SAN FRANCISCO -- The coalition group "Stand for San Jose," which is opposed to the Oakland Athletics moving to the South Bay and is supported by the Giants, filed a lawsuit Friday against the city of San Jose claiming the failure to perform a proper environmental review of land committed to the A's.
The 28-page suit, filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court, also claims the city violated citizens' rights by not putting to a public vote the contractual agreement it made with the A's to sell the discounted downtown property where owner Lew Wolff hopes to build a new ballpark. He is still waiting to hear from Commissioner Bud Selig about whether the club can relocate into San Francisco's territory.
Last month, the San Jose City Council agreed to sell nearly five acres at a huge discount to the A's as long as it is used to build a ballpark.
There was a 30-day window from Nov. 8, when the sides reached agreement on a two-year land-purchase option that costs the A's $50,000, for potential lawsuits to be filed.
"In the midst of its 11th consecutive budget deficit, San Jose politicians rushed to sell prime downtown land for only $6.9 million, even though it was acquired for $25 million and is currently appraised at approximately $14 million," Stand for San Jose said in a statement. "This huge discount for wealthy developers who want to build a baseball stadium comes at a time of fiscal challenges so severe that the Mayor recently admitted:
A phone message and email to San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed weren't immediately returned. A message also was left for Wolff.
The lawsuit claims that though several environmental reports have been done, the studies on issues such as traffic and air quality are insufficient relating to the California Environmental Quality Act and additional studies are needed.
Also, Stand for San Jose challenges that a public vote should have happened before the city decided to enter into a binding agreement with Wolff and the A's for land committed to be used for a ballpark or stadium.
It reads that the city and its agencies "abused their powers and ran roughshod over their legal duties, including their duties to protect the public's right to vote and to comply with laws designed to protect the environment, prior to committing to sell public lands for a ballpark project."
Selig in March 2009 appointed a committee to evaluate the issue facing the Bay Area teams, yet he has provided no timetable for when he might announce a decision. Wolff has said he hopes to hear a resolution one way or the other soon. Moving to San Jose, he has said, would help the low-budget A's generate revenue and become a bigger spender.
The Giants have a significant fan base in technology-rich Silicon Valley in Santa Clara County, and they don't want to give that up.
Wolff, a friend of Selig's dating to their days as fraternity brothers at Wisconsin, is ready to break ground on an intimate ballpark projected to cost between $400 million and $450 million -- if and when he gets the OK to relocate some 40 miles south.