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February 11, 2005
NAC input important in the City's planning???
Neighbors take swing at stadium plan
By Barry Witt and Janice Rombeck
But whether the plan for a park makes any sense -- particularly in light of the speculative nature of ever securing a team -- has never been the subject of public discussion.
That's got some community leaders, who for years thought they were going to be included in deciding what went into their neighborhood, more than a little perturbed.
``It's a condescending, patronizing way of doing business,'' said Randi Kinman, president of the Burbank/Del Monte Neighborhood Advisory Committee, home to the former Del Monte Cannery on Auzerais Avenue, which city officials are eyeing for a ballpark.
In his State of the City speech Wednesday night, Gonzales promised he would ``submit a proposal to Major League Baseball to bring a team to San Jose.'' City officials expect that the Oakland A's will fail to reach a deal to build a new ballpark in Oakland and will want to look to the South Bay again.
The mayor's speech follows a closed-door meeting in December at which the city council authorized negotiators to attempt to acquire the option on the cannery now held by KB Home, which is pursuing a 385-home development on an 11.1-acre portion of the land.
For at least five years, the city has been planning for a housing development at the cannery site, with community leaders participating in dozens of planning meetings on the future of the property and surrounding area. Those leaders were shocked to learn in December that the council suddenly had decided it wanted to buy the land for a ballpark.
Kinman complained in a letter to Gonzales on Dec. 15 about his failure to contact any neighborhood leaders concerning the change in plans. As of Thursday, nearly two months later, Kinman said she still had not received a response. The mayor's office on Wednesday released a response to the Mercury News that was dated Tuesday, saying the delay was caused by ``an internal mix-up in our office.''
The mayor's letter made no specific commitment to including community input prior to the city making a final decision to acquire the cannery. This week, city administrators made their first appearance at a neighborhood meeting concerning the property, saying no decision had been made on whether a ballpark would be pursued there.
Activists were dissatisfied with what they heard.
``Wnen you start negotiating behind closed doors for a site, it's way beyond when neighborhoods should be involved, even when you tell us it's one of many sites,'' Ed Rast, a Willow Glen neighborhood leader, told Redevelopment Agency Director Harry Mavrogenes and Economic Development Director Paul Krutko at a meeting Wednesday night.
City officials say there's no guarantee San Jose will be able to strike a deal with KB Home to acquire the option. The two sides are discussing a possible swap of the cannery property for other property the city owns along North San Pedro Street.
Councilman Ken Yeager, who represents the district that includes the cannery, supports housing on the cannery site and believes it won't work for baseball because it's too far from downtown to be convenient for pedestrians.
``To me, the Del Monte site has never made any sense,'' Yeager said.
What also has been missing from the public discourse is whether the city ought to spend resources -- be it cash or a land swap -- to preserve a site for a ballpark when Major League Baseball officials say they will not allow the city to get a team while the Giants are in San Francisco.
While Gonzales on Wednesday night argued San Jose's status as the nation's soon-to-be 10th-largest city merited it getting a team, Bob DuPuy, baseball's president and chief operating officer, dismissed the idea Thursday at a luncheon in San Francisco.
``We have a major league team in San Francisco, we have a major league team in Oakland and we intend to keep it that way,'' DuPuy said. Baseball has granted the Giants territorial rights to Santa Clara County, and the Giants said they won't allow a team to move to the county.
In a recent interview, Gonzales compared San Jose's speculative pursuit of baseball to the decision by city voters in 1988 to build an arena, two years before a National Hockey League team agreed to move there.
Posted by Coalition Webbies at February 11, 2005 03:11 PM