The Silicon Valley Voice

Power To Your Voice

Low-Income Housing Complex Gets Green Light 

The Santa Clara City Council voted to approve plans for a low-income housing project on Civic Center Drive. It approved the purchase of new equipment for Silicon Valley Power (SVP) and the City’s sewer services. The Council also debated whether the City has to help pay for new grass at Levi’s Stadium even though the contract stipulates it does.

Santa Clara has taken another step in its crusade to add to its housing stock for low-income families.

At its Tuesday night meeting, the Santa Clara City Council approved building the 106-below-market-rate apartment complex. Every apartment in the complex, which features studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments, is between 30% and 50% area median income, meaning a one-bedroom apartment will range from $900/month to $2,250/month.

A variety of sources, mostly state tax credits, are funding the project, located at 1601 Civic Center Dr. In 2018, the City set aside $1.6 million into its Affordable Housing Capital Fund to help pay for the project, approving the remainder of its $5.4 million contribution Tuesday.

Developed by Charities Housing, the $104.6 million complex will be ready to house tenants in October 2026.

“This is on the right track, so we have to get it while we can,” said Mayor Lisa Gillmor.

No members of the public opposed the project. The Council approved the project in a 5-0 vote.

SVP Equipment Approved

The Council also approved $30.1 million in purchase orders for equipment for Silicon Valley Power (SVP).

Kenn Lee, director of finance, told the Council that the items are for an inventory of equipment for SVP and the City’s sewer service that ensure a continuity of service year-round. In addition to maintaining daily service, Lee said, the equipment contributes to necessary construction for SVP.

The first, with Trayer Engineering, was for $14.87 million for switches for distribution. The second, with Okonite Corp., was for $7.26 million in cables for distribution. The third, for 18 transformers, cost $2.79 million and was with Fleming Electric, Inc. The last two have not had bidders but are capacitor banks and 66 more transformers, costing $4.44 million and $788, 682 respectively.

The Council approved the purchase orders unanimously.

Public Commenter Prompts Examination of Lobbyist Ordinance

After a lambasting during public comments, Council Member Anthony Becker called for City employees to list the “special advisor to the mayor” as a lobbyist.

Kirk Vartan, a frequent Council commentator, is the only person designated as the mayor’s “special advisor (on worker co-ops). Becker called for the examination of the City’s lobbyist ordinance after a public commentator identifying themself as “Lee” chastised Becker for his “unethical behavior.”

The commenter claimed that Becker continues to “disgrace” the Council by not recusing himself on 49ers-related matters after being accused of leaking the confidential grand jury report to the media and the team.

“Lee” also alluded to work that he had done with Tom Shanks, an ethics consultant. Vartan has frequently used Shanks’s condemnations of Becker’s behavior during presentations and has been vocal about collaborating with Shanks.

One of the so-called “unethical” behaviors of which “Lee” accused Becker was making use of anonymity for political purposes.

The Council did not refer the matter to the City Manager’s office because it did not get the necessary votes. It failed 3-2, with Council Member Kathy Watanabe and Gillmor voting “no.” Council Members Raj Chahal and Kevin Park were absent.

Grass Replacement at Stadium Sore Subject for Council

A contract for resodding at Levi’s Stadium proved divisive. The item originally appeared as a routine item on the consent calendar, but proved contentious after Watanabe pulled it for discussion, saying there “has been a lot of questions and concerns.”

The three-year, $1.82 million contract rubbed Watanabe and Gillmor the wrong way. Watanabe wanted to know what assurance the public has that the money paid in the contract would go toward sod replacement and not groundskeeping in 2026.

Gillmor demanded to know the numbers on how frequently the sod at Levi’s Stadium had been replaced and how much money the City had put into it over the years. She said the field replacement is the “responsibility of the team” since non-NFL events do not contribute to the need for the field being replaced.

According to the lease agreement, the City is responsible for 30% of such costs, but Gillmor insisted that the frequency of replacement and the “lack of transparency” of the resodding is an issue.

Consent Calendar Spending

  • $34.6 million in budget amendments to the operating budget for Levi’s Stadium.
  • A $220,201 purchase order with EyeP Solutions, Inc. for AXIS cameras for Levi’s Stadium.
  • A $95,000 agreement with CWS Construction Group, Inc to replace an overhead door and motor, sensor and tracks at Levi’s Stadium.
  • A $6,953 increase to the Cooling Towers project with United Mechanical, Inc.; total agreement amount: $136,038.

Park and Chahal were absent.

The next regularly scheduled meeting is Tuesday, Dec. 5 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; Meeting ID: 997-0675-9306 or call 1(669) 900-6833, via the City’s eComment (available during the meeting) or by email to

  1. Buchser Alum 5 months ago

    I am happy to see that the civic center housing project is moving forward. We need more affordable housing.
    I do not understand the thinking behind Becker’s motion about Kirk Vartan. Kirk Vartan is a prominent political voice in his opposition to Becker and his allies in council. But that does not make him a lobbyist. He does not appear to lobby for anything that has to do with the business he shares with his other cooperative partners.
    The only thing I know that he lobbied for is for higher density housing and a preservation of agricultural usage on the former UC agriculture facility on Winchester.

  2. SC Resident 5 months ago

    I’m no fan of Kirk Vartan, given his previous promotion of San Jose “urban villages” (developer handouts) and work with pro-developer group Catalyze SV, but it does seem that Becker is using his position to unfairly beat up on Vartan. Sure, it’s lame that he calls himself a “special advisor”, but I don’t think that rises to the level of being a lobbyist.

  3. SC Resident 5 months ago

    Glad to see some on council asking questions about sod replacement expenses at Levi’s stadium. Councilmembers need to do their due diligence, especially when the tenant has little motivation to help preserve the field conditions if the city is paying for replacement.

  4. Mike 5 months ago

    No one from the public, including local residents, was informed about the initiation of this voting. It was held in secret to push this project through without informing anyone nearby. Shame on the local authorities for conducting such shady deals! Public was consistently against this charity house from the beginning!

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