Only four commissioners were present at a Planning Commission meeting on Feb. 27 and as a result, decisions on several agenda items were held for the upcoming meeting on March 13. One item that was handled at the meeting was a vote taken, which placed Commissioner Yuki Ikezi as the body’s secretary. A vacant seat still remains on the commission that’s expected to be filled by City Council in April.
2232 El Camino Real
A 151-unit residential project at 2232 El Camino Real, which had already received approval, had a two-year development extension requested by the applicant. Upon consideration of the request, Chair Sudhanshu Jain asked for a voluntary increase in the level of the project’s affordable housing by the applicant. Of the 151 units, five are reserved as affordable, set at 120 percent of the area’s median income. Jain had asked if the developer would modify the affordability level to 100 percent of the area’s median income.
“Since this was passed, we’ve adopted quite a bit more affordable housing in the City,” explained Jain.
Commissioner Steve Kelly commented that it was too late in the process to ask the developer to increase the level of affordability without it being financially burdensome to do so. Commissioners approved the project’s two-year extension without any changes.
Hydrogen Fueling Facility
An existing Air Products facility requested the use permit for the addition of a retail hydrogen vehicle fueling station on a 0.5-acre portion of an existing 11.6-acre site at 1375 Norman Avenue. The project would replace a gravel lot with asphalt, the fueling station and an additional hydrogen tank. Site improvements would also be conducted with landscaping added to the frontage along with sidewalks. The proposal was found to be consistent with the General Plan as well as the Heavy Industrial zoning for the property.
A nearby property owner spoke at the meeting stating that he was concerned that the facility would reduce his property values and pose a safety threat to the neighborhood. Air Products representatives responded saying that the project will improve the area and that extensive safety features are built into the design. Although the station will be unmanned and operate 24/7, it will be remotely monitored and have fail-safe emergency mechanisms.
It’s anticipated that the station will be predominantly used by customers refueling their personal vehicles that run on hydrogen. Commissioners approved the project with the additional requirement that the facility operate security cameras.
648 Robin Drive
Owners of a single-family home at 648 Robin Drive are trying to gain a variance that will allow them to build a 891 square foot rear addition to their home without having to expand their existing one-car garage to a two-car garage. The current rule is that if more than 500 square feet is added, then an additional covered parking spot must also be added. Planning staff recommended that the variance be denied because no unusual conditions were found on the site that would make the garage expansion difficult.
The property owners explained that expanding the garage would increase the cost of the project and also negatively impact their neighbors. The four commissioners present allowed a continuance on the decision until the next meeting and advised the property owners to garner letters of support from neighbors.
1678 Coleman Avenue
An application was submitted for a use permit for a fitness facility at 1678 Coleman Avenue. BMI Fitness currently operates a gym at that location, by appointment only from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The tenant had received a citation for operating a gym without a permit at that location.
The use was found to be consistent with the Station Area Plan, the General Plan and the Light Industrial zoning. A parking study was conducted and found that the current supply of spaces was sufficient to run the facility. However, because the project applicant was not present at the meeting to answer commissioners’ questions, the decision was postponed to the March 13 meeting.
2529 Scott Boulevard
An established acupuncture clinic at 2529 Scott Boulevard applied for a use permit to add a massage component to the existing business in order to provide holistic pain management treatments. The project would add 1,200 square feet and additional massage therapy staff who would be licensed by the state. Commissioners approved the project.
The Santa Clara Planning Commission meets next on Wednesday, March 13 at 6 p.m. in City Hall Council Chambers.