The Council approved invoking eminent domain against a Santa Clara business to make way for the behemoth City Place development.
Invoking eminent domain on David’s Banquet Hall, located at 5131 Stars & Stripes Dr. was necessary in order to relocate Stars & Stripes Drive to accommodate the infrastructure for the project, said Ruth Shikada, Assistant City Manager.
Local restaurateur David Ebrahimi, owner of the now-closed David’s Restaurant and still-operating David’s Banquet Hall, said he has no interest in moving the banquet hall he still operates, calling it a “prime” location.
“By doing what you are going to do, you had better a get a gun and shoot me,” he said. “I’d be happy.”
David’s Restaurant has been operating in Santa Clara for 31 years, but the City opted not to renew the lease for the restaurant once New York-based Related Companies proposed a multi-billion-dollar mixed-use development on 240 acres near the golf course.
Besides the owners, five members of the public commented on the action Tuesday night; none supported it.
David Delozier called the use of eminent domain “immoral” and a “political liability,” warning the Council not to “open Pandora’s Box.”
The City originally offered Ebrahimi $5,000 for the lease buyback, an offer he refused.
Jean Ebrahimi, co-owner of David’s, said the City is treating her and her husband unfairly.
“Our business and livelihood [have] been disregarded in this massive development,” she said.
Still, as Mayor Lisa Gillmor pointed out, the building and the land are both owned by the City. The issue at hand is the termination of the lease and any possible loss of business due to relocating.
The Council remains committed to not invoking eminent domain on private property regarding the Tasman East Specific Plan, she added.
“We are not taking anybody’s property,” she said.
Should the two parties be unable to reach a settlement, a jury would decide on compensation for any loss of business. However, Gayle Conner, the City’s outside legal counsel, said eminent domain cases “almost never go to trial.”
The Council voted 5-1 to begin the eminent domain process for David’s; newly elected Council Member Karen Hardy was the lone “no” vote.
Additionally, the City Council voted to terminate the 1985 agreement with Hyatt Regency’s parent company for the right of use for Hyatt’s patrons to use the tennis courts — also subject to eminent domain. The courts are located on City-owned land through the Santa Clara Golf and Tennis Club. The vote was unanimous. No one from Hyatt Regency or any members of the public spoke during that agenda item.
TID Board Approved
Following the Council’s seizing control of the tourism improvement district (TID) money from the Chamber of Commerce, the Council approved forming a TID Advisory Board.
The nine-person board would oversee the TID, but any changes in the board would have to come through the Council, said City Manager Deanna Santana.
Santana said the City has collected the TID reserve money from the Chamber and roughly $90,000 of $200,000. Further, she recommended that the City remain the fiscal agent for the money until a “more stable” option can be determined.
Newly elected Council Member Raj Chahal wondered why the item’s financial impact is listed as “none” on the agenda.
Because her office is unable to determine how much time City employees will have to devote to managing the TID fund, Santana said she will have to return with a budget amendment detailing the fiscal impact.
Lawn Bowlers Still Have to Wait
The Council again delayed making a decision regarding a new clubhouse for the Santa Clara Lawn Bowlers.
Because of $27.5 million worth of much-needed park improvements, spending $550,000 to $2 million on a new lawn bowling clubhouse in Central Park has not been a high priority.
The City budgeted $175,000 to spruce up the club’s existing portable earlier this year, but Jerry Patrignani, a spokesperson for the group, said the group doesn’t want its current clubhouse fixed up; it wants a new one — like the City promised 15 years ago.
“Everything about this trailer, this boxcar, whatever you want to call it, is just not right,” Patrignani said. “[We can] go on putting up with it so long as there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Hardy questioned whether the group had done any fundraising or looked for any grants to help fund the new clubhouse. Patrignani responded saying the club didn’t “know where [it] stood with the City.”
Hardy suggested using the money as “seed” money should the lawn bowlers manage to secure other funding to fill the gap between what the Council allocated and the cost of getting the upgrade it wants.
The Council agreed to continue the item while exploring securing other modulars similar to the repurposed construction trailer the group uses now. In the meantime, City employees will still deal with what Santana called “health and safety issues.”
Parking for College Football Playoff
Never one to miss an opportunity to criticize the 49ers, Mayor Lisa Gillmor sounded off about parking in the neighborhoods surrounding Levi’s Stadium during large-scale events.
The topic came up during a presentation by Jim Mercurio, Manager of Levi’s Stadium, regarding the College Football Championship. The game, and various other periphery events for ticket holders, will take place Jan. 1 to 7, 2019 at and near the stadium.
Mercurio said he “felt good” about the measures put in place to ensure the roughly 70,000 expected attendees park where they are supposed to park.
However, Gillmor didn’t seem convinced that parking would not spill over into the surrounding neighborhoods, citing her experience during a recent game.
“The neighborhoods are chock full of parking from the stadium,” she said. “There is not supposed to be any — any — stadium parking [there].”
Mercurio countered, saying he did not have the authority to “not let somebody down a public street.”
Police Chief Mike Sellers has previously said as much, adding that discussions regarding permitted parking for residents has been met with public resistance.
Still, Mercurio’s riposte fell on deaf ears.
“When you made those promises that there would be no parking in those neighborhoods, what did you intend to do?” Gillmor said.
City Attorney Brian Doyle also gave his opinion, saying the 49ers were able to “come up with an ordinance to solve their marketing problem” but unable to solve the parking issue. Gillmor said the topic needs to be put on the work plan for January, adding that “there needs to be penalties.”
City Chips Away at Stadium Debt
As of the quarter ending September this year, the Stadium Authority has decreased its debt on the stadium by $288 million since March 2014.
Three NFL games netted the Stadium Authority $1.7 million while seven non-NFL events brought in $977,000. The City earned $215,000 from parking fees.
Although $364 million of debt remains, the Stadium Authority managed to pay $18 million toward the debt between March 2017 and September 2018.
The Council also approved half a million dollars of construction on its consent calendar.
A $415,098 contract with Mountain View-based O’Grady Paving Inc. for the Mission College Boulevard Bike Lane project got approved. Of that money, $101,355 is to be transferred from the Streets and Highway Fund – Pedestrian & Bicycle Enhancement Facilities.
Code enforcement services saw an $87,500 increase, bringing the total cost of that contract — with Mountain View-based Metropolitan Planning Group — to $1.28 million.
An exclusive negotiating agreement with Freebird Development Company for the development of 2330 Monroe St. also saw approval.
Council Member Patricia Mahan was absent. The Council’s next regularly scheduled meeting is at 7 p.m. on Dec. 18 in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1500 Warburton Ave. in Santa Clara.