Council: Parking lease issue won’t reach June ballot
The push to put a city parking lease to a vote fell flat Tuesday as the City Council rejected a motion to put the question on the June ballot.
It was City Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy who first suggested in November that the voters should have a say in whether the city leases its parking inventory to an outside company.
She conducted a city-wide poll on her website in October, which indicated that
70 percent of respondents favored a public vote on a potential 50-year lease, according to Sheedy.
“The (arena) plan hinges on leasing the city’s parking for 50 years,” Sheedy said Tuesday. “I think such a massive public investment warrants a public vote.”
Still, after almost an hour of public discussion, the council voted 5-4 Tuesday not to place the issue on the ballot.
Sheedy and Council members Kevin McCarty, Darrell Fong and Bonnie Pannell voted in favor of the measure.
Council members Angelique Ashby, Steve Cohn, Rob Fong and Jay Schenirer and Mayor Kevin Johnson voted against it.
The City Council is pursuing the possibility of leasing the city’s parking assets as part of a financing plan for a new entertainment and sports complex.
Opponents of a public vote on the issue said a ballot measure would occur after the March 1 deadline for the city to have a solid arena plan – without one, Sacramento Kings’ owners have threatened to relocate the team.
“We owe the NBA an answer by March. The election is in June. In the effort of being timely, I don’t think we should send it to ballot,” Ashby said.
Another point of opposition was the message a possible vote would send to the 13 companies that have expressed interest in leasing the city’s parking inventory.
“If the leasing of parking assets is put on the ballot it would send a signal to the NBA, AEG, and to the business community across the country that this council is indecisive and it would sabotage efforts to this point,” said Sacramento resident James Battle during public comment.
“It’s impossible to separate this issue from the impact of the vote,” City Councilman Steve Cohn said. “Let’s be clear: it would kill the arena deal in its tracks. If that’s what you want to do, then vote for it.”
Johnson said the list of 13 interested lessees would be reviewed and narrowed down to three or four before a financing agreement would be created.
“The goal is to have that term sheet in place before the March 1 deadline,” Johnson said at his weekly press conference Tuesday.
“We are doing all we can to make that happen,” he said.
Melissa Corker is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCorker.