Santa Clara’s City Council approved the Patrick Henry Drive Specific Plan and approved the redistricting map for the City following the 2020 Census results. The Council also heard from the civic group Reclaiming Our Downtown, which wants to return City Hall to downtown Santa Clara.
After four years of discussion, amendment, public outreach and planning, Santa Clara will finally get more housing near Patrick Henry Drive.
The Santa Clara City Council will alter the general plan to accommodate the Patrick Henry Specific Plan, the final draft of which came before the Council at its Tuesday night meeting. The plan aims to convert 62 acres of industrial land — located north of Mission College between Great America Parkway and Calabasas Creek — to urban mixed-use development.
The plan establishes new land-use designations in the area that will increase density to between 51 and 99 dwelling units per acre on the low end and between 120 and 250 dwelling units per acre near the plan’s center at the upper end. Building heights range from between 5 and 12 stories on the low end and as high as allowable by the Federal Aviation Association on the upper end.
Andrew Crabtree, Director of Community Development, said the shift in designation for the plan allows the City to keep pace with state requirements for housing, due next year. The plan allows for between 10,000 and 12,000 new residential units, but Crabtree said those numbers are the “theoretical maximum” and that half to roughly two-thirds capacity is more likely until the development reaches full swing.
The plan allots 10 acres of park space in addition to space carved out for community plazas, paseos, art and community rooms as well as a “potential” library, Crabtree said.
However, Lee Broughman, Santa Clara Library Board trustee, said the Council seemed to be under the impression the plan had one developer when there are at least five. Since there is no immediacy, she urged the Council to consider more specificity in regard to including a library in the plan.
Jan Hintermeister, also a library trustee, joined Broughman in her concern.
“There are really no specifics in the specific plan about amounts of library space,” he said.
The development of a shuttle service will aim to reduce the number of miles traveled by car by 20 percent. A Transportation Management Association (TMA) will handle operation of the shuttle service.
“The intent here is that it absolutely be possible to expand the TMA, and it is being set up that way, with that intent,” Crabtree said. “There is a recognition that particular developers, who are working in this specific plan area, have, really, an obligation … to do something locally.”
Further, as per a recommendation from the Planning Commission, the initial percent of below-market-rate housing — 15 percent at 80 percent area median income — increased to an even split of the 15 percent each at 50 percent, 80 percent and 120 percent area median income.
The plan amends the zoning code and the general plan designations in the specific plan.
Mayor Lisa Gillmor said she is “very proud” of the plan, calling it “aspirational.”
“I don’t want this to continue going on and nitpicking it,” she said. “Every time things are added on, it adds to the price of housing, and the price of housing is absurd. People can’t live here. The rents are so high. To purchase is so high. It has just gotten so out of control, and this is our way of really addressing the needs of so many people who need this product.”
Census Causes District Lines To Be Redrawn
The Council also adopted new boundaries for its six districts. As the law requires, cities need to redraw their district lines to correspond to shifts in demographics related to the Census. Previously, the Council established it would employ an independent redistricting committee toward that end. The redistricting committee presented its map Tuesday night, and the Council unanimously adopted it.
The Constitution requires cities adjust their districts for population equity, to be in line with the Voting Rights Act that ensures equal protection for protected classes and to avoid racial gerrymandering prior. Further, California law requires cities conduct public outreach before redistricting.
Districts must be set prior to April 17.
The seven-member board, selected randomly with a member representing each district and one at-large member, changed the boundary for four of the City’s six districts. The boundary between District 1 and District 2 shifted, and the boundary between Districts 4 and 5 also changed.
Because of shifts in demographics, the standard deviation between districts swelled to 14.4 percent, higher than the 10 percent allowable. The committee’s redistricting reduced that deviance to 7.2 percent.
Shuri Mirashi, Chair of the Redistricting Committee, said the group considered 15 maps before settling on the one submitted to the Council.
The law allows Council incumbents to serve the remainder of their term even if redistricting has them living outside the district where they were elected.
Reclaiming Our Downtown Urges Council To Rebuild City Hall
The civic group Reclaiming Our Downtown implored the Council to return Santa Clara’s downtown, including City Hall, to stimulate economic activity. During public presentations, Dan Ondrasek, with Reclaiming Our Downtown, presented to the Council the group’s reasoning for wanting to see City Hall return to its historic downtown.
While some property owners in the small stretch that used to be downtown are not ready to develop — something Ondradek called a “kick in the ribs” — Reclaiming Our Downtown still believes that progress can be made to reshape the downtown.
He said he is optimistic since the Council is “enthusiastic” toward the effort. However, he believes the question regarding the downtown needs to be shifted to consider where City Hall can be relocated to generate the needed revenue for the City.
By the group’s estimate, if the City goes another 40 years without completing the downtown, it will lose out on $7.2 billion in taxable income. The group’s proposal is predicated on three pillars: that private investment follows public investment, that building costs are reduced and an annual income is generated by a mixed-use City Hall and that a rejuvenation of the downtown will generate between $1.5 million and $2 million per year in revenue.
Ondrasek said he would like to see the Council make a motion to study how a downtown City Hall can invigorate the local economy.
Consent Calendar Spending
The Council approved the following spending via the consent calendar in a single motion:
- $158,000 for Design Professional Services with Iteris, Inc. for the Great America Parkway and Tasman Drive Traffic Signal Interconnect Project;
- A five-year $2.27 million agreement with Axon Enterprise, Inc. for the bundled purchase of body-worn cameras, conducted energy weapons and evidence.com for the Santa Clara Police Department;
- A five-year $439,294 contract with Axon Enterprise, Inc. for the purchase of body-worn cameras and evidence.com for the Santa Clara Stadium Authority;
- A five-year $754,915 agreement with R3 Consulting Group, Inc. for solid waste consulting services;
- A five-year $911,930 renewal of an enterprise program agreement with OSIsoft, LLC for additional services or addition of assets to the existing licenses for a total maximum authorization of $1.4 million;
- A $527,000 amendment to an agreement with Efficiency Services Group, LLC to administer the commercial parking lot and exterior lighting to Silicon Valley Power’s (SVP) small and mid-sized business customers; total maximum authorization of $1.52 million;
- A five-year $5 million agreement with C2R Engineering, Inc. and West Valley Construction Company for On Call Emergency Water & Sewer Utility Repairs, for the two master agreements.
The next regularly scheduled meeting is Tuesday, April 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 https://santaclaraca.zoom.us/j/99706759306; Meeting ID: 997-0675-9306 or call 1(669) 900-6833, via the City’s eComment (available during the meeting) or by email to PublicComment@santaclaraca.gov.