City Research Shows Santa Clara Residents Have Mixed Views on Changing Levi’s Stadium Weeknight Curfew
Traffic, Parking and Disorderly Conduct at Stadium Has Major Impact on Nearby Residents and Residents Desire Increased Transparency and Open Communication from 49ers
City-sponsored research shows the nearer Santa Clara residents live to Levi’s Stadium, the more likely they are to have significant issues with parking, traffic and disorderly game and concert attendees—and they get sympathy and understanding from residents who are farther away.
Despite the pervasive media coverage of the weeknight curfew at Levi’s Stadium restricting events from going beyond 10 p.m., residents did not cite the curfew among their chief concerns. Residents are generally supportive of having a curfew, but more than half of those surveyed are open to limited exceptions to the policy, the survey shows.
The research, which combined a telephone survey, focus groups, digital outreach and community meetings, indicates that Santa Clara residents are happy overall with the City and its government, but also express frustrations at regional traffic and the high cost of living, which ranked first and second as the major issues facing the City.
“The results of this engagement effort validated the concerns that we have heard from the community over the past several years, since Levi’s Stadium opened,” said Santa Clara Mayor, Lisa M. Gillmor. “Based upon the baseline results, the Council/Board must implement solutions for our residents, particularly for those that live near the stadium, as quality of life is of the utmost importance. We remain dedicated to protecting our neighborhoods and engaging with our community, while still realizing the economic benefit of the stadium.”
While residents are dissatisfied with some of the more disruptive impacts of the stadium, general stadium-related issues are not “top-of-mind” in relation to other regional issues. However, residents did indicate a lack of trust between the community and the 49ers, citing a lack of financial transparency and failure to follow through on commitments that were made in early agreements. As expected, stadium-related issues have a higher intensity among the near-neighbor population to the stadium.
Residents identified key community concerns as those related to:
Parking and traffic around the stadium;
“Disruptive” behavior after games including loitering, littering and other security issues;
Communication between residents and the Stadium, to a lesser extent the City;
Noise issues - residents are satisfied with the existing curfew system at the stadium, but are open to changes and additional community engagement on that issue
In an initial citywide survey of 600 respondents to identify key issues, residents and near neighbors alike indicated strong levels of concern over traffic and parking, with 69% of residents (and 78% of near neighbors) indicating stadium traffic was a major issue, while 50% of residents (and 62% of near neighbors) highlighted parking in neighborhoods near the stadium as a problem. Local businesses surveyed also indicated that traffic and parking were their top concerns – at 55% and 35% respectively. Both residential groups also noted disruptive behavior after games – namely littering, drinking/drugs, and loitering – in their top four concerns, after traffic.
During the qualitative phases of research, approximately 400 residents were engaged through focus groups, community interviews, community meetings and an online questionnaire. As with the initial poll, residents living near the stadium expressed higher levels of concern than those who didn’t, though the citywide residents expressed support for those living near the stadium.
Through this dialogue, it became clear that both groups felt a lack of trust had developed between the community and ManCo (the 49ers stadium management company) and to a lesser extent, the City, which they attributed to issues with financial transparency and follow-through. Those who view the stadium positively expressed appreciation for the economic and entertainment benefits the stadium has brought, though they also indicated they felt it was not utilized to its fullest extent.
Finally, a policy survey of 400 residents garnered similar results to the initial phone survey, with 48% of respondents stating traffic congestion and parking when asked an open ended question about stadium’s biggest negative. In surprising contrast, only 14% of respondents answered stadium-related noise to the same question.
When residents were asked to rate issues impacting them, traffic and parking are seen as the most important, with four in 10 saying it’s extremely important. Disruptive behavior around neighborhoods ranked third in issues. Six in 10 say it is important to address noise during and after events, with only a quarter rating it as “extremely important.”
When asked whether they support the curfew, 50% of residents support it, 25% are opposed and 25% are neutral. About half of all residents think the 10 p.m. stadium curfew is “about right,” while one third feel it is too “restrictive.” Just one in 10 feel it is not restrictive enough. Additionally, a majority of residents (54%) support the general idea of limited exceptions to the curfew, with 56% supporting three to four exceptions per year and 60% supporting two to three exceptions per summer.
While specific findings and policy recommendations for Board consideration and further deliberation will be reviewed in-depth at the Special Stadium Board Meeting, consultants have identified some of the following recommendations:
Increase availability, access, and provide financial incentives for carpooling and transiting;
Improve game day traffic communications and parking strategy;
Expand and enhance post-game security forces, including neighborhood patrols;
Provide more options to avoid post-game littering and impacts to neighbors;
For near neighbors impacted by noise, additional noise control measures;
For ManCo (the 49ers stadium management company), repair trust and improve communication through a variety of means: establish a community hotline, provide neighbor benefits, and liaise with a citizen’s advisory committee.
Efforts to engage local residents began in December 2017 when the City of Santa Clara Stadium Authority Board authorized the Lew Edwards Group (LEG) to direct community research and collaborate on engagement pertaining to Levi’s Stadium. LEG, utilizing respected research and polling company EMC Research, and in collaboration with Public Dialogue Consortium (PDC), coordinated quantitative and qualitative community engagement programs. The process concluded in May 2018, and the full report and recommendations were presented to the City Council/Stadium Authority Board on June 21, 2018.