Council Rejects Santa Clara 49er Petitition

Issue of second vote on stadium takes a legal turn.

Wednesday, Jan 25, 2012  |  Updated 12:09 PM PDT
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The proposed 49ers stadium in Santa Clara.

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The Santa Clara City Council on Tuesday night rejected a petition to place the San Francisco 49ers stadium project before voters a second time.

The council voted 5-2 to reject the Registrar of Voters' certification of a referendum repealing the disposition and development  agreement approved in December. The DDA is a legal contract between the Santa Clara Stadium Authority and the 49ers Stadium Company, or Stadco, that  outlines the responsibility of the parties involved, in addition to finances.

Santa Clara Plays Fair, a group opposing the stadium project, led  a campaign to collect more than 5,000 valid signatures to put the project  back on the ballot.

The council could have agreed to accept the referendum and submit  the project to an election in June or November at a cost of $2.9 million to  $3.9 million. Instead, they went with City Attorney Richard Nosky's  recommendation to reject the referendum because it failed to meet the  requirements of California election law.

The council also authorized Nosky to file legal action in court.

"We have a referendum that started with misinformation," said  Councilwoman Lisa Gillmor.

The main point of contention between the project's opponents and supporters is the financing plan for the $1 billion stadium.

More than 60 people addressed the council, with supporters encouraging the council to move forward with the project and touting its  benefit to the local economy and opponents arguing that the $850 million bank  loan for the stadium would burden the residents and bankrupt the city.

"The people of Santa Clara were deceived," said one resident. "The city is being ripped off, that's why people showed up and signed the petition. We were not shown the true costs."

City Manager Jennifer Sparacino assured that the city's general fund would not be impacted and that the majority of the loan would be repaid with revenues from the stadium.

"Over 14,000 voters in Santa Clara have already spoken on this issue," said Councilman Pat Kolstad, referring to Measure J, approved by 58 percent of Santa Clara voters in June 2010. "We have to respect what the  voters told us to do."

Councilmembers Will Kennedy and Jamie McLeod dissented. "Let's get  this second vote done than have litigation," Kennedy said.

This spring, the council is expected to consider the final finance plan, development budget, and stadium lease.

Construction of the 68,000-seat stadium next to the Great America theme park is set to begin this year.

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