Cow Palace: The beginning of the end?

March 25, 2008 7:39:12 PM PDT
If you've ever attended events at the Cow Palace, or ever thought you would, you may be running out of time. The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors made a decision Tuesday that could mean the beginning of the end of that famous venue.

Chances are, you've attended something at the Cow Palace; perhaps the rodeo, the Flower and Garden Extravaganza, the gun show, or the Exotic Erotic Ball. But, that 67 year tradition is colliding with the needs of residents who live in the shadow of the arena -- a low income Daly City neighborhood called the Bayshore.

"What we really need is a grocery store and services and other amenities that other communities have that we don't have," says resident Joseph Keh.

For years, Daly City tried to negotiate with Cow Palace to lease 13 acres of land in the parking lot for commercial development, but the two sides could not come to terms.

The arena is in Daly City's jurisdiction, but it belongs to the state, so the city convinced state Senator Leland Yee to author a bill declaring the Cow Palace surplus property. He says it's a money loser and needs millions of dollars in seismic and disability access upgrades. His bill would open the door for Daly City to buy all 68 acres of the property.

Kevin Patterson operates the Dickens Christmas Fair and heads a group called Save the Cow Palace.

"It strikes a slippery slope that will mean the destruction of the Cow Palace and the end of cotton candy there in Daly City," says Patterson.

But Yee's office says, not necessarily.

"There is no mandate to close the Cow Palace. There is no mandate really for any development to occur this is simply about dialogue," says Yee's spokesperson David Burruto.

On Tuesday, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors unanimously threw its support behind the measure, saying it's an economic justice issue for the Bayshore.

"I beliee that area is woefully underserved and this gives an opportunity to the Bayshore community to finally get the amenities they've been looking for," says San Mateo County Supervisor Adrienne Tissier.

But, trying to get around the political maneuvering, the Cow Palace Board of Directors has now decided to search for a private developer to build a retail project.

"We will get some money to put back into our building, which we want to. And at the same time, the residents of the area will hopefully get what they want," says Cow Palace CEO Walter Haub.

That plan won't stop Senator Yee's bill. It moves forward with a hearing in Sacramento next week.


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