Saturday, May 18, 2013
Two p's please. And thanks.
And I think you're muddling my interest here - I'm not anti-arena, nor have I stated that I'm pro-streetcar. I just want to see the conversation acknowledge and consider alternatives. If the end result is that the arena seems like both a good idea and the best idea, then let's go for it. But I don't see the City Council looking at a list of alternatives and comparing them at all - it's presented as arena or gloom and doom.
When you see something you like, do you jump and buy it or do you consider whether you can afford it and what else you might do with the money? I'd just like the City Council to consider spending $250m in the same way that you or I might consider spending $250.
Most of the revenue being earmarked for this is still based on the current $9m/year that parking already generates. Some of that comes from night-time parking, which is relatively modest downtown but which is charged for in garages (although not on the street, as has been detailed in multiple SacPress comments threads). If an arena could generate enough ticket and parking revenue by itself to cover costs, you'd have a line of developers wrapped around City Hall begging to be allowed to build such a structure and willing to pay for the whole thing themselves.
Part of the historic reason that Saramento has been a second-tier city for conventions and meeting business is that the Convention Center capacity was larger than the adjacent hotel capacity. This improved with the building of the Sheraton and more recently The Citizen, and the nearby hotels (primarily those two and the Hyatt, work well together as a team to accommodate groups. But we're still not a city that can easily accommodate thousands of overnight attendees - which is why you see a lot of drive-in events at the Convention Center and Cal Expo, such as home shows, gun shows, doll shows, etc. rather than conventions of 5,000 people that routinely descend upon other cities.
Bill, Do you know anything about streetcars in Phoenix? I'm just asking because I happened to visit Phoenix a few years ago while they were being installed.
What's stopping other projects is that they don't reach the point of serious consideration because the arena conversation sucks all the air out of the room. For $250m in matching funds and land gifts, we could potentially have something completely different like a Toyota or BMW factory - like multiple other states have done. I'm not saying that's the best use of such funding, but the fact that it's probably not an idea anybody reading this has given much thought to is an outcome of the fact that we're not considering other ideas, even those that have been done successfully elsewhere.
Parking revenue already exists and is a substantial contributor to the City budget. And it's not a "GENIUS" idea to tie up that revenue stream for far longer than the life of a building in order to pay for that building.
The funny thing is that my "challenge" also started as a comment somewhere else and then seemed to make more sense in its own place.
Not a done deal yet.
I have no idea - but the Eiffel Tower was never intended to last - it was a demonstration piece for a World's Fair. I was simply amused by the coincidence that it had a 20 year life expectancy and minority public funding. But, hey, you brought it up.
It certainly might. But nobody actually seems to be considering the existence of alternatives. It's like somebody who goes and buys a new car and then realizes they have no money left for food or rent. How would you relate to a friend or family member who bought things without ever considering what else they might do with the money?
"If the arena isn't built, we'll lose the Kings, and the local economy will continue to sputter along, and downtown will play out it's long, drawn out death scene."
Perhaps not if the City took the same $250m or even a fraction of it and did something else with it instead. That's a lot of development seed money for small businesses, for example.
Ten minutes later and only one thumbs down. People must be busy.
Let's assume for a moment that all you say is an accurate representation of what will happen. What do we do to address that problem that whatever benefit (assuming a benefit) comes Downtown's way is lost to Natomas, also part of the City? If restaurants and hotels benefit downtown, do restaurants and hotels in Natomas go out of business and stop generating sales and occupancy taxes? Do property values in Natomas drop, where new housing developments were touted as being within walking distance of the existing arena and where businesses developed around pre-existing arena traffic, yielding lower property taxes?
I think you're very effectively demonstrating the nature and extent of the problems rather than diminishing them.
I was talking about the downside of a 35 year payment plan on a 20-25 year building. And what you describe as the leftover payments on the existing arena demonstrate the danger in this. If at the point of new construction you're still trying to figure out a way of paying for the old construction, and the new payment plan does the same thing, you slowly get further and further behind. You're talking about (possibly) rolling in 4-5 years of old payments. Next time around there would be 10-15 years of old payments outstanding with that revenue stream (from parking, assuming the math is even accurate which seems highly doubtful) already tied up. What happens the next time after that...?
And the SF parking example is also worrying. Higher metered parking rates on game days mean that people have to know the event calendar in advance (and, remember, many people aren't remotely interested in the team or concert schedule) or will avoid the area on busy days - or, worse still, will simply avoid the area for fear of it being busy. Bars and restaurants will benefit on event occasions but I wouldn't want to be operating any other kind of unrelated business downtown on days when my customer base has to fight for and pay extra for parking, if it can even be found.
This isn't unique to areas like this, you also see it for other kinds of special events. Last summer, London hosted the Olympics and many people would assume that was an economic boon for the City. Yet business owners, attraction operators, and folks like cab drivers consistently reported it to be the slowest summer in memory. And airlines were having some of the most extreme mid-summer sales on tickets to London that I've ever seen (and I used to be a travel agent) with fares that were closer to winter rates and even business class tickets for what would normally be a summer economy class rate. Regular visitors stayed away.
If you're not motivated by the event itself, it's an inconvenience to be avoided. And behavior doesn't just shift to other days. If you skip Downtown on a day you might otherwise have visited and find somewhere else to eat or shop, you might establish a new habit. And you can't assume that the game day eaters and shoppers are going to visit on occasions when they're not motivated by a game.
And, as Bill said, if you see your high rise parking garage building boom (and you can be sure that a private developer won't build a 20 year building on a 35 year payment plan!) then you impact the City's projections for the amount of City parking being used to help make the payments - so the new parking garages would need the same type of game day surcharges. And then they would sit relatively empty the rest of the time, blocking the development of what Downtown Sacramento most desperately needs for long time economic sustainability, which is more residents eating, drinking, shopping near their homes all the time.
It's functionally free for the people parking there - at least after 6pm and on Sundays. It's hard to imagine that not changing and you'll see plenty of people lamenting the loss of that opportunity. Meanwhile, the arena will draw a crowd (or relocate a crowd that previously already existed in Natomas) on very specific game and event days/nights. The metered parking would be there all the time (it's hard to set meters or have users understand different rates based on an event calendar). And if you have a game night surcharge on City and private garages,what of the people who wanted to go Downtown to do something else? Many people would simply avoid Downtown on those occasions and many others would be less inclined to go Downtown on an average evening than they are inclined to do so now (and people already complain that there are too few with such an inclination) because of the evening metered parking or the fear of encountering an event on a calendar they don't check.
If you don't pay at the point of use, or based on the amount of use, you tend to perceive something to be free - we tend to feel that way about public roads. Imagine what would happen if all the roads in and out of town became toll roads on game days.
Your intended point was clear. You just happened to pick bad examples for the point you wanted to make. The other interesting aspect of both of those sites is that what was built was the result of design competitions - so there was much more creative input into both projects.
Julian - you're right, it just shifts spending from area of the City to another, benefiting Downtown at the expense of Natomas. Nobody seems overly concerned about hotels and restaurants, or homeowners, who located in Natomas to be close to the arena. Or that the traffic flow there already accommodates those kinds of crowds.
It's also why losing the team doesn't represent the kind of economic catastrophe being talked about as that same spending would just shift somewhere else in the local economy - unless you believe that every ticket and concession dollar being spent now would suddenly get taken out of town or dropped into a savings account. Most people would just see more movies, eat out more, or otherwise spend that same portion of their disposable income elsewhere around town. But it would be hard to track spending and even job creation as it was filtered across many establishments and retailers - you'd lose what appears to be a flagship location for such economic activity in favor of a flotilla of smaller locations.
I've also lived in many places, both in this country (Primarily the East Coast prior to moving to California) and in the UK. And with the possible exception of enormous cities, such as London and new York, I've never spent significant time anywhere where fewer people seemed to want to leave.
The Eiffel Tower is a very interesting comparison. It only carried approx. 25% of public funding and was designed to pay for itself within a 20 year time frame, which was the expected life of the structure - indeed the original plan was to dismantle it after 20 years. Now that's a plan we could probably all get behind.
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