County Assessor Larry Stone Led the Stadium Campaign and Lost Tax Appeal to 49ers Worth Hundreds of Millions of Dollars

By Robert Haugh

There were lots of stories about the 49ers winning a huge tax appeal last week. According to our sources, it’s the biggest tax reduction in Santa Clara County history.

We don’t have an official number from the County, but the Assessor’s office said publicly that it cuts the 49ers tax in half — by about $6 million a year.  Wow.

And they have a 40-year lease on the stadium. That would be approximately $240 million in today’s dollars that’s coming out of the budgets of the Santa Clara Unified School District, the County of Santa Clara, the City of Santa Clara, the West Valley-Mission College Community College District and some other smaller government agencies. Double wow.

Even if it’s over 40 years, that’s a ginormous amount of dough.  Still can’t understand SCUSD Superintendent Stan Rose’s weak reaction.

But a major fact was missing from the reports. County Assessor Larry Stone was a big player in helping the 49ers win the campaign and build the stadium in the Mission City.

Here’s what Stone’s Wikipedia page says:  

“San Francisco 49ers Stadium Advisory Council, Chair, 2007–Present”

That fact did not appear in any stories last week.

I covered the Stadium campaign as a Santa Clara Weekly reporter and wrote over two dozen stories. Everyone knew that Stone was a major player in making the stadium happen in Santa Clara. He was always very approachable during the campaign. He wasn’t shy about his enthusiasm for the stadium and the team either.

In fact, I remember a story being written about how Stone got free tickets from the 49ers. That was back in 2006.

Stone has a long and close relationship with the 49ers. So did he have a conflict of interest?

Technically, it wasn’t Stone’s decision. The Assessment Appeals Board made the call.

But it was Stone’s job to defend it. And he lost big.

One local attorney told us that Stone should have turned the defense over to an Assessor in another County to avoid the appearance on a conflict.  And so people won’t question whether he put up a weak defense.

That sounds like good advice. And Stone would have avoided potentially losing the biggest tax appeal in County history.


  1. Didn’t the proponents of this stadium always say the reason we wanted the Stadium was because it was going to fund the schools? Wasn’t that one of their main catch cries ‘its for the children’ …. well the children just got lied to. How dare the Niners go behind everyones back and manipulate an out come in their favor. All those teachers that got raises after the stadium was built better start saving because that’s not going to happen for a while now. These sorts of decisions don’t just affect children, its teachers, its quality of teachers, its upgrades to school properties too I would think. Has the city ever seen the Niners books yet? How much profit do they make? Oh let me guess they are a private organization they don’t have to share but they sure know how to look after ‘the children’

  2. I noticed that nobody appreciates the fact that this stadium was dirt before, producing zero property tax revenue and now it appears to be increasing the property tax revenue by $6M per year. Now that the correct value is on the roll, everyone wants to scream and cry poor. I would like to see an article about ALL of the property tax revenue over the last 10 years – this has been an incredible run of new construction in this county and it is crazy to say that this decision will take box lunches from the kids in SJUSD.

  3. WTF does Larry Stone care about Santa Clara? He lives in Sunnyvale! Thanks for nothing, Mr. Taxman!!

    • George-
      Sunnyvale is in Santa Clara County.
      Santa Clara Unified School District covers Sunnyvale.
      West Valley Mission Community College District includes Mission Community College in Santa Clara.

      So this scumbag Larry Stone is not an outsider. He’s from right here and is crapping on his own town. I’d make a bet the school superintendent is in on whatever payola is changing hands too.

      This is the type of local reporting we need. A shame campaign against Levi’s jeans, the stadium, and the 49ers might be the only way to not screw over the entire country now.

    • JC-thanks for info. This smells rotten. And the Taxman is on 49er advisory board? This smells rotten and taxpayers and kids pay the price. Can this be stopped?

  4. The fact that Larry stone could’ve promoted the stadium without knowing what the real tax impact would be is a travesty. He needs to be removed. Great reporting!

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