More A’s stuff

Click here, for the story I wrote in today’s paper about the A’s.

The big change to the site plan is that the team now have 2,500 parking spaces east of Interstate 880, which means building an expensive pedestrian bridge over the highway.

Other stuff:
The team plans to change more for parking in lots that are closer to the stadium.
It also plans to offer benefits for public transit riders and carpoolers (more than four people in a car), such as coupons for concessions at the ball game.

The most surprising assumption to me was that 12.3 percent of fans would use mass transit in 2015 and 26.3 would use mass transit in 2030.  The team has said that about 18 percent of fans take public transit to the Coliseum, which will be a lot closer to BART than Cisco Field.

The traffic Management Plan includes:
Directing ballpark traffic to use three highway interchanges: I-880 at Stevenson, Auto Mall and Fremont Boulevard
Separating traffic flows in to and out of the ball park and maximizing the use of right-hand turns
Sign boards alerting fans which parking lots aren’t filled
Specially timed traffic lights along Auto Mall Parkway, Cushing Parkway and Boyce Road corridors, as well as at the freeway interchanges.


Fremont to join lawsuit against Measure 8

UPDATE: Fremont’s action has rattled the legal world. The state Supreme Court today agreed to take up the challenges to Prop. 8. They must have been watching online.It wasn’t unanimous, but Fremont is joining lawsuit seeking to invalidate Measure 8, which outlawed same sex marriage.
The City Council voted 4-1 to join a lawsuit filed by San Francisco and two other local governments. The city won’t have to spend any money to support the suit financially.

There are also three other lawsuits that argue that Prop 8 is invalid because it is really a revision, not an amendment to the state constitution, and thus first needed two-thirds support in the legislature.

Serveral people spoke in favor of Fremont joining SF’s lawsuit at tonight’s meeting.

In his second-to-last meeting, Counilmember Steve Cho found himself in the uncomfortable position of being the lone dissenter. He started out by noting that the council just about never takes sides on political matters outside city boundaries.

“Every time something like this comes about, the council takes the position that it is beyond the scope of the city,” he said. “What is the difference about this one?”

It was a softball that anyone could have hit out of the park, so up stepped the mayor.

“As I see it, the difference is depriving of rights and a depriving of rights of people who live in Fremont,” Mayor Wasserman said.

Cue the audience cheers.

Cho then intimated that the council was playing to the audience. “Tommorrow it could be a different group that advocates a different position,” he said.

That drew a rebuke from Councilmember Anu Natarajan, and a promise from Councilmember Bill Harrison, that the council won’t start passing resolutions to free Tibet or undergo any Berkleyzication (sp?). Never mind that the debate came after approval of a development that could bring a Berkeley Bowl-like supermarket to Fremont and before a green taskforce report.

Cho continued that he’s all for civil rights, but that he’s more of a traditionalist and that the definition of marriage to him means something other than a same sex couple.


Fremont releases NOP on A’s Project

The A’s and Fremont have just issued press releases announcing that the city has released the Notice of Preparation on the A’s Ballpark Village project.

That means there will be a public hearing on the updated plan from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Dec. 8 at City Hall.

A separate report to the City Council will be given on the 9th.

The info is on the city’s web site.  Or click here for the A’s report.


Washington Hospital helps bail out St. Rose Hospital

Looks like this won’t make it into print tomorrow, so I’ll give it a quick plug here:

Washington Hospital has approved a $1.5 million intergovernmental loan to help keep afloat St. Rose Hospital in Hayward.

St. Rose is apparently operating fine, but it is saddled with bad loans that it had to take out in 2005 when its patron Via Christi of Kansas decided it wanted to divest itself of the hospital.

That, combined with a state mandate to make the hospital seismically safe within 20 years, put the hospital at risk.

So, the county has cobbled together a package whereby they get some cash to the state, and the state matches it with federal money, which helps pay off the Via Christi loans and gives the hospital some more cash.

That, in turn, puts the hospital in a position to qualify for a long-term state loan on more favorable terms, which would provide St. Rose with the funds to do the required seismic work.

Washington Hospital is so far the only one to help out St. Rose, although others may as well, said Dave Kears, who has been putting together the bailout package for Alameda County. The Washington Hospital contribution appears to have solidified the deal, Kears said. “That was essential,” he said.


Newark Manager criticizes police/fire retirement benefit, Fremont manager silent

Tri-City area City Managers were asked last night about a pension benefit that allows police officers and firefighters to retire after 30 years of service and collect at least 90 percent of their final salary every year for the rest of their lives.

Newark’s John Becker didn’t hesitate to answer:

“That’s a huge problem,” he said of the pension benefit which is more generous than those allotted to any other type of public employee. But, he added, there isn’t much his city or others can do about it.

“Public safety unions exert a lot of influence,” he said. “They’re a very influential group at all levels of government.”

Union City Manager Larry Cheeves chimed in, “What John said is absolutely true.”

Fremont City Manager Fred Diaz didn’t say anything.

The forum, on the cities’ budget issues, was sponsored by the League of Women Voters and moderated by former Fremont Councilmember Dominic Dutra.

I give Dutra a lot credit for bringing the high cost of public safety employees into the discussion.

It’s rarely mentioned during debates about property tax hikes or burglar alarm response, but it’s hard to have the public safety staffing people want when you’re paying police and fire well more than double the national average.

With The Argus going through yet another round of layoffs, I’ve recently started looking at the The Career Handbook, 2008-09 Edition. According to the handbook, the median salary for police officers in 2006 was $47,460. For firefighters, it was $41,190.

For sworn officers who made at least $70,000 in base salary in 2006, the average salary (including overtime) was $124,226. For firefighters, not including the chief and division chief, it was $136,333.

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Mercury News story on stadium plans

To read the full Mercury News story on economic struggles for stadium plans in Fremont, San Jose and Santa Clara, click here.

The Fremont part is fairly similar to my story from this weekend.

The main difference is that Lew Wolff made it seem like it would just take too long to explain the complex method he had devised to finance stadium construction without building the housing units right away. He told the Merc, it would just be a combination of revenues stadium naming rights, parking and concessions, which, of course, wouldn’t start flowing until after the stadium was built.

From the Merc:

Fremont stadium

The same real estate challenges are dogging Wolff’s plans for a 32,000-seat A’s stadium off Interstate 880 in southern Fremont. The expected price tag for that facility is $400 million to $500 million, excluding land, and Wolff had hoped to pay for it by selling hundreds of apartments and townhouses in a Santana Row-like “village” nearby.

Instead, Wolff now says he’ll use money from naming rights — Cisco Systems will put its logo on the state-of-the-art facility for $4 million a year — as well as cash from parking fees and concessions to recoup his construction costs.

If he is forced to dip into those funding sources, which sports owners typically use to pay players and run the team, it could take longer for the A’s to afford to improve their roster. But in time, Wolff thinks, the economy will recover enough for him to develop the residential concept.


Measure B sneaks ahead

Good News for the Warm Springs BART extension. With 9,800 votes left to count, Santa Clara’s Measure B now has the two-thirds majority needed for passage. Or at least, so says my editor, who just talked to the Mercury News folks.

In Fremont, Trisha Tahmasbi is still in 4th place for city council, about 1,000 votes behind Bacon, Bacon, Bacon.