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.
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.
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.