With the fate of six acres of open land – one of Silicon Valley’s scarcest resources – being decided, at the Sept. 29 Santa Clara City Council meeting advocates for each of the three proposals being considered by the City Council were out in force to speak. The land is what remains of the former 17-acre UC agricultural research station, BAREC, that was shuttered by the state in 2002.
Another group was also there to speak: the residents of Midtown Village, the tract of single-family houses that was built on the other 11 acres of BAREC. This group almost unanimously opposed the higher densities proposed by CORE Companies, ROEM Development and USA Properties. The added density would choke the area with additional traffic, overwhelm their streets with parked cars, depress property values, increase crime rates, and damage their “quality of life.”
These are exactly the same objections made a decade ago by opponents of Midtown Village at the eight-hour City Council meeting in June, 2007 when that development project was approved.
“In honor of the late great Yogi Berra – it’s déjà vu all over again,” said Council Member O’Neill. “I was on the planning commission at the time.”
A lot had changed since 2007 she said. “We went into the Great Recession. The RDA went away. Land values are much higher. Densities have to change. Without the redevelopment housing funds [30 percent of RDA revenue] we have to increase the densities.” The requirement was a minimum of 165 senior housing units, O’Neill said, not a maximum.
“There were a lot of people in my neighborhood who did not want the Midtown project and they were here using the same issue, traffic,” said Council Member Lisa Gillmor. “We’re here 10 years later and now it’s the Midtown Village people saying the same thing.” The people who had objected to Midtown Village weren’t at the Council meeting complaining, she said. They were “very happy” with their new neighbors.
“I’m looking at the beginning of the process not the end,” Gillmor said. “We are not approving a project tonight. All we’re looking at is entering into an exclusive negotiating agreement.”