About 125 Sunnyvale, San Jose and Santa Clara residents living in the shadow of Levi’s Stadium voiced their frustrations about event-day issues affecting the quality of their lives at a community meeting hosted by the Santa Clara Police Department on Oct. 7.
Residents asked for action on traffic and parking issues; on-going noise disturbance from low-flying advertising banner planes, TV news channel helicopters, car and stadium fog horns, and the banging of setting up traffic barricades; all-night stadium lights shining into bedrooms; fan behavior such as urinating on the street and drinking and partying in cars parked in front of homes; and trash left behind.
Bicyclists were upset about the closure, requiring rerouting, of a .8-mile portion of the San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail during events with more than 20,000 people, questioning whether the closure was really necessary to meet Homeland Security requirements.
On hand to address the issues were stadium team members: Santa Clara Police Chief Mike Sellers; Sgt. Scott Fitzgerald, with the SCPD Homeland Security and Special Events Unit; 49ers Vice President of Stadium Operations & Security Jim Mercurio; and George Tacke, Valley Transit Authority manager for Levi’s Stadium and special events.
Some neighborhood concerns were prefaced by positive comments.
“There’s less traffic than we anticipated, but some mass attendees stay home—maybe they’re scared away—so we have a loss of four to six thousand dollars in offering every weekend there’s an event,” says Karen Ruiz, administrator of Our Lady of Peace Church and Shrine.
“I’m pleasantly surprised about parking. But I’ve been in the area 17 years, and I miss my quiet Sunday mornings,” says Pauline Basurto.
“From game to game, [traffic] is getting better,” commented another speaker.
Sellers says that [at the 49ers Sept. 14 inaugural home game] stadium exit time was two hours 35 minutes for parking lot 1. At the last game, for all 20 parking lots, the best exit time was 42 minutes, the longest was 1 hour 23 minutes, and the average was 1 hour 7 minutes.
“We do have to make tweaks, but I’m proud of what my officers have been able to do. This is one heck of an accomplishment—moving 15 to 18 thousand cars, bringing in a city within a city of people,” says Sellers.
Levi’s Stadium can hold 70,000 fans, more than half the population of Santa Clara, estimated at 120,245 in 2013.
“Right now, post-event, about 10,000 people were bused in a little over an hour. Based on the average number of people per car, the tally is about 4,000 cars kept off the roadway. I’m pretty proud of what my team has done,” says Tacke.
“I’m here to be part of the solution … I’m trying to create a working relationship with people who are impacted by the stadium we’ve built,” says Mercurio. “I don’t know that I’m going to be able to solve every problem…but we care … I’m listening, and if we can fix [the problems], we will.”
Yet despite the collaboration and ongoing best efforts of the Santa Clara Police Department, the 49ers Stadium Authority and the Valley Transit Authority, in the end, those living in the shadow of Levi’s Stadium have little recourse on event days but to make the best of a game-changing penalty.
The 7 p.m. meeting (the sixth since April) at Don Callejon School in Santa Clara went overtime to 9 p.m. Some of the concerns voiced had been raised before and already are addressed on the Santa Clara Police Department website (www.scpd.org) under the tab “Levi’s Stadium Information.” The city website (www.santaclaraca.gov) also provides stadium information. Both sites include links to live-streaming traffic cameras.