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Controversial Civic Center Drive Development Recommended for Approval

After lengthy public comment, the Planning Commission recommended that the City Council approve a planned affordable housing complex at 1601 Civic Center Drive with several added conditions.

More than 100 people wrote letters and called in to the Aug. 3 Planning Commission meeting to express their opinion about the project proposed by Charities Housing.

The Civic Center Drive Development is slated to create 108 affordable housing units on a 1.4-acre site at the intersection of Lincoln Street and Civic Center Drive. The site is currently home to a vacant two-story office building.


Residents wrote letters to the Planning Commission to express concern about a potential increase in crime, the high-density nature of the project, shadowing caused by the building and an increase in parking on already crowded streets.

“There is already congestion in street parking along Civic [Center] Drive and there has been spill over into guest parking in the Hillebrant Pl. neighborhood (we’ve had cars being towed for parking guest parking over long periods of time) and as such, I would only imagine the parking situation getting worse,” wrote James.

“According to the review of other CH locations in the Bay Area, there’re many car break-ins. This poses a big risk to the neighborhood. Is CH prone to attract crimes? Does CH do any security or background check to the future residents?” Jean wrote.

Others were unhappy with Charities Housing, calling the developer “liars” and untrustworthy. One person said Charities Housing did nothing after an RV at the site emptied its septic into their backyard. There were also accusations of blight and homeless encampments at the property.

Ultimately, the Planning Commissioners approved recommending the plan.

“Low income does not mean criminal,” said Commissioner Lance Saleme. “I have to go back to the original concept. This is housing to alleviate the need of lower-priced housing for those that live and work in this City. They are teachers, shop workers, people on loading docks, mail carriers…these are people that deserve to have a home of their own to live in. They are not transients. They are people that live and want to work in Santa Clara.”

Commissioners unanimously recommended the City Council approve the Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) and Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program. They also unanimously recommended that the City Council approve a General Plan amendment from community commercial to high-density residential.

Commissioner Nancy Biagini added several amendments to staff recommendation #3, approval of a rezoning from General Office (OG) to Planned Development (PD), including:

  1. That Charities Housing include a transit pass (VTA) for each tenant that requests it;
  2. That Charities Housing continue community outreach to residents and communities of interest with oversight from the Director of Community Development;
  3. That Charities Housing designate a ride share area onsite to the satisfaction of the Director of Community Development;
  4. That Charities Housing provide a venue to display public art with consideration to the Native Americans “that were here long before us;”
  5. That Charities Housing give serious consideration to exploring shared parking with commercial and city buildings in the area to alleviate overparking in the area;
  6. That Charities Housing and its contractors comply with emission, noise, street cleaning and dust control or be subject to code enforcement per City of Santa Clara guidelines;
  7. That Charities Housing implement a recorded and monitored security camera system containing approximately 50 cameras monitored by persons on site to the satisfaction of the Director of Community Development and at the Director’s discretion, the security system may need to be monitored by security personnel.

The motion passed 4-1 with Commissioner Ron Patrick voting no.

The City Council will take up the 1601 Civic Center Drive development proposal at its Sept. 27 meeting.

Other Planning Commission Business

This was the first Planning Commission meeting for Patrick, who was selected by the City Council to replace Yuki Ikezi on the commission.

Commission Chair Priya Cherukuru and Commissioner Yashraj Bhatnagar were both absent.

The Planning Commission unanimously approved the consent calendar, which included:

  • Planning Commission Meeting minutes of June 15, 2022 (Patrick abstained);
  • Permit to allow the sale and consumption of beer and wine at Tacomania restaurant at 2855 Stevens Creek Blvd.;
  • Permit to allow sale and consumption of alcohol at Tostada’s restaurant at 3149 Mission College Blvd.;
  • Permit to allow sale and consumption of beer and wine at Mountain Mike’s Pizza at 2510 Augustine Dr.;
  • Variance to maintain a one-car garage with a 589 sq. ft. second-story addition to a single-family home at 2663 Sonoma Place;
  • And time extension on variance to building height and architectural review approvals for an office project at 3625 Peterson Way.

The next Planning Commission meeting is Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 6 p.m.



1 Comment
  1. Yuki ikezi 2 years ago

    Thank you for detailed reporting. Very informative

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