Congratulations to Santa Clara.
Congratulations to SummerHill development.
And congratulations to our City Council who finally accepted a new development project on the El Camino.
SummerHill received approval Tuesday night for their El Camino project at McCormick Drive.
It is not a huge project and it is a good start considering we have been in a development drought for the past year.
This is good news for our schools who receive a healthy cash infusion from new development projects. While property taxes provide an underlying funding for school budgets, it is new projects that generate funds for our school capital improvements.
During and following the Great Recession, a number of projects were approved which were a significant boom to our City. However, the current climate at City Council and the public has castigated contractors over the concept of new construction in our City.
The looming structural deficits in our City budget have now ballooned to the forefront of Council Members’ minds. They are now seeking (imagine this) new revenue streams to seal up the sagging sack of sheckles that have vanished from our reserves.
The unofficial moratorium on new development is now coming back to haunt them…and us.
When you consider the loss of the Irvine Project at El Camino and Benton, and the projects put on hold like Moonlite Center, Mariani’s and City Place, it is staggering.
Add to that the new restrictions on the stadium and there should be no question why the Council is looking for new revenue.
You would have to wonder why this Council didn’t approve a weeknight curfew extention for concerts at the stadium. These concerts would have brought Santa Clara seven or eight hundred thousand dollars in one night.
That kind of money doesn’t come easily, particulary when you consider that a new development project takes three to four years to complete.
If the current issues of our budget weren’t enough, they definitely have not figured out a way to deal with our growing pension deficit. Of course it is only about $700,000,000. This year our Council made a $7 million contribution to the pension deficit. That is like paying only part of the interest on your credit card.
Does our Council have a plan?
We have not been able to identify one.
The only way out of this hole is to grow our way out. Since there is no land left in Santa Clara, it means we are going to have to grow…up. It is going to take billions of new development over the next decade to pay our obligations. Higher density developments are the only rereasonable alternative.
Since residents are opposed to new multi-story high density projects, that probably won’t happen.
Without new projects, the only plausible action is to raise taxes and reduce services.
Since few people think ahead no farther than “what’s for dinner,” the reality of these draconian actions don’t seem possible.
Perhaps all you need to do is think about it with objectivity.
We need leadership with the vision and toughness to act in our collective best interests.
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