Santa Clara affordable housing could be nixed to attract Niners 

Subsidized homes planned for low-income families, seniors and people with disabilities would be sacrificed in Santa Clara to woo the 49ers away from San Francisco under a new proposal that will be discussed by the Santa Clara City Council tonight.

Officials with the team, which plays at Monster Park, announced in November 2006 that they wanted to relocate to Santa Clara — adjacent to Great America amusement park — saying that a proposed stadium at Candlestick Point came with parking and transportation problems. They have asked Santa Clara to pay $160 million toward the cost of a new $854 million stadium.

According to an updated finance report that will be presented to the Santa Clara City Council tonight, the city could raise as much as $66 million from bonds, leveraged against the value of a pair of properties, in addition to the $24 million it could earn by leasing city-owned land to help pay for the stadium. The city would still need to find $70 million for the stadium.

To raise $66 million in bonds, the city could reduce by around 13 percent the amount it raises from bonds to pay for affordable-housing projects, according to the report. Affordable housing, which ispriced below market rate, is defined as housing that costs a household less than 30 percent of its income, according to Santa Clara.

Opponents of the project seized on the report Monday, and put it to work in their efforts to build local opposition to the proposal.

"You’re diminishing the city’s opportunities for affordable housing," said Byron Fleck, a former Santa Clara planning commissioner who has organized community opposition to the plan, "and instead you’re going to subsidize a billionaire."

The average home price has doubled over the last decade to $685,000 in Santa Clara, where 30 percent of households earn less than $50,000 a year, according to real estate and census data.

Santa Clara officials aim for 30 percent of new homes in the city to be "affordable" — more than the 20 percent required by the state. The report proposes reducing that figure to 26 percent.

Cedar Fair, the company that owns the Great America amusement park, has opposed the plan, since the stadium would be built in the park’s main parking lot.

San Francisco has since proposed building a stadium at the site of the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. Team officials have expressed interest in the proposal, but say only as a backup plan.

jupton@examiner.com

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