In the film Patton, the legendary general becomes livid after the enemy strafes his tank column. The greatest military machine of its time had been halted because two mules blocked a bridge. Incredulous at the absurdity of it all, General Patton bellows, “You let an entire column get strafed because of a couple of jack-asses?” He then shoots the poor animals and throws them over the bridge to keep his army moving.
One can pity the mules, but it is a false equivalency to expect them to be spared as human beings are being killed.
On a much smaller—and non-lethal—scale, a similar scenario is playing out with soccer fields in Santa Clara.
The city of Santa Clara has become a model for the rest of Silicon Valley in its governance. A new book by former Councilman Kevin Moore describes in detail how the small municipality overcame great odds to land the premier sports team in the Bay Area—at least until Stephan Curry and the Warriors went crazy. Now Santa Clara is poised to benefit from Super Bowl 50, inarguably the world’s premier sporting event each year.
For all of Santa Clara’s successes, though, the process of getting the stadium approved, built and ultimately making it work financially has been hampered by a small-town NYMBY mentality. On Tuesday, a judge will rule on a lawsuit filed by the NIMBYs, who will trot out their version of cute mules: small children in soccer uniforms who have no place to play.
All the while, they’ll trash those mean-spirited leaders of the city, the San Francisco 49ers and the NFL itself—you know, the folks who are bringing more than $1 billion to our local economy.
Never mind that the city of Santa Clara has offered two replacement fields for kids to play at Twin Creeks. Never mind that the San Jose Earthquakes have an excellent public relations opportunity to step up and help out. Never mind that the NFL has agreed to repair any damage to the fields once the big event is finished.
No, the NIMBYs cry, all that isn’t good enough. So they sued—and they’ll likely lose and continue to try and embarrass the city of Santa Clara, the 49ers and the NFL. Over soccer fields.
Shooting the NIMBYs and throwing them off a bridge would be inappropriate. But they also do not deserve the amount of attention they’ve received at the expense of a very well-run city—all while using using children as props.
In the end, the soccer kids will come out way ahead—because the city, NFL and 49ers have a huge interest in making them whole, mainly because of public relations reasons. Who knows, if they play their cards right, maybe they could even be part of the halftime show.