Prometheus Real Estate Group, developers of a high-density housing development — on the site where Moonlite Lanes used to be located, will get another six weeks to address neighborhood concerns surrounding the project.
The topic came up at Tuesday night’s Council meeting, where Jon Moss, executive vice president with Prometheus, based out of San Mateo, told the Council his company needed more time to do community outreach. He said the community meetings with the neighbors in August and the meeting where the Santa Clara Planning Commission discussed the project were not well-attended.
“There is a fair amount of confusion on the topic, and we would love to be able to attempt to clarify some of the issues that are misunderstood,” Moss said.
The continuance was originally set to be pushed back to the Jan. 24 meeting. However, Vice Mayor Teresa O’Neill raised concern over whether the development was in line with the city’s vision for redeveloping El Camino Real.
City Manager Rajeev Batra said the city has received three bids on the revamp of El Camino Real, and the process should be completed in three to six months.
“Every time we approve a project without approving that plan, we are getting farther from the description,” she said.
The housing development would require the Council to amend the general plan to change the property’s zoning designation to make way for the five-story, 158-apartment complex.
Councilmembers Kathy Watanabe, Pat Kolstad and Debi Davis all said they agreed with O’Neill’s assessment that continuing the proposal to Jan. 24 did not give Prometheus enough time to adequately address the concerns of the neighbors.
Davis called the problem a “communication issue,” adding that, while the city needs retail, it also needs “proper,” “sustainable” housing.
“We really need to step back and take a better look at this,” she said.
During public comments, ten people spoke out against the continuance, many of whom said they feared Prometheus would alter the project in a way that would be unfavorable to those near the development. Some implored the Council to deny the project if Prometheus was not ready to present it at Tuesday meeting following the discussion.
“We are seeing the developer request after continuance to continuance, and everytime they come back, it is worse than before,” said Hosam Haggag, a Santa Clara resident. “There is a lot of angst in the community and sentiment that the developer is not working in good faith.”
Haggag said the request for a continuance is an attempt to “wear out” those who oppose the apartment complex, and that Prometheus will expect to return to the Council after the continuance and expect a “rubber stamp” of approval on the project.
Council mainstay Deborah Bress said if Prometheus was unwilling to present the project at the meeting, the Council should deny the development despite Prometheus having “contributed to the campaigns of certain people.”
Councilmember Patricia Mahan took issue with Bress’s intimation about campaign contributions, noting that Prometheus gave money to her November opponents.
Councilmember Dominic Caserta assured the public that “Your voice is being heard on this Council,” and called the development a “net positive” for Santa Clara.
Anthony Becker, a resident of Santa Clara and recent City Council candidate, also opposed the continuance, saying, “If a teacher says your paper is due, it is due.”
The Council unanimously approved a continuance until its Feb. 21 meeting.