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City Desk: Oct 9 2014

Greater Soccer Field Availability on the Horizon

The Sept. 30 Santa Clara City Council meeting offered a partial answer to the search for more soccer fields in the city. Last Spring, the City Council appropriated $2 million to identify additional fields and expedite refurbishing them.

The Council agreed to begin discussions with Santa Clara Unified School District and The Kings Academy (which already has an agreement that allows Santa Clara teams to use its field) about the city’s offer to install synthetic turf in return for a facility use agreement that allows additional City and community sports use at Santa Clara High School, Wilcox High School, Townsend Field, Washington Park and The Kings Academy. While the present focus is on soccer, the fields could be available for other uses, said Parks & Recreation Director Jim Teixeira.

“This opens a discussion with the school district about resources we both can share,” said City Manager Julio Fuentes. “It’s a good example of two entities working together, and apply resources that will benefit the children.” The City-School District Liaison Committee will work on the proposal.

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That committee is chaired by Mayor Jamie Matthews, and includes Council Members Patricia Mahan and Teresa O’Neill; SCUSD Trustees Andy Ratermann, Michele Ryan, and Christopher Stampolis; Fuentes, Teixeira, Police Chief Mike Sellers, and Planning Director Kevin Riley; and SCUSD Superintendent Stan Rose.

First Look at New Residential Developer Fee Later This Month

The new development fees approved by the Council last July should be unveiled in the coming month, possibly as early as the Oct. 14 meeting, Fuentes told the Council last week.

“We are still working on a model of what the fees will be – we’re at a point where we’re pretty comfortable with the number. We’ve been having a number of meetings with developer community. Everything is going well to implement if the council approves what we’re recommending.”

The new fee “establishes reasonable relationship between new residential development and the need for new parkland and facilities to meet growth demands,” Teixeira told the Council last summer.

The ordinance doesn’t set fee amounts, only the formula for calculating them based on density, parkland acres required per 1,000 residents, and the fair market value of land – established by an annual survey. Estimates show revenue from these fees delivering $385 to $452 million to the city over the next 20 years. The money will be used principally to buy land and develop new parks.

Santa Clara is the last city in the area to impose development fees. Previously, the City’s only residential development fee was a $15/bedroom fee set in the 1960s. Trends over the last 30 years have straight-jacketed local governments options for funding infrastructure – including Prop 13, declining state and federal grants, the shuttering of the state’s redevelopment agencies, and decreasing support for infrastructure bond measures.

Levi’s Stadium Financials Healthy

At the meeting, the Council accepted the Stadium Authority’s audited financials for the last fiscal year – April 1, 2013 through March 30, 2014. Candidate for Mayor and long-time stadium opponent Deborah Bress noted that the report shows liabilities exceeding assets by $12 million.

That would make for some political “I told you so” fodder for stadium opponents – except that the number doesn’t reflect stadium operations. It reflects the construction progress total as of March 30, and an accounting change mandated by the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) that restricts classifying items as “deferred,” explained City Finance Director Gary Ameling.

“GASB 65 requires us to fully put on to our books the future debt payments, so this is an accounting issue rather than an issue with respect to the Stadium Authority, “explained Ameling.

“The current plan … is still anticipated to be fully covering all the debt payments,” he continued. The Stadium Authority’s revenue – including the 49ers $24.5 million lease payment, naming rights, the 10 percent city surcharge on NFL tickets, and Seat Builder Licenses (SBL) – is still anticipated to fully cover all the debt service and stadium operating costs. Plus, the overall construction debt of $653 million is well over the $950 million that the financing was originally set up to provide.

“The SBL sales is a good news item,” Ameling added. “Over 95 percent have been sold as of the date of the audit, and virtually all the remaining SBLs have been sold since then.” Further, SBL sales have raised $500 million and over $300 million in cash payments.

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