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Planning Commission Discusses 2024 Goals

A light agenda for the Planning Commission to start 2024 cleared the way for a deeper discussion about the Commission’s goals and what it would like to relay to the City Council about the future of Santa Clara.

The Planning Commission is set to have a joint session with the Council on Jan. 30. To prepare for the meeting, commissioners discussed items they believe are important to Santa Clara.

Among the issues, data centers topped the list. The Commission would like to see standards for architecture, power usage and a potential data center park instead of the current approval on a per applicant basis.

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Commissioner Lance Saleme suggested creating a task force with local stakeholders for some of the items on the Planning Commission’s list. He specifically highlighted the need for EV charging at city-owned properties and potential EV charging requirements for all new developments in the City.

Commissioner Yashraj Bhatnagar wanted the Council to ask the City Manager to articulate the goals and vision for the City in the next five to ten years.

Commissioner Eric Crutchlow wanted to ensure that no matter which direction the City takes, there is a focus on taking care of the programs already in place before jumping into new programs.

Several commissioners are concerned about vacant buildings in the area. Many felt that developers should be required to meet certain development timelines, especially with blighted buildings. Of specific concern were developers who received approval under outdated ordinances and then failed to start construction for several years.

Other ideas on the Planning Commission’s list of potential discussion items with the City Council included:

  • The creation of a possible entertainment district around Great America and Levi’s Stadium.
  • Promoting incentives and subsidies for alternative energy sources such as solar power.
  • Smart traffic lights.
  • An environmental program involving garbage, recycling, the annual cleanup campaign and potential fines for improper waste disposal.
  • Supporting housing solutions for the homeless.
  • A city-wide skilled labor policy, so new developments are required to pay a living wage, hire local labor and support apprenticeship programs.

Planning Commission Consent Calendar and Other Business

Commissioner Mario Bouza was not at the Planning Commission meeting. He was excused.

A public hearing to discuss the addition of four emergency generators at the McLaren Data Center at 737 Mathew Street was delayed at the request of the applicant. The future hearing date has not been determined.

All commissioners have registered to attend the State of the Valley conference in person.

The next meeting of the Planning Commission is Jan. 24 at 6 p.m. That’s when commissioners will examine the final slides for the joint meeting with the City Council. Again, the commission is expected to meet with the City Council on Jan. 30.

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