In the mayor’s words, the El Camino Real Specific Plan is “back to the drawing board” after the Council voted to pursue hiring a consultant to develop the plan but keep the existing plan on the table. The item returned yet again after the Council agreed to most elements of the plan back in June. However, details regarding the density have proved divisive.
The Council previously opted to have City employees return with a plan to lower the density, but when the item returned in September, public outcry surrounding a proposed project at 1601 Civic Center Drive derailed the conversation, causing the Council to push the item to Tuesday night’s agenda.
This time around, the Council opted to move forward with re-doing the specific plan, with a few amendments that allow for the original plan to remain an option. The Council approved spending $900,000 on the option that provided lower density. That plan also codifies objective design standards and provides three, as opposed to the current two, general plan designations.
Several of those who spoke during public comments, many of whom are housing lobbyists, said they support the amended plan but would like the original plan to remain an option. Several speakers supported increased density.
“This is part of solving the housing crisis,” said Alex Shoor, with Catalyze SV. “It is not that shadows aren’t important. It is not that traffic is not important. It is just that housing people is more important.”
The vote on the motion was 4-3 with Mayor Lisa Gillmor, Councilmember Kathy Watanabe and Vice Mayor Raj Chahal voting “no.” The plan will take between two and three years to complete.
Items To Be Placed On Future Agendas
On a similar note, the Council opted, in response to a written petition, to consider securing the lot at 1601 Civic Center Drive. The petition, which seems aimed at blocking the proposed high-density project slated to be built there, asked the Council to consider purchasing the lot and placing a park on it.
The 1.4-acre plot would likely cost the City between $7 and $11 million, according to Councilmember Suds Jain. He and Councilmember Karen Hardy did not support the motion to place the item on a future agenda, but it passed anyway, despite Chahal’s absence due to a potential conflict of interest.
The Council also considered other items to be placed on future agendas.
Jain placed an item for consideration that would oppose a quarry and gravel project at Sargent Ranch, also called Juristac. The area is a cherished Native American site.
“The protection of Juristac is a critical matter of cultural and spiritual survival for our tribe,” said Valentin Lopez, Chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band. “We cannot allow it to be desecrated. We have lost far too many sacred sites already.”
The motion passed 6-1, with Hardy voting “no.”
Because of reduced employees at City Hall, City Manager Deanna Santana said she would not be able to return with the items within 30 days, as is Council policy. Consequently, the Council continued six other petitions to be considered for future agendas to its priority setting session, typically held at the end of January or early February.
Eminent Domain Process Continues to Chug Along
The Council voted unanimously to take the next step in the eminent domain process to secure land needed for transmission lines for Silicon Valley Power. The parcels in question are all on Martin Avenue. The first, located at 999 Martin Ave., is a 1,774 square foot easement, and the second easement runs through 1199 and 1061 Martin Ave.
Manuel Pineda, the City’s Utility Officer, said the land is needed for the project, which has already secured the majority of the 37 parcels to make the transmission line project work.
Negotiations have gone on for a year and a half, he said, and will continue. SVP has offered the property owners, Pollock Enterprises and 1065 Martin Ave. LLC, fair market value but has been unable to come to an agreement. The eminent domain process takes roughly two years to complete.
Consent Calendar Spending
The Council approved the following spending from the consent calendar:
- A 3-year $1.06 million contract with Impark for event parking at the Santa Clara Convention Center
- Two 5-year, $10 million contracts with RWG, USA and Aero Limited for gas turbine engine parts supply and field and depot services
- A $14,614 contract with R.E. Cuddle Co. for removal, disposal and replacement of turf in tunnels at Levi’s Stadium and another $55.955 for installation of athletic flooring in the tunnels
- Purchase orders for Levi’s Stadium: $4,365 to Cintas for guest services uniforms, $3,367 to Twin Hill for guest services uniforms, $71,274 to Fastenal for mats, $9,425 to MGC DBA Mission Glass for window tinting
- $2,300 for an employee in the stadium manager’s office to attend VenuesNow in Seattle, $4,550 for two employees to attend Billboard Live Music Summit in Los Angeles, $2,650 for two employees to attend Gridiron Stadium Network Annual Meeting, and $9,000 for up to six client meetings. Total to be spent through March 2022: $18,500
The next regularly scheduled meeting is Tuesday, Oct. 26 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
Alex Shoor is just another developer lobbyist, traffic, parks, schools, libraries are important to quality of life. We need to build wisely, not just pile people into one place.