An expansion plan that would replace an existing surface parking lot with a 22-story, 319-room hotel was given an okay to begin the General Plan amendment process.
At its Tuesday night meeting, the Santa Clara City Council considered the substantial addition to the Hilton Hotel, located 4949 Great America Pkwy. The 3.86-acre parcel faces Levi’s Stadium.
Erich Smith, Vice President of Operations for Stanford Hotels, which purchased the existing 280-room hotel more than 15 years ago, said the rooftop restaurant and observation deck will not have overhead views of events at the stadium.
Although the proposed floor area ratio — the usable area relative to the building’s lot — exceeds City policy, the Council still gave it the okay.
Dennis Rogers, Principal Designer with ACRM Architects, said since the expansion is not near residential neighborhoods, negative impact will be minimal. Further, Rogers said, the added hotel rooms will generate much-needed transient occupancy tax revenue for the City.
Kenn Lee, the City’s Finance Director, told the Council that transient occupancy tax is likely to suffer greatly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, dropping by an estimated 50 percent — a $2.5 million loss.
Mayor Advocates For Food Service Workers
Mayor Lisa Gillmor also petitioned to have the Council consider whether to amend the City’s worker retention ordinance.
The ordinance regulates food and building service employees, requiring employers to notify and retain them for at least three months whenever the business changes contracts. In place since 2017, the ordinance came into being following a food and beverage contract renewal at Levi’s Stadium.
Now, Mayor Gillmor wants the Council to revisit the regulations, requiring similar protections for workers laid off, put on furlough or who return to work under a new employer. Her proposal, she said, “will help add on more protections to help our community,” especially in industries like the hotel heavily impacted by the pandemic.
Sarah McDermot, Political Director at Unite Here Local 19, which represents hospitality workers, applauded Gillmor’s suggestion.
“Hospitality industry workers, many of whom live in Santa Clara, are struggling to pay their rent and feed their families,” she said. “It is imperative you enact a worker recall requirement.”
The item will return to the Council at its Oct. 13 meeting.
Reclaiming Downtown Group Lobbies To Move Courthouse
The Council also voted to discuss moving the courthouse, located at 1095 Homestead Rd., at a future meeting. The request to put the item on a future agenda came from Dan Ondrasek, from the civic group Reclaiming Our Downtown.
Most of the discussion focused on returning a downtown to Santa Clara.
“That building is the only thing standing in the way of Santa Clara beginning with a six-block downtown versus a two-block downtown; a two-block downtown is a mall,” Ondrasek said. “We deserve better than a mall.”
The motion failed 3-2 — it needed 4 votes to pass — with Council Members Raj Chahal, Teresa O’Neil and Vice Mayor Karen Hardy voting “yes,” and Council Members Kathy Watanabe and Davis voting “no.” Mayor Lisa Gillmor abstained from the discussion and vote since her office is near the site.
City Manager Deanna Santana told the Council that her office is continuing to look into programs both to assist residents dealing with coronavirus, such as its meal delivery program, as well as programs to generate money for the City. The latter effort showed up slightly in the consent calendar with several budget items for the Council to accept money the City received through grants.
Also, many of the City’s boards and commissions have resumed following its month-long hiatus.
On another note, Lisa Shoenthal, Chief Emergency Services Officer, said Santa Clara’s coronavirus case total, as of the latest figures, is 711. She also told the Council that the county has already started with more stringent penalties for those who caught not social distancing or wearing a mask in public. Those tickets could cost residents anywhere between $25 and $500.
Through the consent calendar the Council extended the City’s moratorium on evictions. With the expiration of the statewide eviction moratorium Aug. 14, the City extended its moratorium through the end of September.
The Council also approved the following contracts:
- A $266,000 increase to an agreement with the Permanente Medical Group, Inc. for professional medical services for public safety employees for a revised not-to-exceed maximum compensation of $600,000.
- A $637,636 contract with Woodard and Curran, Inc. for sanitary sewer hydraulic modeling as-needed support.
- A $2.92 million contract with Rosendin Electric, Inc., for citywide emergency generator replacement.
At a meeting Monday night, the Council also appointed two new members to the Parks and Recreation Commission: Kelly Gonzalez and Derrick Carter-House. The two will serve until June 30, 2024. The Council also appointed Dana Caldwell to the eligibility list until June 30, 2021. Should someone resign before that time, Caldwell would step in.
The Council meets again Tuesday, Aug. 25 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
For those without the above access, the City cafeteria has been set up to accommodate up to 10 people at a time and public comment will be given from that location.
Editor’s Note: This article was corrected to fix two errors. One regarding the Hilton Hotel and another regarding moving the courthouse.