At last Thursday’s special Santa Clara Stadium Authority meeting Santa Clara residents learned that one of the most pressing civic challenges posed by having the 65,000-seat Levi’s Stadium in town was the need for more porta-potties in parking lots.
This need came to light as a result of a $290,000 public opinion study by Oakland-based Lew Edwards Group, EMC Research and San José-based Public Dialogue Consortium commissioned by the City last December.
The consultants did a variety of surveys, community meetings with self-selected participants and focus groups with independently selected participants.
They conducted citywide surveys of 600 residents and businesses as well as two near-neighbor studies that included residents and businesses in Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, and San Jose near Levi’s Stadium. The consultants reported that the turnout for community meetings was notably lower than they expected.
Overall, Santa Clara got good marks from voters for city management (64 percent approval), keeping residents informed (60 percent approval) and responding to residents’ concerns and complaints (51 percent approval).
Residents gave Santa Clara high marks as a place to live — 80 percent citywide and 90 percent for stadium near-neighbors. The top three benefits of living in Santa Clara say both voters and near-neighbors are its convenient location, “small town” feel and the community itself.
The top negative was traffic, followed by the high cost of living and then growth/new housing/development — although only five percent of voters gave “lived here for many years” as a top reason for living in Santa Clara.
Traffic also topped the survey’s list of residents’ concerns about Levi’s Stadium followed by neighborhood parking problems near Levi’s, littering, and public drinking and drug use.
A majority of survey respondents said they were “very” or “somewhat” concerned with traffic (69 percent citywide and 78 percent of near-neighbors) and neighborhood parking (50 percent citywide and 62 percent for near-neighbors).
Only 35 percent of both citywide residents and near-neighbors said they were “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about how late weeknight events go and only 31 percent of citywide residents and 36 percent of near-neighbors were “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about noise from night-time events.
A big stadium issue, in terms of what people independently brought up most, is a problem with public urination —no information about complaints to the police or the City were provided.
“Public urination comes up a lot,” in discussions and surveys, Sean Spano of Public Dialog Consortium reported. “Fifty percent of the people asked for more porta-potties in parking lots.”
Spano said that the “energy and passion” is with those who have complaints about the stadium, who were more likely to participate in focus groups and community meetings.
“I’m not surprised people who liked the stadium weren’t going to come out to say what would take five minutes,” he said. Another unsurprising result was that people who live near the stadium have more complaints than those who don’t.
The consultants also registered a lack of trust between the community and 49ers, and the City.
“This is due, mostly, to a perceived lack of financial transparency and follow through on initial agreements made when the Stadium was being considered,” said the Lew Edwards report.
“To have this data is key because we had so much stuff coming at us,” said Stadium Authority Board Member Debi Davis, who noted that parking lots at Pebble Beach golf tournaments were much better maintained and patrolled than those at Levi’s Stadium.
“The promises that were made are promises that need to be kept,” said Stadium Authority Board Chair Lisa Gillmor. Saying that she was proud that all residents shared a neighborly concern for Northside residents, “We consider ourselves a large small town and we care about our neighbors.”
Stadium Authority Board Executive Director Deanna Santana told the Board that the next step was developing a work plan for incremental changes to be approved by the Board — which presumably will include more porta-potties in parking lots.
Santa Clara isn’t alone in having a public urination problem at sports stadiums. Munich is considering an unusual approach to such problems at its soccer stadium: www.citylab.com/life/2018/05/public-urination-solutions-pee-beds-stadiums/561251/