Whether the Police Activities League (PAL) will continue to manage Santa Clara’s BMX track was at issue again at the Santa Clara City Council’s most recent meeting.
During its first meeting of the year, the Council heard disputes about whether to continue to allow PAL to operate the City’s BMX track after a much-heated debate on the issue last year. PAL previously fired the volunteer operator after it suspected financial chicanery, which in turn caused the track to lose its national sanction.
That sanction, issued by USA BMX, as it turns out, matters a great deal to a plethora of riders, who turned out in droves in May last year to lay the blame at PAL’s feet. Although the item was simply a note-and-file report, there was much back and forth about what to do with the track, which sits in the footprint of the gargantuan Related development, in the absence of a national sanction.
Since the dismissal of the volunteer operators, the track has become a practice track. Exactly how many riders attend the track was a point of contention with Mike Walke, president of PAL, saying the ridership has dipped from between 300 and 350 riders a week to roughly 200 riders a week. Others disputed the numbers, saying it has dropped roughly 75%.
Many PAL opponents said the organization is inflating its numbers, something a PayPal audit would answer.
Shprese Head, speaking on behalf of numerous BMX enthusiasts, said the track is falling short of what many in the BMX community want. She pointed to PAL’s failure to pay more than $15,000 in rent until it was “under the microscope” as evidence that PAL is incapable of managing the track.
Cynthia Bojorquez, assistant city manager, said PAL had been derelict on their rent but has since paid up to date.
We really need a sanctioned track, and we really need the mayor and the City Council to step up to make this happen,” Head said.
Others voiced concerns over brand Cookies SF advertising at the track, which is mostly populated by children.
Council Member Suds Jain said he didn’t understand why PAL and USA BMX, which expressed interest in dealing with the City directly, couldn’t work out their differences. He said he was “struggling” and “undecided” as to how to approach the issue.
Others defended PAL, including Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Council Member Kathy Watanabe. Gillmor said she would like to see riders put pressure on USA BMX to issue the sanction, adding that it “seems very odd and very suspicious” and that the issue seems to be “personal and financial.”
“I don’t like hearing PAL constantly being put down, because I know how much PAL has put into the track,” Watanabe said. “There is just a lot of negativity putting toward PAL and getting them to lose the operation of the track…There is a way to get this worked out, but attacking PAL is not the way to do this.”
The police union, the Police Officers Association (POA), has supported Gillmor repeatedly during her political tenure.
The Council voted unanimously to note and file the report.
City Hiresn Glen Googins as New City Attorney
The Council pulled a consent calendar item to hire a new city attorney. After firing former City Attorney Brian Doyle, the Council went almost a year without someone in that role.
Gillmor and Watanabe both opposed the appointment, with Gillmor repeatedly calling the move “financial abuse.”
“We have spent so much time, money and effort to fill this position,” she said. “It has been a bad decision from the beginning.”
Both Council Members Anthony Becker and Raj Chahal called Watanabe and Gillmor’s opposition to hiring Glen Googins, former deputy city attorney of Chula Vista, “hypocrisy.”
“If you are going to blame anybody, blame yourselves, because this goes back years. This is not our fault,” Becker said.
The City will pay Googins $345,000 a year.
Council Member Kevin Park said, although Googins will earn more than Doyle, with cost-of-living adjustments, Googins’ salary is competitive with other city attorneys and likely on par with what Doyle would be making given such an adjustment. Anyway, he added, the problem with Doyle was never his wage.
“Having the wrong person in a role is more damaging than having no person in a role,” Park said.
The Council approved the appointment of Googins in a 5-2 vote, with Gillmor and Watanabe voting “no.”
Consent Calendar Spending
- A three-year software subscription agreement with Cisco for $69,298.
- An $1,850 purchase order with MedixSafe for a drug safe.
- A $1,5283 purchase order with Orlandi Trailer for a trailer for events at Levi’s Stadium.
- A $740 purchase order with Dell for computer monitors.
- A $1,391 purchase order with Pivot Interiors for an office chair.
- A five-year $2.25 million agreement with Reliability Optimization for maintenance at Levi’s Stadium.
- A $580,695 agreement with Galeb Paving for stormwater compliance.
- Consulting services for the Related project: a $30,000 one-year extension to a contract with Milstone Geotechnical Consulting Services; total contract is now $200,000; a $30,000 amendment to a contract Robert E. Van Heuit; total contract is now $430,000.
- A $3.09 million agreement with Devcon Construction to replace seating at Levi’s Stadium.
The next regularly scheduled meeting is Tuesday, Jan. 31 in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1500 Warburton Ave. in Santa Clara.
Members of the public can participate in the City Council meetings on Zoom at https://santaclaraca.zoom.us/j/99706759306; Meeting ID: 997-0675-9306 or call 1(669) 900-6833, via the City’s eComment (available during the meeting) or by email to PublicComment@santaclaraca.gov.