News: 1999-04.27-Chronicle

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T: Renaissance Faire Referendum Loses Steam
S: Antioch officials say event's fate should be City Council decision
A: Christopher Heredia, Chronicle Staff Writer
D: Tuesday, April 27, 1999

An Antioch councilwoman's crusade to have voters decide whether to allow the Renaissance Faire to move to town may die tonight because of lack of support on the City Council.

Angel Sudario said her idea of putting the fair on the ballot was ``proposed by the community.'' She said it would give Antioch voters the chance to decide whether the 19- day event relocates from Novato to the hills of Antioch.

Sudario noted that many of the 200 residents who showed up at a town hall meeting supported putting the decision to a vote. But a survey of City Council members yesterday showed that Sudario stood alone in her desire to place the matter on the ballot.

And Renaissance Entertainment Corp. Vice President Howard Hamburg called Sudario's idea of a vote ``premature'' and said anything other than a council vote would be unacceptable.

``Otherwise, the invitation is null and void,'' Hamburg said. ``We've been invited to Antioch to prove our case, not to participate in some political process where the merits of the fair are argued based on allegation.''

Sudario said voters should decide the fair's fate in Antioch because it will lead to ``total gridlock'' on weekends.

``It should be up to the people to decide,'' she said.

``It's going to affect the community for the next 10 years. With the traffic the fair will generate, you're not going to be able to leave Antioch on the weekends.

``Sometimes what's good for the city coffers is not always best for the city at large.''

Hamburg said her claims about traffic are ``flying in the face of the facts'' of city traffic studies that show Highway 4 and city streets can handle the traffic on the weekends.

The rest of the City Council said it should decide whether the fair comes to Antioch.

Mayor Mary Rocha said an election would be too costly. According to the city clerk's estimate -- using a formula from the county elections department -- a ballot measure on the fair could cost $60,000.

``Since we're elected, we feel we're responsible for taking the action and not putting another burden of cost,'' Rocha said.

Councilman Manny Soliz Jr. said he supports the fair moving to Antioch for the potential revenue and publicity it could bring Antioch and accused Sudario of ``grandstanding.''

``We need to represent our constituents after we've got all the information,'' Soliz said. ``It's not even clear yet whether a public vote makes sense. She's presuming the public has enough information.''

Councilmen Don Freitas and Jim Davis also said they support the council voting on whether the fair comes to Antioch.

A vocal opponent of the fair, who expressed skepticism about whether Antioch's elected officials represent the best interest of all residents, said a ballot measure would be too expensive.

``I don't think (the city has) the money, but if it goes to a public vote we'll support the election, and we'll win,'' said Deborah Anderson, a member of C.A.R.E, Citizens Against a Renaissance Environment, who worries that the value of her property will fall because of the traffic generated by the fair. ``My phone hasn't stopped ringing today from people who want the fair out of here.''