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City Desk: May 28, 2014

Irvine’s Monticello Village Re-Design Gets Thumbs-Up From Council

At the May 21 Santa Clara City Council meeting, the Irvine Company returned with a redesign of its Monticello Village project on 16 acres at 3515-3585 Monroe St., near Lawrence Expressway. At the previous meeting, the Council sent the project back to the drawing board, with a request for more family-friendly amenities. This time the project was approved unanimously.

The new design adds two imaginative play areas for children, one designed for toddlers and the second for 5 to 12 year olds. Irvine will also donate $3 million to the city for improving local parks.

“We’ve been able to accommodate all age groups,” said Irvine representative Carlene Matchniff. “One area for toddlers with playhouse, and one for 5-12 year olds with a play structure. There’s a center parents lounge, to keep an eye on both age groups.”


In addition to ground-level neighborhood retail, the 825-apartment development also has a common great room, lounge, two pools, a fitness center, built-in BBQs, and a fitness trail surrounding the buildings.

The development creates a new residential neighborhood in an area of parking lots and non-descript, single-story office and industrial buildings at the end of their useful life.

Water Rate Hike in the Pipeline

Staring in July, Santa Clara residents will see a 12 percent increase in their water bills (about $5 a month) because wholesale water prices are going up.

Water from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is expected to increase 32 percent, while Santa Clara Valley Water District Board is expected to raise prices about 9 percent. Although it may seem surprising, the cost increases aren’t related to the current drought, said Deputy Director Public Works Dave Staub.

Even with the increase, the city will still be subsidizing water in order to reduce the impact on residents, Staub noted.

Marketing Santa Clara: Finding a “Brand” for the City

The city marketing committee met last week and heard from Harvard Business School Community Partners about the results of the community survey about Santa Clara’s “brand.”

While “brand” includes taglines, it’s not necessarily synonymous with them, explained Community Partners’ Chris Greene. It’s what differentiates similar products from one another, or in this case, cities. In other words, what distinguishes Santa Clara from, say, Sunnyvale or Cupertino.

One area of community consensus was that “The Mission City” tagline doesn’t have a lot of resonance as something residents identify with, or that attracts people to want to live, visit or locate businesses here.

The top-ranked brand idea for Santa Clara was “The Hub of Silicon Valley,” which offers both a literal and figurative reference. The city is a transportation hub, where the two main railroads in Northern California (Caltrain and Amtrack) and three major highways connect. That’s in addition to Santa Clara’s close proximity and convenient access to San Jose airport, which is superior to downtown San Jose’s. Santa Clara is also a technology hub as home to the headquarters of industry icons like Intel, National Semiconductor, and NVIDIA.

City Manager Julio Fuentes offered an additional take on the city’s foundational connection to technology: The Cornerstone of Silicon Valley.

The city branding – or re-branding – effort is closely linked to leveraging the visibility that Santa Clara will get when the Super Bowl comes to town in 2016. So a presentation from the marketing arm of the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee was also on last week’s agenda. The presentation focused on predictably TV network-attracting ideas like special lighting effects projected onto buildings.

Fuentes, however, made it crystal clear that he wanted to hear about how the Host Committee planned to make the Super Bowl a community event that would be exciting and memorable for everyone in the city – not just TV cameras. Fuentes has put ideas on the table – starting with a parade celebrating Super Bowls past, and a special exhibit of Super Bowl history. The Host Committee said that these plans would be forthcoming.

The Marketing Committee meets monthly, on the third Wednesday beginning at 4 p.m. in the Central Park Library Edinger Room. The committee has a page on the city website at . However, the material hasn’t been updated since February.

Requiescat in Pace

The May 20 City Council meeting adjourned in memory Gilbert Pereira, owner of Pereira Men’s Store, a landmark of the city’s old downtown.


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