Throughout July, August and September, Santa Clara City Council Members were quite busy, attending dozens of community events and public meetings. While their effort to be present within the community is respectable, it’s their closed door and one-on-one meetings where handshake deals and puzzling encounters occur.
The most notable meetings happen when Council Members meet with political consultant and Related Companies’ lobbyist Jude Barry. Barry, who has kept himself entangled in Santa Clara politics since the San Francisco 49ers hired him obtain Council and community support for the Measure J campaign—and was heavily involved in San Jose politics prior—continues to meet with Council regarding issues that do not pertain to his employer’s currently stalled City Place project. In fact, Barry has tried to distance himself from Related with these meetings and is often listed as Chief Executive Officer of Catapult Strategies, his consulting company. In July, August and September Barry had one meeting a month with Council Member Teresa O’Neill—once on July 12 about the stadium audit, another on Aug. 18 regarding transportation and a third on Sept. 29 regarding transportation, none of which have any connection to his work with Related. His fourth meeting with the Council Member was on Sept. 25, and that particular meeting was regarding the City Place project.
Although three of Barry’s meetings with O’Neil were unrelated to Related, he did have one phone call with Related executive Steve Eimer and Mayor Lisa Gillmor on Aug. 16. Eimer and Gillmor spoke on July 7 about the project and Eimer and Related executives Steve Ross and Ken Himmel spoke about the project on Sept. 21. Eimer had two phone calls with Vice Mayor Dominic Caserta in regard to City Place on Sept. 11 and 19. Eimer also had a meeting with O’Neill on Sept. 25 about City Place and associated litigation.
Community activist Kirk Vartan showed up on Gillmor’s calendar. Vartan, who owns a business on the border of Santa Clara and San Jose, recently converted his dining establishment to a worker co-op and, along with his wife and partner Marguerite Lee, met with the Mayor on Aug. 18 about the transition. In September, Vartan attended a Sept. 6 meeting with O’Neill and Santa Clara Unified School District’s Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Kathie Kanavel and Secondary Curriculum and Instruction Director Laurie Stapleton regarding the district’s urban agriculture plans.
Prometheus, which purchased the former Moonlite Lanes property at 2780 El Camino Real last year, has previously been unable to sway Council to approve a housing project at the site and continues to check in with Council in an attempt to find the key to obtaining enough votes to begin developing the shuttered site. President Marilyn Ponte and Executive Vice President Jon Moss had meetings with O’Neill on Aug. 25 and Council Member Patricia Mahan on July 25. On Aug. 29, Prometheus submitted a new plan to Council, proposing a three-story, 58 townhome complex. The proposal requires a General Plan amendment for the property to change from being Regional Mixed Use to Medium Density Residential. At the Aug. 29 Council meeting, the new proposal was approved for the City Manager to continue processing the General Plan Amendment Application.
With regard to the City Manager, each Council Member had at least one meeting with newly appointed City Manager Deanna Santana, who recently stepped into the position vacated by Rajeev Batra.
Finally, SummerHill showed up on Council calendars for the first time since June, with executives Katia Kamanger and Elaine Breeze along with consultant Cynthia James meeting with Council Member Pat Kolstad on Sept. 25 regarding the project at the Mayuri Indian Cuisine site. The trio and SummerHill executive Joe Head also met O’Neill on the same day, two hours after O’Neil met with Sam Kumar, Mayuri’s owner and resident David Donaldson regarding “city issues.” The meeting with O’Neill was not only about the SummerHill project, but also the Prometheus development at Moonlite Lanes. SummerHill’s 151-unit senior housing development was unanimously approved at the Oct. 24 Council meeting.
Since current Council took office in November of 2016, Related Companies or Barry has met with Council 23 times regarding the City Place project, Barry has met with Council Members 11 times about topics not associated with City Place, Prometheus has had 16 meetings with Council Members, SummerHill had 15 regarding the El Camino Real project and Vartan has met with Council—often in conjunction with others and regarding a variety of topics—12 times.
View Santa Clara Council Member calendars http://santaclaraca.gov/government/public-calendars-of-certain-city-officials
Editors Note: What’s noticeably missing from the Mayor’s calendar are her extensive meetings with Banner Public Affairs and company principle Peter Hillan. See coverage here.