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Three Strikes

[whitespace] San Jose--In February, former San Jose mayor Al Ruffo shook up the political establishment when he filed a lawsuit to stop the proposed move of City Hall from North First Street to East Santa Clara Street. Then, he was alone. But now, his list of supporters is growing.

In an amended complaint against the city, Ruffo has added eight names to his quest--including another former mayor, Ernest Renzel. Unofficially, he has also added a second former mayor, Janet Gray Hayes, who told Metro she believes Ruffo "is on the right track" in trying to stop the move.

The amended complaint charges that the city, the Redevelopment Agency and the Civic Center Task Force used "flawed assumptions" in determining that the move would save taxpayers $278 million over 50 years.

One major flaw results from the city counting on proceeds from leasing the properties it currently occupies, according to Ruffo. Ruffo points out that the land which the present city hall sits on was bequeathed to the city in 1946 by botanist Edward Knoche, who mandated "that the gifted property be forever used for the benefit of the public." Ruffo charges that leasing the land for other purposes would violate Knoche's intent.

Ruffo's attorney, Michael Reedy of McManis Faulkner and Morgan, also argues that moving city hall downtown will bring lots of traffic, but little revitalization to the area. He cites San Francisco's crime-plagued Civic Center as an example, as well as a city hall built in downtown Phoenix which he says turned the area into a "graveyard."
Michael Learmonth

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