A study session to hone in on policies aimed at curtailing homelessness in Santa Clara kicked off Santa Clara City Council’s last meeting.
At its meeting Tuesday, the Council directed City employees on how best to pursue policies it believes will make a dent in the homelessness problem. The Council heard from Jonathan Veach, the City’s Housing Director, and Assistant Police Chief Derek Rush on the myriad challenges with addressing the issue.
Since the City does not provide social services many homeless people so desperately need, Veach said it “makes sense” for the City to continue to partner with Santa Clara County, which supplies funding for such services. He called the issue “broad and complicated.”
Based on data available, Veach said there are roughly 326 homeless people in Santa Clara, but serving them is often challenging. More than 80% are jobless; 42% have psychological issues, 35% are addicted to drugs or alcohol and roughly a third are suffering from post-traumatic syndrome disorder. Tackling the problem requires a coordinated effort, especially since the problem is regional, he added.
“We know that more needs to be done at the local level to supplement and enhance what the county is already doing,” he said. “It is not a one-for-one tradeoff. If we create 326 units of homeless housing, we necessarily don’t get our number down to zero.”
Homelessness creates myriad problems in the City including trash, vandalism, violence and an environmental impact since many camps are near the creeks, Rush said.
The recent Supreme Court ruling in Martin v. Boise prohibits police from criminalizing homelessness. That coupled with the state’s no-bail policy, which allows those who commit petty crimes to return to the streets, and the City’s lack of enforcement for panhandling has hamstrung police, he added.
Layer atop that the multiple agencies — from private land owners, the water district, the county, CalTrans — have jurisdiction over the City’s problem areas and that, by Rush’s estimation, roughly 60 to 70% of homeless people refuse to accept help.
City Manager Deanna Santana sought direction from the Council as to the exact nature of which avenues to pursue.
Veach pointed to several long-term solutions, including a partnership with the Bill Wilson Center, the rental assistance program and the addition of several housing developments slated to add roughly 1,000 low-income apartments. While the Council supported these programs as well as City employees continuing to pursue the state’s plan, it also spit-balled several more immediate solutions for the short-term.
Council Member Suds Jain said he thinks Santa Clara lags behind other cities in providing more micro services such as laundry, portable showers and toilets and a way for the homeless to charge their phones, saying such support is essential if these people are expected to work. The rest of the Council supported his ideas.
“If we can get housing up and going, I am sure we can get water, electricity and toilets up and running too,” Council Member Kevin Park said.
ManCo Requests Non-NFL Event Manager
Strife between the Stadium Authority Board and the manager at Levi’s Stadium also continued to flourish as the stadium manager requested new positions at the stadium. A consent item pulled from the consent calendar resulted in the Board funding new positions at Levi’s Stadium despite objections from Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Executive Director Deanna Santana.
A supposedly routine item to approve a competitive bid process to seek a manager for non-NFL events at the stadium evolved into a debate about whether to spend $650,000 to add high-level positions at the stadium.
Several concerns with the request gave Santana pause. With three years of no revenue and a projected shortfall as much as $600,000 for the next year, Santana told the Council approving the positions would “severely weaken” stadium authority employees authority and encourage ManCo’s “poor behavior.”
“Your action needs to consider whether adding public funds, with no guarantee of a favorable turnaround strategy, which we’ve asked for, is the prudent thing to do,” she said.
Stadium Authority Counsel Brian Doyle and Santana maintain that the Forty Niners Management Company (ManCo) violated state laws on prevailing wage and conflict of interest, which justified the Board’s termination of the management agreement. The matter is being settled by the court.
Against protestations, Board Member Anthony Becker moved to approve the positions, but agreed to have a performance report come before the Board in a year. The motion passed 4-2 with Gillmor and Board Member Kathy Watanabe voting “no.”
Consent Calendar Spending
The Council approved the following consent calendar items in a single motion:
- A one-year $60,220 agreement with TMC Shooting Ranges Specialists, Inc. to provide lead remediation services, with an option for four one-year extensions.
- A three-year $305,205 participation agreement with WaterSmart Customer Engagement and Conservation Program with Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency.
- An increase to a contract with HouseKeys to provide below market purchase programs from $581,250 to $701,250.
- A $76,803 increase to an agreement with HSQ Technology for the MISER supervisory control and data acquisition. The contract amount is now $574,481.
- A $209,702 purchase order to LRG Technologies, Inc. DBA Mobile Pro Systems to purchase four Mobile Pro Falcon 3100 trailers.
- A three-year $49,500 agreement with Plexus Global LLC for employee background screening services.
- A three-year $750,000 agreement with ACCO Engineered Systems, Inc. for mechanical and plumbing maintenance and repair services.
The Council also continued a pulled consent calendar item that was a $66,000 contract extension with Moore Iacofano Goltsman (MIG) for professional services to prepare the Freedom Circle Focus Area Plan and related environmental review. The contract amount is now $761,635. The Council continued the item to its next meeting.
Although it pulled the item for discussion, the Council eventually unanimously approved a three-year $342,000 contract with Carl Warren & Company for 125 liability claims adjusting and related administrative services; an additional $850 is to be paid for each additional claim.
Council Member Karen Hardy was absent.
The next regularly scheduled meeting is Tuesday, Sept. 7 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