Santa Clara lead­ers re­main flum­moxed by cur­few breach

Cold­play’s vi­o­la­tion leaves city wor­ried about fu­ture en­force­ment of time limit

The Mercury News Weekend - - LOCAL NEWS - By Ra­mona Gi­war­gis and JimHar­ring­ton Staff Writers

SANTA CLARA » Af­ter Bri­tish pop band Cold­play rocked about an hour past Levi’s Sta­dium’s 10 p.m. week­night cur­few, it was un­clear Thurs­day morn­ing what if any­thing the city will do about the oft-vi­o­lated time limit meant to keep peace with the $1.3 bil­lion venue’s neigh­bors.

Santa Clara re­ceived six com­plaints about the noise Wed­nes­day night, ac­cord­ing to spokes­woman Jen­nifer Ya­m­aguma. And the San Fran­cisco 49ers, who man­age Levi’s, could face a city fine up to $1,000 for the cur­few vi­o­la­tion—

an amoun­tMayor Lisa Gill­mor con­sid­ers too small to be a se­ri­ous de­ter­rent.

But amid di­vi­sions on the seven-mem­ber City Coun­cil, there­was no con­sen­sus how the city will deal with the cur­few promised when vot­ers ap­proved the sta­di­u­min 2010. The cur­few has been re­peat­edly vi­o­lated, and the 49ers say it is de­priv­ing the sta­dium and city of po­ten­tial rev­enue from per­form­ers who won’t play Santa Clara if they have to wrap up so early.

Gill­mor, who has threat­ened to in­crease cur­few vi­o­la­tion fines and crit­i­cized the 49ers’ sta­dium man­age­ment, said Thurs­day the city will ex­plore a “va­ri­ety of op­tions” to en­sure the team com­plies with the cur­few, but de­clined to elab­o­rate.

A fine in­crease wouldn’t ap­ply retroac­tively to the Cold­play con­cert and top Nin­ers of­fi­cials have said they won’t book any more week­night concerts at Levi’s.

“It’s clear that they’re ig­nor­ing the law. So we need to come up with a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to pro­tect the neigh­bor­hoods,” Gill­mor said. “Will­ful vi­o­la­tion of the cur­few or city laws raises se­ri­ous is­sues about their man­age­ment of the sta­dium.”

Vice Mayor Do­minic Caserta how­ever blamed the on­go­ing cur­few feud on what he called Gill­mor’s “po­lit­i­cal vendetta” against the 49ers. Gill­mor, ap­point­ed­mayor in Feb. 2016, has sparred with the team over ev­ery­thing from a sta­di­um­rent ad­just­ment to al­low­ing the use of a neigh­bor­ing soc­cer com­plex for park­ing.

“This is sim­ply our ap­pointed mayor drum­ming up a po­lit­i­cal vendetta about a soc­cer park is­sue that was re­solved months ago,” Caserta said. “It’s about em­bar­rass­ing a busi- ness part­ner that we have a re­la­tion­ship with for the next 37 years, all be­cause the ap­pointed mayor feels slighted.”

Gill­mor has said res­i­dents were promised week­night concerts would end at 10 p. m. af­ter they ap­proved Mea­sure J, a 2010 bal­lot mea­sure that au­tho­rized build­ing Levi’s Sta­dium. Dur­ing the plan­ning process, the cur­few was clearly out­lined, the mayor said, though it also al­lowed for city- ap­proved ex­emp­tions.

Be­fore Wed­nes­day’s con­cert, the 49ers twice pleaded with Santa Clara lead­ers for a one-hour cur­few ex­ten­sion. They were de­nied. Coun­cil mem­bers in­stead re­quested public meet­ings with sta­dium neigh­bors to gather in­put — but twom­eet­ings lead­ing up to the Cold­play con­cert were abruptly can­celled.

Caserta noted the city granted Great Amer­ica amuse­ment park 30 cur­few ex­ten­sions a year.

The Cold­play con­cert be­gan at 7 p. m. Wed­nes­day, but with two open­ing acts, the band didn’t take the stage un­til nearly 9 p. m. At 10 p. m., Cold­play was per­form­ing the song “Char­lie Brown,” and ap­peared to be mid­way through its main set. There was no men­tion of the cur­few by the per­form­ers and no out­ward sign that fans ap­pre­ci­ated or even knew that rocker Chris Martin and his band­mates were vi­o­lat­ing a city cur­few.

A res­i­dent named Pauline Hill tweeted Wed­nes­day night: “Shame on you@ Cold­play, re­spect the neigh­bor­hood cur­few.”

The Nin­ers, along with top con­cert pro­mot­ers, told Santa Clara coun­cil mem­bers in Au­gust that they can­not con­trol what day a mu­si­cian makes avail­able for a tour stop — or how early they want to start the show.

Cold­play’s cur­few-bust­ing fol­lows sim­i­lar vi­ola- tions at the venue by U2 in May and Bey­once in Septem­ber 2016. The team was fined $750 for the U2 vi­o­la­tion but not for the Bey­once con­cert.

Conf licts over cur­fews are not unique to Santa Clara, though the 49ers com­plain that a 10 p. m. week­night cut­off is un­usu­ally early. Other con­cert hosts, like the Bot­tleRock Napa Val­ley fes­ti­val, have been more ag­gres­sive in en­forc­ing their noise cut­off. Bot­tleRock in May cut the sound off on the Foo Fight­ers and also pulled the plug on The Cure in 2014.

But Gary Bon­gio­vanni, edi­tor of con­cert in­dus­try pub­li­ca­tion Poll­star, said cut­ting off the sound can cre­ate “a dan­ger­ous crowd con­trol sit­u­a­tion.” And Gill­mor said be­fore the con­cert: “We won’t pull the plug as it could gen­er­ate a safety is­sue in the sta­dium.”

49ers pres­i­dent Al Guido said the cur­few caused pop icon Ed Sheeran to nix a pos­si­ble 2018 tour stop at Levi’s Sta­dium. Guido said one other ma­jor headliner — yet to be named — also bailed on the venue be­cause of the cur­few. Los­ing concerts at Levi’s robs the city of hundreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in po­ten­tial rev­enue that pays for city ser­vices, Guido added.

“We have al­ready lost one event and will con­tinue to lose more, cost­ing thou­sands of lo­cal jobs, mil­lions of dol­lars in needed rev­enue, and the world- class en­ter­tain­ment op­tions that other ma­jor cities en­joy,” Guido said in a state­ment.

With the 49ers and the Santa Clara City Coun­cil split over ex­tend­ing the cur­few, some sug­gest a bal­lot mea­sure to let vot­ers de­cide the is­sue in 2018. Caserta said he “strongly rec­om­mends” it.

“It would avoid this Kabuki Theater from the ap­pointed mayor,” Caserta said.

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