The Silicon Valley Voice

Power To Your Voice

Stadium Spending Chafes Mayor and Cohort, Council Approves Anyway

Mayor Lisa Gillmor isn’t happy. She isn’t happy that the City has received no performance rent from the stadium for seven years. She isn’t happy with the restructuring the Forty-Niners Management Company (ManCo) has done. She isn’t happy with what she sees as a lack of transparency from the stadium manager. But, most recently, she isn’t happy with the budget that reflects all these things.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, Gillmor aired her grievances against ManCo, voting “no” on the budget submitted to the Stadium Authority Board. Although Levi’s Stadium is projected to generate almost $12 million from non-NFL events over the next two years, Gillmor still took issue with the budget.

“I am not comfortable with this budget at all, because it increases the number of personnel. Everything is increasing when we are expecting less revenue,” she said.


The $81.3 million budget sees the City reducing its debt on the stadium by $16.1 million with another $20.5 million earmarked for capital projects. The most recent payment has the stadium’s debt nearly two-thirds paid.

Despite Levi’s Stadium hosting concerts and generating more than $7 million, only $729,000 will flow into City coffers.

Kenn Lee, the City’s finance director, said the budget earmarks more than $3 million for lawsuits between the City and the team regarding public safety costs and a dispute over buffet costs. After debt payments, Lee said, the $64.9 million in revenue went toward shoring up various reserves, as is required by the contract.

Gillmor laid most of the blame for the stadium’s lackluster performance over the past few years and the addition of new employees in this year’s budget at ManCo’s feet. Its recent restructuring came at the eleventh hour and leaves her feeling the budget will need amending, she said.

“ManCo has restructured. There is no stadium manager. He was let go,” she said. “There are other things that are happening that have a real effect on this budget, and they should have been forthcoming in what they were doing since they already completed their restructuring.”

She also pointed the finger at her fellow council members for settling with ManCo but failing to resolve the outstanding litigation.

Still, Council Member Anthony Becker punched back, saying Gillmor and her now-defunct majority reigned when the stadium’s poor performance began. The Council majority is now trying to dig out the City from that situation. Gillmor is pushing a narrative that “the sky is falling,” which is not conducive to having the stadium make money, he added.

“Yeah, there [are] problems. When we went to the moon, there [were] problems. When we built the Golden Gate Bridge there [were] problems,” he said.

Council Member Kathy Watanabe joined Gillmor in dissent of approving the budget. Lee said the Council will have until March 17 to amend the budget if needed.

City Manager Regains Power to Enter Into Contracts

Gillmor and Watanabe also gave the thumbs down to reinstating the city manager’s ability to execute contracts for Levi’s Stadium. Before the Council fired former City Manager Deanna Santana, it had previously revoked her authority to approve spending at the stadium.

The city manager, acting as the Stadium Authority executive director, will again have the ability to approve spending up to $100,000, including shared expenses, which the Stadium Authority shares with ManCo.

Gillmor said she believes having all spending come before the Board fosters transparency, and thus rejected empowering the city manager to again make such decisions. The motion still passed 5-2.

City-Owned Home Declared Surplus

The Council also approved declaring a single-family home owned by the City as surplus land. Santa Clara purchased the now unoccupied 1,140 square-foot home located at 2319 Gianera St., for $155,000 in 1983. Previously used as below-market housing, it has been vacant for roughly a decade.

Manuel Pineda, assistant city manager, said the City has no plans for the property and does not anticipate a use for it. The City will publish a notice of availability and must refrain from disposing of it for two months. If the City receives an offer within those two months, it must enter into three months of “good faith negotiations.”

The Surplus Land Act aims to allow below-market developers to build homes for the poor.

Council Member Raj Chahal said he would like to see the land converted to a park or community garden instead of being declared surplus, where it will be prioritized as housing. Park too said he would like to see the property used for something else.

Park, who visited the property, said he saw evidence that someone inhabited the home in the decade since Santa Clara made use of it, adding that he would like to know more about the property before rushing into selling it.

“I don’t like selling a property or getting rid of a property without knowing more about it,” he said. “I worry about losing information by conveniently washing our hands of a strange deal. This is like another Loyalton (Ranch) for me.”

Still, the Council approved declaring the property surplus in a 5-2 vote, with Chahal and Park voting “no.”

Consent Calendar Spending

  • A $500,000, five-year contract with Energy and Environmental Economics, Inc. for an integrated resource plan and related services for Silicon Valley Power.
  • A $455,508, five-year contract with GFI Entertainment for concert production and stage management for city special events.
  • A $370,371 contract with Raimi & Associates to revise the El Camino Specific Plan.
  • $266,000 to the Bill Wilson Center to repair an elevator subject to the availability of Community Development Block Grant money.
  • A $50,000 increase to a contract with Mintier Harnish for zoning code update work; total contract: $373,690.
  • A $75,000, three-year contract with Global Water Technology, Inc. for water treatment at Levi’s Stadium.
  • An $85,000 contract with Advanced IPM for pest control at Levi’s Stadium with an option for two one-year extensions at $82,500 per year for a total contract amount of $250,000.

The next regularly scheduled meeting is Tuesday, March 21 in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1500 Warburton Ave. in Santa Clara.

Members of the public can participate in the Santa Clara City Council meetings on Zoom at; Meeting ID: 997-0675-9306 or call 1(669) 900-6833, via the City’s eComment (available during the meeting) or by email to


  1. Buchser Alum 1 year ago

    The election for mayor is over and Gillmor won and is going to be termed out after this term. I do not understand why you would continue to frame these issues in terms of what Gillmor’s reaction is.
    There is a council majority that is in control and she is not part of it. And this council majority has been the majority for two years now.
    Silicon Valley Voice’s bogeywoman is a lame duck mayor now. As a Santa Claran who cares about local issues and turns to Silicon Valley Voice as a source of local Santa Clara news, I wish that you would do more straight reportage and stop covering city council meetings and decisions through the lens of political rivalries as much as you do.

  2. David Baldwin 1 year ago

    When reading the news story above my thoughts went down the same path as Buchser Alum’s. More straight reporting and less partisan coverage would be appreciated.

    On a separate issue, I agree with Council Member Park’s comment that more information is needed on the property at 2319 Gianera St. While the purchase may have been done in the best interest of the city, it seems strange enough to warrant investigating.

    Why has the house been vacant for many years? Was the house purchased in 1983 as part of a larger, now defunct city program to address homelessness, and if so, were there lessons-learned for current housing initiatives? If it was a one-off purchase, why was it made, who was behind it, and who benefited from it?

    The history of the purchase might be a good subject for a follow-up story.

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