Firefighters Foundation, Kaiser Donations to Santa Clara Recognized
At the Jan. 29 Santa Clara City Council meeting, the city recognized two donations for services that play an important role in the quality of life for Santa Clarans.
During 2013, Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit program (share.kaiserpermanente.org) donated $19,385 to support the Santa Clara Library’s Health & Wellness Collection. KP is one of the library’s Founding Donors – a group of supporters that have donated over $100,000 to the City library over the last 10 years.
The Santa Clara Firefighters Foundation.(santaclarafirefightersfoundation.org) donated $4,000 for meals at the Senior Center. Because the City will match the donation, the Center will be able to serve “over 90 meals per day for the rest of the fiscal year,” said Parks and Recreation Director Jim Teixeira. The lunches bring people to the Senior Center, “to socialize and take advantage of all the services offered at the senior center,” Teixeira noted.
The Firefighters Foundation provides a variety of services in the community, including Senior Assist that provides yard cleanup for those physically or financially unable to do so on their own.
Council Approves Travel for Super Bowl L Prep
The City isn’t wasting any time preparing for the Super Bowl L. The Council approved $22,500 for the Visiting Public Safety Official (VPSO) program to send key Santa Clara Officials to the Super Bow 48. The SF Super Bowl Host Committee will reimburse the city.
The New Jersey State Police organized three full days of tours and public safety briefings for Glendale, Bay Area, and Houston public safety officials. Santa Clara sent 12 representatives, including SCPD Chief Mike Chief Sellers and five other
PD representatives; SCFD Chief Bill Chief Kelly and two other fire department representatives; Assistant City Manager Alan Kurotori, Economic Development Officer Ruth Shikada and Traffic Engineer Dennis Ng were also part of the delegation. In addition, the Santa Clara Convention Center sent one representative and San Francisco PD sent at least six.
No word on whether the delegation met with scandal-plagued NJ governor Chris Christie, who stayed busy last week with Super Bowl goodwill events, trying to deflect attention from a mounting stack of subpoenas and corruption allegations.
Council Continues to Take Small Steps Toward New El Camino
The minutiae of zoning questions can often be pretty dull discussions. But the general shabbiness of the El Camino Real is a subject that most people – and not just in Santa Clara, but throughout the entire Peninsula – feel pretty strongly about. At the Jan 29 meeting, the City Council considered two questions that may not have been huge policy statements, but are nonetheless steps toward a new, and more appealing, El Camino.
First, the Council also approved minor changes to the Planed Development (PD) zoning designation that would allow certain exceptions to the current zoning requirements for on-site parking, landscaping, height limits, setback requirements, required distances, and buffering between residential and commercial development. These would be allowed in the interests of developing projects that are “harmonious, integrated …of sufficient unity and architectural quality,” said the agenda report.
However, developments must still conform to requirements that development be “a stable, desirable character not out of harmony with its surrounding neighborhood,” and generally consistent with General Plan land use designation. Further, the number of living units “shall not exceed substantially deviate” from what would be permitted under the 2010 General Plan.
That zoning change didn’t require much discussion. However, a permit request by an El Camino car dealer to display more cars (10) than currently permitted (3) got considerable discussion before being unanimously denied.
“He’s exceeding the use permit,” noted City Manager Julio Fuentes. “[You] can see he is way above capacity in the area.” Further, Fuentes noted that expanding the car lot wasn’t consistent with current General Plan land use designation, although the underlying use permit for three display spaces continues until the business is no longer on the property or the city revokes it. When the business moved in three years ago, there were no other businesses on the property.
“The concern we have with the additional display is that it will encroach on parking for the other businesses in the building,” explained Santa Clara Planning Director Kevin Riley. “We did receive one complaint, the appearance is of the site being overcrowded.”
David’s Restaurant Asks for Golf Course Parking Plan Reconsideration
Although it’s not a zoning question, another issue of land use, stadium parking on the municipal golf course, did return to the Council in the form of a request by Jean Ibrahimin, owner of David’s Restaurant – adjacent to the golf course on Tasman – for reconsideration of the Council’s Jan. 14 approval of the parking plan.
“David’s Restaurant has been excusive provider for 27 years for the Santa Clara golf course. This [parking] will have an adverse effect on our business and revenues, which in turn will have a negative effect on our percentage rent to the city.”
Ibrahim also had another, more immediate concern. “We were called and told by the golf course a few days ago, the course will be closed from Feb.3 to March 24. The pro shop had to call and cancel at least 40 tournaments, which will also affect our business, and layoffs for our employees. Will compensation be issued for our business interruption?”
The Council, however, declined to reopen the question. The golf course closure is for work to prepare it for stadium parking.
City Debt Total Debt Up Slightly Since Last Year
As of Dec. 31, 2013, the total amount of outstanding debt for all City of Santa Clara agencies – including the city-owned electric utility, Silicon Valley Power – was $1.9 billion, according to City Finance Director Gary Ameling’s agenda report.
This is a net increase of $124 million in total debt outstanding since June 30, 2013. The increase is due to additional Stadium Authority debt, but is partly offset by reductions in electric company debt and Electric Joint Powers Agency debt, according to the agenda report.
Requiescat in Pace
The Jan. 28 meeting was adjourned in memory of Philip Scholz, an SCU graduate and employee of NVIDIA, who “died saving the life of a man he didn’t even know,” noted Mayor Jamie Matthews. Scholz was killed on Jan. 20, trying to pull another man to safety who was lying on the Caltrain track at the Santa Clara station. Scholz was known for his big-hearted kindness and energy, and willingness to help others.