The City Council unanimously approved a new policy on Tuesday for distributing the 300 free concert tickets the city receives as part of its lease income from Shoreline Amphitheatre.
Previously, each council member received up to about 90 tickets a year, or two tickets per show at the Amphitheatre. Under the new policy, council members can receive 14 free tickets, plus an additional 10 at face value and another 10 as income that taxes must be paid on.
The new policy was created in response to new rules from the California Fair Political Practices Commission designed to keep elected officials from giving away such tickets in exchange for political support. Many Mountain View council members were giving their tickets to friends and nonprofits, but the FPPC was more concerned with officials in some Southern California cities who were allegedly giving away large numbers of tickets to curry political favor.
Mountain View council members said they rarely used the tickets themselves, and with the new restrictions -- including a new FPPC rule that says the city must report to the public how every ticket is used -- some officials speculated that there would now be more tickets available to the city's volunteers, including city commissioners.
City attorney Michael Martello said the free tickets were originally written into the lease as a way for the city to promote the venue when it was first built in the late 1980s. It stayed in the lease when it was rewritten in 2006 after a lawsuit with operators Bill Graham Presents, Clear Channel and LiveNation.
The council spent a considerable amount of time discussing limits on the number and type of guests council members could bring to concerts. Council member Laura Macias was concerned that the new policy would discourage single members from using the free tickets, because they can only be given to "immediate family." The definition of "immediate family" was expanded to include the guest of a single council member.