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Decision-Day for the San Jose Earthquakes new stadium proposal as Planning Commission decides fate of planned development permit

From a public hearing meeting in September 2011, a possible design for the San Jose Earthquakes proposed new stadium.
From a public hearing meeting in September 2011, a possible design for the San Jose Earthquakes proposed new stadium.

Arguably the most important day in the short five year history of the relaunched San Jose Earthquakes organization has arrived, as the City of San Jose Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on whether or not to proceed with granting the planned development land-use permit agreed upon back in December 2011. An appeal filed by the Newhall Neighborhood Association — a group of nearby homeowners to the stadium site — that claims noise and light pollution restrictions are not worded strongly enough in the current version of the permit has delayed the Earthquakes project, but that hurdle can be removed tonight with a favorable decision by the Planning Commission.

The reasons for and against the appeal are clearly spelled out, and so the decision comes down to whether the commission panel judges that the Earthquakes organization has done enough to minimize the impact the proposed new stadium will have on the local neighborhoods. Recently completed independent assessments of the noise and light pollution from the stadium design set forth by the Earthquakes would actually be lower than originally predicted from early reports. Claims that the Earthquakes are not acting in good faith with local neighborhood leaders also ring false, as the organization has voluntarily dropped the hosting of such money generating events such as musical concerts from the list of allowable activities at the new stadium. Earthquakes president David Kaval has made it clear that the team has respected the planning process from day one, and will continue to make community input a part of the process moving forward.

In documents released early last week, the staff of the Planning Commission came out unequivocally in favor of denying the Newhall appeal and allowing the Earthquakes permit to stand as agreed.

1. The Planned Development Permit, as issued, conforms in all aspects to the Planned Development Zoning (File No. PDC09-004) of the property in that, the proposed project conforms to the approved General Development Plan.

2. The proposed project conforms in all aspects to the provisions of Title 20 of the San Jose Municipal Code.

3. No new information has been substantiated that would contradict the analysis provided in the Project Environmental Impact Report, "FMC?Coleman Avenue Planned Development Rezoning (File No. PDC98-104)" or the finding previously made by the Planning Director in the Planned Development Permit (File no. PD11-002).

If tonight’s decision, which is being broadcast live on the City of San Jose’s website, goes in favor of the Earthquakes, expect the organization to quickly spell out a timetable for the project. Architectural plans, financing plans, and the completion of the land purchase are all activities that will begin in earnest as the Earthquakes will make every attempt to break ground on the stadium this summer and have it ready for play in 2013.

For more stories on tonight's Planning Commission hearing, follow the links below:

A look at the official agenda for tonight's Planning Commission meeting and also the complete set of documents related to the appeal. The Earthquakes hearing is scheduled as the sixth item on the agenda.

Earthquakes president David Kaval calls tonight's meeting a chance for all supporters of local soccer to "make history together." says tonight's decision is more important to the Earthquakes than any result they've had on the field in their four years back in the league.

The San Jose Mercury News breaks down most of the timeline that has led to tonight's critical decision by the Planning Commission.

Writer Gary Singh checks in with a look at the process and what a new stadium would mean for San Jose is his Metro Newspaper column.

Soccer Silicon Valley spells out some of the details for tonight's meeting, including some useful information on parking validation.