Members of the Santa Clara Stadium Authority took issue with another aspect of how the management company in charge of Levi’s Stadium is handling operations.
The point of contention came Tuesday night when the Stadium Authority/City Council Members learned that Wednesday night’s U2 concert would go until 11 p.m. despite the Council’s vote in January, which denied an extension past the 10 p.m. curfew. The concert’s late conclusion coupled with the website’s claim that light rail would be available when it was not, would have potentially left thousands of concert-goers without transportation.
City Attorney Brian Doyle said the 49ers Stadium Management Company (ManCo) “clearly violated the will of the City,” adding that it is “not adequately managing non-NFL events.” He said it is time to have a “blunt conversation with [ManCo’s] management.”
“I would characterize this as an anticipated breach of the contract,” Doyle said. “They should have to compensate the City for all its efforts to have to deal with this … They need to improve their management.”
Council Member Kathy Watanabe said she would like the noise ordinance to “have more teeth” to punish ManCo for violating, adding that a $1,000 fine is not enough to send a message, a sentiment echoed by Doyle and Mayor Lisa Gillmor.
Council mainstay Kirk Vartan, who owns a pizzeria in Santa Clara, said that what ManCo did constitutes insubordination, something for which an employer has just cause to fire a subordinate.
Fellow Council mainstay Scott Lane took minced words even less, comparing the City to Tina Turner and ManCo to Ike Turner. He added that the City should discover how much profit the 49ers made from the concert and sue it for that amount.
Representatives for ManCo did not attend the meeting.
“This is our city. This is our stadium. If they don’t want to play by the rules, we have to throw the book at them,” Hosam Haggag said.
A “gatekeeper” policy for general plan amendments also saw much discussion but ended simply with the Council opting to institute the policy, now dubbed “early consideration,” moving forward. The process allows the Council to deny projects early if the developer is asking for a general plan amendment and the Council believes the development does not fit within the scope of the general plan, saving developers and City employees time.
Lee Butler, planning director, recommended that four developments already in the works be exempt: the Graystar project, a high-density office and very-high-density residential complex to be located on Freedom Circle; the Mariani Project, a regional mixed-use development with high-density senior housing and a hotel on El Camino Real; the Prometheus project, a ground-floor commercial development with very-high-density residential above along Benton Street; and the Hunter project, another very-high-density residential and hotel development.
The Council passed the recommendation unanimously.
The Council also discussed the upcoming budget, which aims to focus on some deferred maintenance issues.
“Most of our facilities are quite old, so we want to make sure we keep them in good condition so we can enhance their lifecycle,” said City Manager Rajeev Batra.
However, unless city employees can identify some new sources of money, Santa Clara will be operating at a deficit within six years. Although the Council has made tackling deferred maintenance a priority, doing that would deplete the City’s capital reserves.
Batra said his department will continue to consider the best options for how to fill the City’s coffers, including the possibility of devoting employees full-time to pursuing grants, employing consultants and instituting infrastructure fees.
Various department heads gave broad overviews of the big projects set to begin next year and in the next six years. The Council will take a closer look at the budget during these two study sessions–one discussing capital improvements and another discussing operations. The Council will discuss the operating budget at its next meeting. Approval of the budget is scheduled for the Council’s June 13 meeting but must be passed by the beginning of July.
Vice Mayor Dominic Caserta was absent. The next meeting is 7 p.m. May 23 at Santa Clara City Hall, 1500 Warburton Ave.