Santa Clara’s City Council approved a new housing development on Pomeroy Avenue despite a lack of support for the plan. Plus, council members went head to head over plans to repair the sign at Levi’s Stadium.
State law has painted the Santa Clara City Council into a corner, forcing its members to approve a housing development it does not support.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, the Council approved an eight-condo housing development on Pomeroy Avenue despite having clear disdain for it. The development, located at 1530 and 1540 Pomeroy Ave., will play host to eight market-rate condos because of a state law that hampers local control.
In the name of adding to California’s housing stock, the law, AB 3194, requires local governments to approve projects if they meet objective criteria, eliminating subjective assessment of land use.
“The City cannot take action to reduce the number of housing units presented by the project or require a rezone, because it is consistent with the general plan,” said James Sanchez, City Attorney. “If there is any sense of the Council leaning toward a denial of this project, the City would have to find a specific adverse impact on public health and safety that is supported by the record.”
While Sanchez told the Council they are “free to vote their conscience,” he also made it clear that there are severe legal consequences should its majority deny the .48-acre development. The project sees two single-family homes on the southern edge of the parcel and six townhomes on the northern side. The Council considered essentially the same project in 2018 and denied it.
Andrew Crabtree, Director of Community Development, told the Council that the City received 14 letters in opposition to the project. Those letters cited traffic, noise, safety and parking as the main complaints about the development. However, none of the concerns listed rise to the level required by the law to justify denying the project.
Council Member Anthony Becker said he felt caught between “a rock and a hard place,” saying, as much as he dislikes it, he is obligated to respect the law.
Mayor Lisa Gillmor said this is just the latest in a slew of slights to local governments by the state. After the vote, Gillmor said the item left “a bad taste.”
“It is only us that know our community. The state doesn’t know Santa Clara like we know Santa Clara, like our residents know Santa Clara, but our hands are tied on this,” she said. “This is an example of what they have done to us and forcing things on our community that we have problems with, but at this point, it is our job not to put the city at risk, and by not approving this project, we are putting the city at risk and we can’t afford that, unfortunately.”
The Council approved the item 4-1-1, with Council Member Kathy Watanabe voting “no” and Council Member Kevin Park abstaining.
Contract for Levi’s Sign at Issue
A contract amendment to repair the sign at Levi’s Stadium devolved into a lengthy debate. A $420,000 increase to a three-year agreement with Bear Electrical Solutions for sign lighting and driver repair was originally pulled from a previous consent calendar.
Gillmor opposed upping the contract, saying that the Council should direct City employees to examine whether the sign needs to be replaced. Gillmor said stadium management should replace the sign instead of having the City sink money into continually repairing it.
However, the majority of the Council didn’t see eye-to-eye with Gillmor on the approval, voting to approve the contract, which now stands at $1.42 million. Gillmor’s lone political ally, Watanabe, cast the only other vote against the contract.
The Council followed Gillmor’s suggestion in seeking an assessment of the viability of repairing the sign versus replacing it in a followup motion. However, because the motion did not mandate that City employees seek a third-party consultation, both Gillmor and Watanabe also voted against that motion.
Consent Calendar Spending
- A $505,023 agreement with Bear Insulation, Inc. to furnish and install new insulation sheeting at Levi’s Stadium;
- $2.02 million contract with Guerra Construction Group for the Santa Clara School access improvements project;
- A $5.9 million contract with O’Grady Paving, Inc., for annual street maintenance and rehabilitation;
- An $8 million increase to a contract with AECOM Technical Services, Inc. for program management services for Silicon Valley Power’s system capacity expansion. Total contract: $11 million;
- $134,000 for purchase orders with A&B Mechanical, Inc., Accel Air Systems, Inc., Thermal Mechanical, Inc. and Environmental Systems, Inc. for HVAC repair, maintenance, and replacement services;
- A $115,408 purchase order with Johnson Controls Fire Protection LP for citywide fire alarm maintenance, inspection, testing, and repair services;
- $217,004 for emergency recycled water line repair;
- A $25,000 purchase order to Advance Stores to procure automotive parts, accessories and related supplies;
- $10,000 for auto parts at AutoZone;
- $50,000 for audio visual products at B&H;
- $100,000 to CDW Government LLC for information technology solutions related to hardware, software, computer equipment, peripherals and accessories;
- $250,000 to Cintas Corporation for uniforms, brand name apparel, safety footwear, promotional products, facility products, and first aid and supplies;
- $50,000 to Fastenal Company for MRO supplies and industrial supplies;
- $50,000 at Home Depot for MRO and industrial supplies;
- $50,000 at Kimball Midwest for MRO and industrial supplies;
- $13,500 for awards to recognize Levi’s Stadium employees;
- $59,050 travel costs for City employees associated with various conventions.
Council Member Raj Chahal was absent.
The next regularly scheduled meeting is Tuesday, May 16 in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1500 Warburton Ave. in Santa Clara.
Members of the public can participate in the City Council meetings on Zoom at https://santaclaraca.zoom.us/j/99706759306; Meeting ID: 997-0675-9306 or call 1(669) 900-6833, via the City’s eComment (available during the meeting) or by email to PublicComment@santaclaraca.gov.