49ers new soccer plan: Santa Clara mayor's latest proposal short-changes kids

San Jose Mercury News, April 17, 2015

49ers new soccer plan: Santa Clara mayor's latest proposal short-changes kids

By Tino Silva, Steve Robertson and Vicki Field
Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews is backing a plan that would jeopardize our city's world class youth soccer park to accommodate the 49ers' need for VIP stadium parking. It demonstrates how the 49ers their political muscle against the community and how political leaders accommodate them.
Matthews' proposal, introduced in this newspaper last week, places the needs of the NFL team high above those of the youth of Santa Clara. It would allow the team to shut down the soccer park during games days and special events this year, ruin our fields by parking cars on them and set a deadline of two years for the park to close entirely.
To understand why this is happening, some history is required.
The soccer park, built in 2005, is one of Northern California's premier facilities. More than 2,500 youth of all levels use the three fields, with teams visiting from throughout the Western region, particularly on weekends.

In 2010, during the stadium campaign, the 49ers promised to be a good neighbor. Most of us supported  the campaign, believing in the stadium's potential and the team's promises.

In a letter dated Jan. 10, 2012, 49ers CEO Jed York agreed the soccer park should remain in it's current location but acknowledged the difficulty of operating on football game days. "To demonstrate our commitment to our community's young soccer players and their families," York wrote, "we are proposing that the 49ers underwrite several regulation-sized additional soccer fields in Santa Clara. These additional fields would be dedicated and maintained for the use of the Santa Clara Youth Soccer League during NFL game days."
But York reneged on that commitment. In fact, team officials said last month they plan to park not just in our lot but on our fields. Of course, they won't park cars on their own practice fields just one block away.
Further, the soccer facility would close for both NFL games and special events, approximately 40 weekends a year, destroying our season.
We said no.

Now, the 49ers are using their political relationships to push through the newest proposal. Last year,contributed substantially to the elections of Matthews and Councilmen Dominic Caserta and Pat Kolstad.  None of these officials has called for the 49ers to keep their commitment to youth soccer.

In Matthews' plan, in exchange for destroying the soccer park, the 49ers would pay the Santa Clara Unified School District $3 million to build soccer fields on school sites, putting youth soccer in competition with school activities. The team would pre-pay $15 million in "rent" for a facility that would cost an estimated $50-60 million to replace or relocate -- if land is available.
Matthews does not say who will pay the difference or propose any sites. If none can be found, the soccer park would cease to exist, and school fields would be inundated.
The community feels pressure to find solutions. Proposals have surfaced to build soccer fields in the Ulistac Natural Area, eliminating open space, or in Central Park, threatening softball facilities. These options unnecessarily pit community groups against each other.
We cannot count on the 49ers to do the right thing. Nor can we rely on elected officials influenced by&nbscampaign contributions.
So we've started a coalition called Stand Up for Santa Clara  (www.standupforsantaclara.com). Together we can hold the 49ers accountable for actions and promises, whether at council meetings or on the ballot with a referendum or initiative.
Tino Silva is president of the Santa Clara Youth Soccer League, Steve Robertson is vice president and 
Vicki Field is a Santa Clara community leader. They wrote this for this newspaper.

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  • I agree with this article, it is excellent. However, the plot is much thicker and threatens more than just soccer fields. Please read the below details for a more thorough analysis:

    Why is the City of Santa Clara planning to destroy our parks and school fields?

    1) The Santa Clara City Council built the Levi’s stadium without first planning for adequate parking. They built a 14 acre stadium on a 17 acre site. On event days, transportation engineers determined that the public requires 41,373 parking spaces within 20 minutes of the stadium. But, sufficient parking lots were not built. The city assumed “It is reasonable to assume that on a yearly basis, the team could secure agreements for the required parking from the total supply available.”
    (As events have proven, this WAS NOT a reasonable assumption.)

    Source: Page 61 of the Final Environmental Impact Report for the stadium:

    2) The Santa Clara City Council, on March 15, 2012, promised parking rights (to “StadCo”, the 49ers Stadium Company) to two vacant lots on Tasman Drive across the street from the stadium. (Tasman lot APN 104-03-038 (3.3 acres) and Tasman lot APN 104-03-039 (4.7 acres))
    This Parking Rights Agreement was the ultimate sweet deal for the 49ers. They get to park on these 8 acres for FREE during 49er event days. And : “The City will also receive $5 per parking space used on the the Tasman Drive surface lots for Non-NFL Events.”
    Why did the City make this terrible deal? It was certainly not in the best interest for city taxpayers…

    Source: Pages 1 and 2 of the Parking Rights Agreement

    3) The Santa Clara City Council, on June 26, 2012, voted to approve “Centennial Gateway”, a massive development spearheaded by former 49er star Joe Montana. The development included these same two lots on Tasman. So, the Santa Clara City Council DOUBLE PROMISED these two lots. This fact was known. The below agreement even says “The Developer acknowledges that the Properties are encumbered by Parking Agreements”.

    Source: Page 7 of Exclusive Negotiation Agreement with Montana Property Group LLC for the Development of Two City Owned Parcels on Tasman Drive

    4) The Santa Clara City Council, on September 17, 2013, in a Work Study Session, announced it’s intentions to move the Youth Soccer Park to an alternate location. This was an obscure meeting, meant to be under the public’s radar (not a formal widely attended City Council Meeting, during standard work hours, not videotaped, announced just 48 hours before (the minimum required by CA state law)). On page 68 of the hand outs, the city recommended moving the Youth Soccer Park to Ulistac Natural Area, at a taxpayer cost of $9,850,000. See the below:

    5)The Santa Clara City Council, in late September of 2013, as part of a massive public & media firestorm was heavily criticized for threatening to destroy Ulistac Natural Area. The nail in the coffin for the city’s plans was a letter from Andrea Mackenzie, the General Manager of the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, reminding the City of Santa Clara that it had accepted two grants ($176K in 1999 and $281K in 2004) after promising to preserve Ulistac Natural Area as “open space”, in “perpetuity”. The letter adds that the Authority does not consider a Youth Soccer Complex as consistent with their definition of open space. Source:

    6) The Santa Clara City Council, on June 10, 2014, discussed a study which they commissioned after being heavily criticized for not collecting enough taxes from developers to fund parks and open space. This study, “New Housing Development Impact Nexus study”, showed clearly that Santa Clara needs more park land and doesn’t collect nearly enough money for parks as compared with neighboring cities. For example, in 2013, development fees collected for Cupertino: $2,484,000, Sunnyvale: $3,330,249, San Jose: $24,100,000, Santa Clara: $895 (This is not a typo, it shows that Santa Clara has been offering sweet deals to developers). Here is a key quote: “…the City of Santa Clara ranks lowest in level of service standards at 2.4 park acres per 1000 residents, compared to neighboring cities which provide between 3.0 up to 5 acres per 1000 residents”
    Source: Pages 9 & 10 of:

    7) The Santa Clara City Council directed the Parks & Recreation Commission on July 15, 2014, to do the exact opposite of what the Nexus Study recommended. Instead of increasing park land acres per 1,000 residents, the Parks & Recreation Dept. decided to continue pursuing consuming park land to resolve the stadium parking situation. Here is a quote: “The Commission discussed the next step in the process to develop three additional soccer fields to meet the demands for fields and mitigate Stadium game day access impacts to Youth Soccer Park (YSP); the fields are additional to, not a replacement of YSP. A consultant will be selected to do the community outreach, design, and engineering. Kings Academy has been secured for immediate use.”
    Source: Section IV a of: