Last week, Santa Clara Weekly Associate Editor Carolyn Schuk wrote a factual report about the community’s reaction to the Community Grant Policy, which asks local nonprofits to pay for their use of City-owned facilities or apply for a grant — something they never did in the past. Many community groups have been negatively affected by this new policy. Several community members — including a Council Member — contributed their thoughts to that article.
According to a letter from the Office of the City Manager addressed to the “Santa Clara Community,” our article was “inaccurate and misleading” — the letter was shared on NextDoor, copies were distributed at Santa Clara Senior Center, and it will be shared in the City Manager’s bi-weekly blog.
“The new policy eliminated time-consuming bureaucratic processes which forced community groups to write a petition, get a staff report and testify before the Council several times to get a waiver,” the letter stated. “Often times the community requests were for a relatively small amount of money relative to the amount of time and money it cost them to go through the old procedure. It also required several Council meetings to get approved.”
However, despite the letter’s fanciful description of a formal process, who actually followed this process?
In reality, which we operate in, this new policy replaces a non-existent process. Santa Clara residents who give their time through their nonprofit work, were understandably confused and frustrated by a City policy that hurt their bottom line — helping the community of Santa Clara by donating proceeds directly to City services. Our report, and the response to the report, reflects the community’s thoughts.
We agree, this old process doesn’t work. However, this new one isn’t very popular either. As almost every Council Member stated at the Jan. 15 meeting, something needs to change. We concur. Interestingly, this letter provides useful insight into the process. Perhaps a less defensive version of this letter would have been useful when the policy was first enacted.
As for Milestones, those who are familiar with the Santa Clara Weekly’s history knows that Milestones is an opinion column written by Miles Barber, Publisher of the Santa Clara Weekly — a Santa Clara resident who is also involved in several Santa Clara nonprofits. As a resident, he is also allowed his own opinion, like any other resident.
Here is the full letter from the Office of the City Manager.
And here is our response that we sent to the City after receiving the letter:
Thank you for the press release. As a community paper, we are simply a sounding-board for community members and residents. Our article written by Carolyn Schuk reflects the sentiments by those frustrated and confused by the new process; and quite frankly the old process that nobody seemed to know about.
In fact, we cover the Council meetings and [prior to the new policy] do not recall ever seeing, for instance, the [Mission City Community Fund] going to Council asking for use of its meeting room at the Police Station.
We’re pleased our article has opened up communications between the City and residents to clarify this process. Miles Barber is also a resident of Santa Clara with his own opinion that just happened to be the same as those community members that reached out to the Weekly.