Despite a plea from the developer, Santa Clara’s Planning Commission has recommended that the City Council reject a request to rezone a development at 190 N. Winchester Blvd.
The Santana Terrace Apartments is a completed development on Winchester Boulevard just south of Pruneridge Avenue. The development was approved by the City in Jan. 2016 as a 92-unit rental property for seniors 55 years of age and above. Now, developers are asking that the City rezone the property to general occupancy.
Developer USA Properties says it started pre-leasing in March of 2020, but COVID-19 took its toll. As of today, 20 units have been leased. Representatives for USA Properties say they have done everything they can to lease the units to seniors, but with no success. Now, they want to open rentals up to people of all ages.
“We’ve been having this discussion since the end of last year with the City and we’re really at a breaking point,” said Eric Morley, a lobbyist for USA Properties. “[We] don’t want the property to continue to deteriorate further and be able to have these units be available during this continued housing crunch.”
Commissioners were skeptical that the developer allowed enough time for senior housing to rebound after the COVID-19 closures. They voted 6-1 to recommend that the City Council deny the request with Commissioner Qian Huang voting no.
“What I do keep coming back to is during this trying time we’ve been through with COVID-19, we see the dawn approaching. So, who do we help financially so to speak and at whose expense?” asked Commissioner Nancy Biagini. “Do we help the developer who’s clearly having some big issues? But are we doing that at the expense of seniors that may not recognize or been reached out to enough about the ability to move to a place that’s more suitable to them?”
“I’m concerned and worried that the original tenants which were brought in with a promise of a 55 and older lifestyle within this development will have to face this change without any input directly for or against other than in this meeting,” said Commissioner Lance Saleme. “It seems odd that we could pull the rug out from under them right now and just say that anyone can go in there that wants to. It’s different lifestyles, different expectations, different amenities for younger residents than it is for the senior residents.”
Planning Commission Welcomes New Member
The Planning Commission welcomed its newest member during the July 12 meeting. All seven seats on the Commission are now filled.
Yashraj Bhatnagar was placed on the commission by the City Council. He fills one of the vacancies created when former commissioners Suds Jain and Anthony Becker were elected to the City Council last November.
Bhatnagar moved to Santa Clara from Canada in 1995. He says he’s excited to work to better the city he loves.
“My real interest is in serving this lovely city that we live in that has, in my mind, a moniker of small but mighty,” said Bhatnagar. “I just love the place that I live in and I want to see if this is an opportunity that can help me serve, give something back from everything that I’ve received so far.”
Bhatnagar’s term expires June 30, 2023.
Planning Commission Elects New Leadership
As is tradition on the Planning Commission, new leaders were elected to serve one-year terms in their respective positions.
Commissioner Biagini was elected as Chair of the Commission. She served the past year as Vice Chair. Commissioner Cherukuru was elected Vice Chair. She was previously the Planning Commission Secretary. Commissioner Ricci Herro was elected Secretary. All three will all assume their new roles at the next Planning Commission Meeting.
The Planning Commission’s next meeting is Wednesday, Aug. 25 at 6 p.m.