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Planning Commission Approves Another Data Center, Questions Future of Data Center Projects

The Santa Clara Planning Commission denied an appeal against a Data Center. They also approved the Verizon Wireless Telecommunication Facility.

On Jan. 27, the Santa Clara Planning Commission welcomed its newest member, Commissioner Qian Huang. Huang fills one of the two empty seats currently on the Planning Commission.

The seats were vacated when Suds Jain and Anthony Becker were elected to Santa Clara’s City Council in November 2020. The City is still waiting on an update on when the final spot will be filled.

 

Appeal Against Data Center on Comstock Street Dismissed, Plans Approved with Conditions

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The Planning Commission has dismissed an appeal against the Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) for the data center project at 1111 Comstock Street. It also approved the plans for the data center with conditions.

A group called the Santa Clara Citizens for Sensible Industry appealed the MND, saying it failed to look at the 4-story, 121,170 sq. ft. data center’s potential impacts on air quality, greenhouse gas emissions and public health. The group asked for an Environmental Impact Report on the project.

City staff summarized a response to the appeal saying that the air quality impact is “less than significant” based on Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) regulations. It also said greenhouse gas emissions were “less than significant” based largely on Silicon Valley Power’s mix and the project’s energy efficiency measures.

After discussion, commissioners unanimously denied the appeal of the MND. However, several commissioners brought up concerns about too many data centers in Santa Clara.

“I’ve asked staff in the past, where is our threshold?” said Commissioner Priya Cherukuru. “We’re talking energy. We’re talking water. We’re talking noise. We’re talking gas from all the generators and power outage is more of a reality now than it was in the past ever…I probably have cloud storage of everything, while I appreciate that, I’m just not appreciative of the City of Santa Clara being the backyard for these massive data centers.”

The Commissioners unanimously approved the plans for the data center “…with additional condition regarding improved aesthetics to be approved by city staff with more volumetric distinction and more color and upper floors to have a less massive data center.”

Several commissioners complained that the design of the data center was too “boxy.”

 

New Verizon Wireless Telecommunication Facility on Richard Avenue Approved

In other business, the Planning Commission approved a permit to install a new, unmanned, 70-foot monopine Verizon Wireless telecommunication facility at 0 Richard Avenue.

Commissioners approved the use permit with the amendment that any trees removed by the developer would be replaced at a 2:1 ratio as required by the City’s general plan. City staff says the developer has agreed to the condition but asked that the tree replacement be allowed off-site because onsite trees could interfere with the telecommunications equipment.

Commissioner Ricci Herro was absent from Wednesday’s meeting. He was unanimously excused by the other commissioners.

The next Planning Commission meeting is Wednesday, Feb. 24.

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