Santa Clara leaders remain flummoxed by curfew breach
Coldplay’s violation leaves city worried about future enforcement of time limit
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.