There was a time, not so long ago, a culture existed in Santa Clara which has eroded over time. For many years, Santa Clara was the home of business. Look around you folks. You arrived years after Owens-Corning, Intel, Applied Micro and dozens of other companies had come to Santa Clara.
Initially driven by City Manager Don Von Raesfeld, the emphasis on business and industry drove Santa Clara’s economy. Santa Clara was the place. The place where businesses wanted to be because Santa Clara had an absence of bureaucratic red tape.
City employees were encouraged to find ways to help and assist. They felt part of the process and realized they were there to assist businesses in getting plans approved, projects permitted, and their buildings built on schedule.
This culture is what made Santa Clara the home of the giants of industry.
Business leaders would say to one another, “If you want to do business in the area, you want to be in Santa Clara.”
Then, over the years, the culture of “business first,” began to erode. The build-out of Santa Clara with housing and apartments created competition for what little ground was left. Santa Clara was criticized by its neighboring cities for not providing enough housing and only jobs. Folks commuted from neighboring cities where they lived, to Santa Clara where opportunities for work thrived.
Frankly, the tax dollars from business and industry is financially more rewarding for City coffers than residential property. Santa Clara City fathers and mothers knew this and capitalized on the cash cow produced by industry.
While industry prospered, Santa Clara was able to balance housing and schools with great aplomb. In addition, with the funds rolling in, they provided fringe benefits for residents. These included an international swim center, a convention center, major parks, our own low-cost power company, libraries and a host of services.
While all good things are said to come to an end, the recent election results indicate a renewed spirit of optimism with a fresh approach to growth.
No, not uncontrolled growth. Smart growth with a sense of renewed pride. We may see City employees who will be encouraged to help business, residential and industrial projects may get approved on time, developments that could deliver for residents, and risk-takers.
These actions are simply returning to the culture that made Santa Clara great in years past, being there to help and assist as opposed to finding ways to stall, delay and charge more. You have to love a city with a “find a way to make it happen” attitude.
Sometimes folks forget that City money comes primarily from business and industry. It is the source of Santa Clara’s ability to compete with neighboring cities and provide superb services for residents.
Congratulations Santa Clara. You have voted for a balanced government with a sense of the past and vision for the future.