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Santa Clara City Observer: Jan. 20, 2016

Santa Clara Scores Touchdown on Super Bowl Public Safety Costs

Santa Clara is already getting paid for Super Bowl-related public safety costs by the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee – possibly a first in the history of the event.

The City has already been paid $615,700 to cover pre-event expenses and will receive a Game Day advance of $1.4 million (50 percent of anticipated City costs). To cover the remaining costs, the Host Committee will deposit $1.6 million in a dedicated escrow account, with payment due within 30 days.

Santa Clara has charted new Super Bowl territory by negotiating for public safety cost reimbursement from the Host Committee. The City’s is “one of the first agreements like this that have been done in the history of the Super Bowl,” City Manager Julio Fuentes said at the Jan. 14 Santa Clara City Council meeting. That reimbursement was in the Super Bowl contracts the Council approved on March 19, 2013.

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Public safety is one of the biggest costs for a municipality hosting the mega-event. Last year Super Bowl 49 host city Glendale, Arizona found that the game cost that city $579,000 more than it brought in city revenue because of unreimbursed public safety costs (about $1.6 million), according to report published by Glendale in Oct. 2015, “Super Bowl XLIX – Post Event Analysis” (tinyurl.com/hjd4w8o).

At the time of the bid, 2011, “the Host Committee expressed their intention to work with Glendale to seek state assistance for public safety costs to insure fair allocation of expenses and benefits among those cities involved in hosting events,” the report says. “However, without Glendale’s resolution to pay for these costs, the Host Committee advised they would have no alternative but to tell the NFL that Arizona would be unable to submit a bid for Super Bowl XLIX.”

But in the end, Glendale was stuck with the costs while . In 2014 Arizona’s state legislature voted down a bill that to reimburse Glendale for its Super Bowl costs. The event brought the state over $700 million worth of economic benefits, according analysis by Arizona State University’s Carey School of Business.

Municipalities hosting the Super Bowl negotiate contracts with the Host Committee, not the NFL. The Host Committee, a private entity not subject to public information disclosure laws, presents the final bid to the NFL. Although the NFL doesn’t disclose its bid requirements, the 2011 version is on Glendale’s website (tinyurl.com/j3cblzy) and the 2013 version was published by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (tinyurl.com/gt7vrcr).

17 Appointments to Charter Review Committee

For the second time in five years, the Santa Clara City Council appointed a Charter Review Committee to review the City’s method of electing City Council Members – its at-large, by seat system. The Committee also was given direction to look at Council Member pay, currently $833 per month, “and other elements of the City Charter that are not in compliance with current laws or best practices.”

Fifteen of the 17 committee members were appointed by the City Council. Each Council Member makes one appointment. Another eight were chosen by the Council as a body, and the Citizens Advisory Committee and the Chamber of Commerce each made one appointment.

Changes to Santa Clara’s Charter must be approved by City voters in a regular general election (not a primary or off-year election). The City Council, however, decides whether to bring recommended changes to the voters.

In 2011, a Charter Review committee recommended that the City change immediately to an at-large election system; with the goal of implementing an instant run-off system at such time as the County Registrar of Voters’ was able to support that type of election. The Council, however, voted 5-2, to maintain the status quo.

This time, however, some Council Members signaled an inclination last October – when it voted to embark on the Charter review – to change to by-district elections.

Lobbyist and Open Calendar Ordinances Finalized

It stands to reason those with interest in a particular political outcome – whether it’s making it easier for first-time buyers to purchase a house or getting approval for a new Wal-Mart – will pay people with the connections and skill to advocate for their interests.

It’s called “lobbying” and we have a love-hate relationship with it. When our opponents do it, we often call it special interests corrupting the political process. When we do it, we call it making our voices heard. (The term “lobbying” comes from the British Parliament’s practice of meeting with constituents in the hallway after debates, according to a BBC report). California has no standard law regulating lobbying.

Last summer Santa Clara’s Council Ethics Committee took the first step toward joining the growing number of cities requiring lobbyists to register and publically disclose their activities. The full Council reviewed draft ordinances last December and passed the final version into law at the Jan. 12 Council meeting.

The law requires lobbyists to register annually and to identify their clients and the policies or legislation they’re trying to influence. There are fees for registering and penalties for failing to register. Lobbyists must also identify themselves as such when they speak at public meetings.

There has been some concern about who exactly is considered a lobbyist. Quite simply, a lobbyist is someone who is hired and paid to influence government decisions. The law doesn’t consider as lobbyists: officials of non-profits, licensed professionals (civil engineers, attorneys), public officials, journalists and media, those asked to speak or provide information at public meetings, representatives of companies responding to RFPs, neighborhood associations and employee union representatives.

Santa Clara’s ordinance is similar to San Jose’s lobbyist reporting regulation. (To see how that works, visit www.sanjoseca.gov/index.aspx?NID=474).

RDA Shutdown Update

On Jan 21 the Oversight Board of the Santa Clara RDA Successor agency began the process of selling former Santa Clara RDA properties by deciding how to appoint a bid evaluation team. The three-member team will have one representative from the City of Santa Clara and two from county taxing entities. The plan is to sell the properties by August of this year.

Although the City will spend an estimated $249,000 in RDA shut-down costs during the current fiscal year, it won’t receive any reimbursement, because the there isn’t enough money in Santa Clara’s Redevelopment Property Tax Trust Fund (RPTTF), according to the provisions of the state legislature’s latest “clarification” of the RDA shut-down law (2011’s ABx16) Senate Bill 107.

Previously, the City was entitled to 3 percent of the RPTTF revenues. Senate Bill 107 (2015) reduced the amount available by subtracting certain loan payments and the previous year’s administration costs.

This year Santa Clara County is estimated to collect $4.3 million from the Santa Clara RDA shutdown, West Valley Mission Community College District $2.5 million, and Santa Clara Unified School District $5.3 million.

Despite the fact that the SCUSD will be building three new schools in North San Jose to serve north-of-101 residents, it won’t receive anything from the San Jose RDA shutdown because that all of that agency’s tax revenue is currently needed to pay off bonds.

In other business, the Council:

  • Reported that Santa Clara has divested itself of ownership in the San Juan coal-fired electric plant in New Mexico. This now makes Santa Clara’s City-owned electric company, Silicon Valley Power, a coal-free utility.
  • Approved a 40-unit for-sale townhouse development at the corner of Alviso St. and El Camino Real by Southern California-based City Ventures, which specializes in urban infill development. Ten percent of the units will be middle income “affordable.” The site is currently storing junk cars.
  • Approved a zoning change for 100 N. Winchester to allow construction of two four-story apartment buildings with a total of 92 one- and two-bedroom market rate apartments. The development will be exclusively an exclusively over-55 residence. The site is currently an underutilized medical office building, and plans for redeveloping it as housing go back at least five years.
  • Continued to Jan. 26 the discussion about 2016 residential development fees. The Building Industry and California Apartment Associations prepared their own analysis of land valuation, asserting that the Schmidt-Prescott Group’s valuation of Santa Clara land ($4.9 million – $5.2 million per acre) overstated land value by 35 to 40 percent, because Schmidt-Prescott excluded relevant transactions. Those valuations would increase developer fees to $35,000 to $48,000 per residential unit, from $22,000 to $37,000.

Requiescat in Pace

The Jan. 12 Santa Clara City Council meeting adjourned in memory of longtime city residents and Mercury News veterans Robert Emil Bohn and Joan Jackson. Jackson was the Mercury’s first Garden Section editor.

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