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Santa Clara City Desk: July 3, 2013

RDA Oversight Board Postpones Stadium Payment Decision to July

“I hear one thing and I hear another and I’m not sure how it all ties together.” That was Chairman of the Santa Clara RDA Successor Agency Don Gage speaking on June 18 about the former RDA’s financial obligations. But it could have been anyone trying to untangle the RDA dissolution muddle that just seems to get more – not less – confused with every meeting held by this body.

The purpose of the Oversight Board’s meetings is to decide on the legitimate obligations to be paid in each cycle of RDA payments (the Recognized Obligation Payment Schedule, ROPS). The major item for the June 18 meeting was $5.6 of $30 million payments from RDA revenues due the 49ers stadium company (StadCo) as part of the Measure J stadium construction financing plan approved by Santa Clara voters in 2010.

In March 22, a Sacramento court ruled that the obligation was valid and enforceable under the RDA dissolution law passed by the state legislature in 2011.

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However, the judge left it to the RDA Successor Agency to determine what payments were due StadCo and when, based on the preconditions of the Stadium Agreements. The result was a nearly four-hour meeting – including two closed session discussions – and a resolution to continue the discussion at the Oversight Board’s July 19 meeting.

By the law that abolished the RDAs, every dollar that isn’t paid out as an RDA obligation is a dollar distributed among county taxing entities – schools, the water department etc. Five members of the Oversight Board represent those taxing entities, and two represent the City.

The county’s position is that even if the court ruling is to be followed, no money is necessarily due now and that the expenses documented as part of the recognized predevelopment costs should be carefully scrutinized. (At the prior Oversight Board meeting county attorney James Williams appeared to suggest, astonishingly, that the Board didn’t have to necessarily follow the judge’s ruling).

The City’s position is that the preconditions have been met and that StadCo is due the $5.6 million in the current cycle of RDA obligation payments – which would actually be paid out in October.

The July 19 meeting is at 2 p.m. in the Council Chambers. Meetings are open to the public. About $240 million in lease revenues and real estate is ultimately at stake in the dissolution of Santa Clara’s RDA.

For more information, visit santaclaraca.gov/index.aspx?page=218. Links to meeting agendas and video are at santaclaraca.gov/index.aspx?page=1504.

Impatient Commuters – Not School – Are Culprits in Homestead/San Tomas Traffic

When Live Oak School applied for a five-year use permit to continue operations at 2499 Homestead Road (First Presbyterian Church) some neighbors objected, saying that the private K-12 school was causing traffic problems at the already-busy intersection of San Tomas and Homestead.

However, Live Oak is a small, home-schooler coop and only a small number of students are on the campus at any one time. It turns out that much of the weekday traffic through the driveway was coming from drivers who make a right turn and cut through the parking lot to avoid the lengthy light at the San Tomas intersection.

As a condition of approving the school’s use permit, the City asked that one of the driveways be closed on weekdays to discourage cut-throughs. There is already a No-U-Turn sign on Homestead immediately south of San Tomas.

Council Codifies 2-Minute Speaking Limit

The City Council approved a resolution 6-1 to change the City Code that limits the amount of time members of the public can speak on a single agenda item at City Council meetings. Although the ordinance limits the time to three minutes in most cases, the practice for the last several years has been to limit remarks to two minutes.

However, many City documents refer to the three minutes specified in the ordinance, creating confusion, City staff says, and they asked that the ordinance be changed to reflect actual practice. “It’s important what the public sees,” said Santa Clara City Clerk Rod Diridon Jr. “It’s important that whatever the city code is, is the actual practice.”

The council approved the change 6-1, with Council Member Teresa O’Neill registering a ‘no’ vote in favor of retaining the original three-minute limit.

New Contracts With City Employees Continue Furloughs, Flat Pay Scales

In closed session, the Council unanimously approved a two-year contract – Memorandum of Understanding, MOU – with Santa Clara Police Management. Like the other MOUs approved this year, it included flat salaries and continued furlough days.

The agreement specifies no change in salary levels, and 40 annual furlough hours; with a proviso that the second year’s furlough days can be extended to 72 hours contingent on the effect of the RDA dissolution on Santa Clara’s budget. The City will also cover increases in medical insurance premiums at the Kaiser employee-only rate.

Commission Openings Offer Opportunities to Serve

Want an inside view of how the city works? One way to get it is by serving on a City commission. All that’s needed is to be a registered Santa Clara voter.

The Council will be making appointments to three Santa Clara Commissions – Historical and Landmarks, Senior Advisory, and the Rehabilitation Loan Committee – at the July 16 meeting. Interviews will be held at 6 p.m., immediately before the regular Council session. Applications are due July 10 and the forms are available at City Hall and online at santaclaraca.gov/index.aspx?page=378.

Requiescat in Pace

The June 25 meeting was adjourned in memory of two longtime Santa Clara residents: May Chu and Winnie Hook. May Chu was an active supporter of the Chinese American Citizens League, and the Salvation Army, and was named a Mother of the Year by the Chinese Woman’s Club of San Francisco.

Lively and engaged with life right up until her death at 107, Winnie Hook was a Santa Clara legend in her own right, as well as the mother-in-law to former Santa Clara Mayor Bill Gissler. She was one of the last living survivors of the 1906 earthquake.

After she married Wilber Hook, the couple moved to Santa Clara in 1927 where their two daughters grew up. Hook was an active member of the community, raising money for Santa Clara University scholarships, serving on the library board, and most recently, cutting the ribbon at the grand opening of Justin’s restaurant in the Franklin Mall. She leaves more than 60 descendants, including a dozen great, great-grandchildren.

The meeting was also adjourned in memory of elevator mechanic Donald White who died on the stadium jobsite on June 11 in an accident. “He well loved by all who met him,” said Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews. The 49ers and the Santa Clara Stadium Authority intend to plant a tree in the west plaza of the stadium in White’s honor.

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