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General Plan Altered for Massive Housing Development

During the June 7 City Council meeting, the Santa Clara City Council approved an amendment to the General Plan to create a new housing designation, “very high residential.” Council members also voted to sell Loyalton Ranch and declined to place a petition by resident and former City Attorney Brian Doyle on a future agenda.

The Santa Clara City Council has created a new general plan designation to make way for a behemoth housing development. At its meeting Tuesday night, the Council approved making a 13.3-acre site “very high residential,” a previously non-existent designation to accommodate a 1,100-apartment complex.

Also known as the Greystar development, the project will be part of the Freedom Circle Focus Area — bound by Great America Parkway to the west, Mission College Boulevard to the north, San Tomas Aquino Creek to the east and Highway 101 to the south.

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The site is mostly industrial and office space, but the City plans to develop the site more in the future. The new General Plan designation increases the Greystar project’s capacity to 51-100 dwelling units per acre. It will allow for three seven-story buildings on the site along with a two-acre park.

“These intensified land uses will support future economic development while also providing long-term capacity for new housing development,” said Andrew Crabtree, Community Development Director.

The Council opted to tweak the thresholds of below-market-rate apartments, opting to mirror the Patrick Henry Focus Area Plan by requiring that rents for 5% of the apartments be set at 50% area median income (AMI), 5% set at 80% AMI and 5% set at 120% AMI.

The Council unanimously approved the General Plan amendment and the project.

City To Sell Loyalton Ranch – Finally

After much back-and-forth, repeated continuances and debating, the Council finally took a big step in selling its Loyalton Ranch property. The item was an ongoing kick-the-can-down-the-road situation after the election of a new Council last year.

Fire razed a lion’s share of Loyalton Ranch, located near the Nevada-California border, in 2021. With 90% of the ranch destroyed, its viability as grazing land — which is what it had previously been used for since its acquisition in the 1970s with the help of Mayor Lisa Gillmor’s father and former Santa Clara Mayor, Gary Gillmor — was greatly hindered, causing the City to reduce the amount of money it collected from grazing rights.

Selling the property caused a familiar rift between the Council, with Gillmor and political ally Kathy Watanabe opposing the sale while the others supported it. Gillmor and Watanabe offered little in the way of substantive arguments for keeping the property except to appeal to tradition.

“Land is valuable no matter where it is,” Watanabe said. “It is a very, very big mistake to sell this property. The City doesn’t sell property. It leases property…if it is going to be an asset for someone, I would like it to be an asset for Santa Clara.”

Council Member Suds Jain has been particularly vocal about getting the property off the City’s books.

“It is a terrible investment,” said Jain. “If we took the money and invested it, we would get more money than we are getting from grazing rights.”

During the presentation Tuesday, Manuel Pineda, Chief Electric Utility Officer, told the Council that an appraisal values the 10,270-acre land at $4.37 million. Gillmor reiterated her previous comments, saying the City received an offer from a buyer willing to offer $10 million in 2017 or 2018.

Gillmor has never offered evidence substantiating the offer. Records requests by The Weekly to verify the offer were returned with the City disclosing that no such offer existed.

Now that the Council has declared the land surplus, it must take no action on the property for 60 days before noticing it to buyers who then have 90 days to negotiate in good faith with the City.

Although Council Member Kevin Park joined Gillmor and Watanabe in voting “no” to declare the land surplus, the motion still passed 4-3.

Public Petition Defeated

A petition by Brian Doyle — the City’s former city attorney who the Council fired last year — failed to gain traction with the Council. Doyle requested that the Council place an item on a future agenda to discuss a Fair Political Practice Commission complaint against Council Member Park.

Doyle’s petition claims discrepancies in government filings, saying that Park claimed to have a job but reported no income. The Council stood with City Attorney James Sanchez who advised the Council to avoid engaging publicly with Doyle until the litigation — regarding the circumstances surrounding his termination — Doyle has brought against the City is resolved.

While Council Member Watanabe and Mayor Gillmor opposed dismissing the petition presented by Doyle, the remainder of Council voted to do so.

The Council also approved the climate action plan and maintenance district agreements, one for the Santa Clara Convention Center and another at Franklin Square.

Consent Calendar Spending

The following spending was approved in one motion via the consent calendar:

  • A one-year $53,493 contract with Pestmaster Services, L.P. for citywide pest control maintenance.
  • A $150,000 amendment to agreement with Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley for minor repairs.
  • A $2.87 million two-year extension to an agreement with the California Highway Patrol for traffic management at Levi’s Stadium. Total contract amount is now $11.3 million.
  • $9,425 from the Stadium Authority Capital Expense Reserve for command post window treatment.
  • $59,351 from the Stadium Authority Capital Expense Reserve to install non-slip floor mats.
  • $206,800 from the Stadium Authority Capital Expense Reserve for a lift station project.
  • $111,958 from the Stadium Authority Capital Expense Reserve for mechanical and electrical closet lighting.
  • $18,945 from the Stadium Authority Capital Expense Reserve for rust prevention.
  • $65,059 from the Stadium Authority Capital Expense Reserve for loading dock lightning.
  • A $514,298 increase to agreement with Cupertino Electric, Inc. for primary main switchgear transformer, battery and main circuit breakers, electrical power study, assessment and replacement at primary switchgear at quadrant substations.

The next regularly scheduled meeting is Tuesday, June 21 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.

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