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January 19, 2020

Granada ballot measure on hold

Voters won’t get to decide if they want to keep the downtown
Granada Theater in November, and the proponents of a future ballot
measure say the city council can speed up the process that might
conflict with current redevelopment plans.
Voters won’t get to decide if they want to keep the downtown Granada Theater in November, and the proponents of a future ballot measure say the city council can speed up the process that might conflict with current redevelopment plans.

The nonprofit Save the Granada foundation still wants to give the voters a chance to force the council to change its mind about its plan for the property, even if they have to wait until the next scheduled municipal election in 2012.

“We’re full-speed ahead,” said Save the Granada co-founder Stephen Beard, describing the group’s efforts to gather signatures and fulfill legal ballot qualifications.

After the foundation’s repeated attempts to convince the council to change its plans, Save the Granada set out earlier this summer to meet those requirements in time for the Nov. 2 election.

The measure, with a majority vote in favor, would change the zoning on the Granada Theater property, which the city owns, to preserve the building as a “cultural icon” and only allow entertainment as a future use for the Granada, the proposed measure summary says. Entertainment use in the measure is defined as “cinema, comedy, concerts, live stage theater, and live music in conjunction with restaurant dining.”

Currently, the DSP says the Granada Theater property on the 17400 block of Monterey Road can be used for future retail, housing and office purposes. The plan leaves open the possibility of using it as a theater or cinema.

The language of the ballot measure has been approved by the city attorney’s office, but due to conflicting information from the city clerk’s office the Granada proponents were unable to meet the Aug. 6 deadline to submit signatures and qualify for the Nov. 2 ballot, Beard said.

Now, it could be as late as Nov. 2012 that voters get to decide if they want to save the theater, a delay that conflicts with the city’s current plans which include building a mixed-use retail and residential project on the site, with construction beginning by early 2012.

But the council could approve a ballot measure and special election before then, Beard said. He added he has “a hard time believing” the council would keep the project on hold until the November 2012 election.

“We’ll just get it qualified and let the city decide how to handle it,” Beard added. A special election would cost the city about $50,000, according to the city manager’s office.

So, the collection of signatures goes on. At least 10 percent of the signatures of all the city’s registered voters – about 1,800 – is required to place a measure on the ballot. The group is confident it can gain those long before the 180-day time frame allowed since the measure summary was published.

In recent months, the council has repeatedly upheld its current downtown plan to place a cinema at Monterey Road and Second Street, and redevelop the Granada as a mixed-use retail and residential spot.

The city is currently in negotiations with Barry Swenson Builder to sell the Granada Theater property to the San Jose company, which plans to redevelop it with a multi-level structure with retail on the ground floor and about 60 residential units upstairs.

Those negotiations are expected to be completed by the end of this year, according to city staff. A ballot measure approved for Nov. 2 could have lengthened that process by up to 90 days.

If the county registrar approved a Nov. 2012 ballot measure, it is unclear how that would affect the current negotiations between the city and BSB.

The two parties hope to enter into a “development and disposition agreement” by the end of this year or early 2011, city manager Ed Tewes said. Under that agreement, the city would sell the property to the developer, who would agree to build a project approved by the city.

“It’s our intention to enter into a binding contract with the developer to have the property developed,” Tewes said. “The contract would be entered into long before November 2012. It would be bound by the law at the time it was entered into.”

Torrez and Mayor Steve Tate did not immediately return phone calls.

Save the Granada has submitted a business plan that says the theater can feasibly be run for live performances and movies, without taxpayer subsidies to keep it alive. The plan says a combination of ticket sales and private fundraising can easily finance the theater’s operations.

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