City Council 2015–2017 Goals: Downtown Revitalization, Creek Trail Extension, Restored Services and Better Asset Management, Governance Standards, Continuing Projects and Possible “Re–Use” of Civic Center
At its April 7 meeting, the Santa Clara City Council approved its 2016–2017 goals; something it has been working on since February, first at a February 23 study session, and again at a March 9 study session. There was some discussion about the completion dates, as several of the items are due this month or overdue.
While many of the items are projects that are continuing from previous years, one new item is “Evaluate a re–use plan for Civic Center.” However, the idea of moving city government buildings and better utilizing that land has been floating around “in the ether” for awhile; with a hint the 2010 General Plan (p.2–9): “Explore a civic presence in Downtown.” Was the reuse plan referring to this, asked Council Member Debi Davis.
Moving City Hall downtown “could be a potential option,” said City Manager Julio Fuentes. Other options include moving next to the Police Station, or leave City Hall where it is and developing around it.
There is no specific site plan, just “general ideas,” according to the Fuentes. “We have been looking at all our properties and what we can do, especially in light of the Redevelopment Agency Dissolution and we have lost a lot of our properties that used to generate income.”
“Since it's city–owned property, it would be a good opportunity for mixed use, that would still have open space and affordable housing,” noted Council Member Teresa O'Neill. “Since we do own the land, it would be great chance to build some more affordable housing.”
“The Council here is to determine whether the Council wants to move forward with an evaluation,” pointed out Mayor Jamie Matthews. “It doesn't mean we're going to move forward on this.”
O'Neill also requested that the Council form a governance committee. Santa Clara's City Council has no single repository defining its policies and operations. The need for this became clear when several Council Members said they didn't know exactly how things are added to Council agendas.
“There are many levels of rules and regulations to be looked at and made sure they're not in conflict with one another,” noted Council Member Pat Kolstad. The Council needs to do bring all these things together, he said. One example of what the Council is talking about is Sunnyvale's Council Policy Manual (sunnyvale.ca.gov/CodesandPolicies/CouncilPolicy.aspx).
One subject the Council discussed, but doesn't directly appear as a goal, is the balance between resident–owned and rental housing – specifically in the face of several huge rental–only development projects that have been approved or are under consideration. “I've seen the ups and downs of the real estate market,” said Council Member Lisa Gillmor, “and I don't want to be stuck somewhere down the line where all we have in Santa Clara is rental units. I think we should look at diversifying our 'product.' Otherwise, it changes the dynamic of the City.”
To see the Council Goals documents and reports from the Feb. 23, March 9 and April 7 meetings, visit santaclaraca.gov/index.aspx?page=1504 and select the meeting agendas. Documents are linked to agenda items.