Back when I was in private practice, I represented a park district that wanted to turn some old railroad lines in the middle of nowhere into a bike trail. They built about 85% of the trail, but the last little stretch was held up by this group of Mennonite farmers who lived next to the right-of-way and claimed the land where the tracks used to be was theirs. “How could that be,” I wondered? The railroad had tracks on that property since the 19th century, and they gave the tracks directly to my client. The Mennonites, however, had all manner of questionable and ancient legal documents which they claimed their great great great something or other had reserved the rights if the railroad ever left, yadda, yadda, yadda. I read these things, quickly figured out that, while it could be a pain, we could get that land for the bike trail if we were determined enough to do it.
Right before I filed my lawsuit to quiet title, the Mennonites parked a mobile home on the right of way and claimed they were home schooling a bunch of Mennonite farmer kids there, which immediately turned us into the bad guys and complicated my little lawsuit. Five years later, and I think the Mennonites have moved on to consulting with the San Francisco Giants:
Amid a threat to their territorial rights in Santa Clara County, the Giants are moving to fortify their baseball outpost in the region.
The major league club has reached agreement to purchase a 25 percent stake in their Single-A minor league affiliate in San Jose, club and industry officials told the Mercury News.
The club will hold a news conference at Municipal Stadium on Thursday to announce the transaction, which includes an option to gain a controlling interest in 2010 by purchasing an additional 30 percent.
“The South Bay is a major part of our operation and this reinforces that,” San Francisco Giants president Larry Baer said. “We have fans, sponsors and baseball history there that runs deep. It was a logical extension of who we are and what we do.”
According to baseball officials, the purchase will not enhance or alter the legality of the San Francisco Giants’ territorial rights to Santa Clara County; the A’s are known to be eyeing the region in their longstanding efforts to build a new stadium.
Lots of great reporting in this one, including the mayor of San Jose snubbing the Giants’ little news conference tomorrow and some choice quotes from a San Jose city councilman (a) noting how curious it is that the Giants care about San Jose all of a sudden; and (b) why, if the Giants truly had planned on making this investment for years as they claim, they allowed the city to pony up for renovations to San Jose’s stadium before buying into the team. Are the Giants calculating or are they cheap? Maybe both!
My guess: the Giants are doing whatever they can to bolster their claim to the territory in advance of the report from Bud’s Magic Oakland Committee. Maybe not with an eye towards ultimately blocking the A’s from moving to San Jose — I can’t exactly see how they legally and/or practically could do that — but to maximize the payoff they’ll get from Selig and the A’s when they ultimately drop their opposition.
Will it work? Well, in my case we got the Mennonite “school” off the property and there’s a bike trail there now. But I gotta tell ya: it was a hell of a lot more protracted and expensive an experience than anyone thought it would be.
(thanks to reader Ed T. for the heads up)