have Messrs. Moore and Caserta been in the 3 years since the election.
  • The stadium, on the other hand, got this unabashed endorsement from Mr. Moore: "We're going to bring the ball all the way down the field and score on this one." (KPIX TV)

Misplaced priorities? You decide.


Here is a copy of SOFNA's presentation to City Council (982 KB.)


Mary said...

Yeah, fascinating City Council meeting, eh?

While they were tripping all over themselves to show support for the SOFNA residents, not one member of the council had a concrete idea on where to find the $15M needed to fix the sidewalks.

The closest they came was Councilmember Moore's suggestion to get Redevelopment Agency money. Those of you who attended the May 1st City Council Meeting already know that this would require the area to be found blighted, and that under current state laws a finding of blight would be almost impossible.

Even after City Staff gently reminded him of the unlikelihood of getting Redevelopment Agency funds, Mr. Moore persevered. Ultimately, he voted against directing City Staff to evaluate all avenues for funding a project that would have the streets & sidewalks fixed within 5 years.

Apparently, it is better to wish upon a star than to find a pragmatic solution...

Stadium Facts said...

I thought it was Caserta who first proposed the idea of a Redevelopment District, but either way, my first thought was "And exactly how much MORE would creating a redevelopment district add to the price of this project???"

I guess after the presentation on redevelopment districts, some members of the City Council thought it was a way to create free money.

Did they get some sort of great credit card offer in the mail—one with a $315 million limit and no interest for the first 6 months?