Allegations of chicanery regarding a planning commissioner’s residence caused the Council to ax him from that position.
At its first meeting in a month, the Council removed Ron Patrick from the Planning Commission mere months after appointing him. Councilmember Anthony Becker previously raised the topic and spearheaded a campaign to discuss the issue at a subsequent meeting, which was held Tuesday night.
Although Patrick managed to correct what he called a “clerical error” on his voter registration prior to his appointment in June, the Council took issue with his failing to do so ahead of his applying to the commission in April. Prior to the correction, the Registrar of Voters listed Patrick’s address in Mountain View, not on Lafayette Street as he claimed on his application.
While the so-called mistake did not disqualify Patrick from serving on the Planning Commission, according to City policy, the Council saw the discrepancy as a huge red flag.
Patrick claims to lead an alternative, “nomadic, workaholic” lifestyle, one that has him living in his business, located at 5191 Lafayette St., staying with a friend in Santa Clara, in Toronto or Carmel. His Mountain View home, he said, is “a structure filled with ghosts and memories” of a year where almost everyone close to him died. Consequently, he rarely stays there, saying his “heart is in Santa Clara.”
However, the business Patrick lists as his voting address is not a residence, and, if he is living there, he is doing so illegally, violating California building code. The Council majority found Patrick’s voting by mail fishy, saying it pointed to, at the very least, a lack of attention to detail.
Vice Mayor Suds Jain called Patrick living in an illegal dwelling while ruling on zoning code violations “hypocritical.”
“It is surprising to me that, for such a smart guy, he would make such a simple mistake. Perhaps it is an honest mistake, but I can’t imagine that he wouldn’t have noticed that he wasn’t voting for Santa Clara candidates,” Jain said. “If he is serving as a planning commissioner while living at 5191 [Lafayette St.], then it would be very difficult for the City to enforce these rules on anyone else in the City due to precedence, especially in such a high-profile situation.”
Nora Pimental, assistant city clerk, told the Council it is not infrequent for the City to prompt candidates to update their voter registration.
Mayor Lisa Gillmor and political ally Councilmember Kathy Watanabe opposed the removal. Watanabe called it a “travesty” and “disgusting.” Meanwhile, Gillmor said Becker’s realization about Patrick’s address “was not an epiphany; it is very political.”
Still, the Council voted 4-2 to remove Patrick and appoint Mario Bouza to the Planning Commission in his stead. Gillmor and Watanabe voted “no.”
SVP Projecting Even Greater Growth
Manuel Pineda, director of Silicon Valley Power (SVP), forecasted a need for even more power load to keep pace with the City’s growth. The City set a new high for peak load in June — 650 megawatts, up from the previous peak of 596 megawatts, Pineda told the Council during the SVP quarterly report.
New projects will raise the load capacity to 1,200 megawatts by 2027-28, but Pineda said it won’t be enough to keep up with Santa Clara’s growth. Despite the projected surge, the City’s energy needs will likely eclipse 2,000 megawatts in the next couple decades, Pineda said.
More than 20 data centers and more than 50 large commercial and residential projects have expressed interest in coming online in Santa Clara. Such growth raises the question of how much SVP should be growing, a topic Pineda said will be part of an ongoing dialog with the Council as SVP prepares the 20-year plan next year.
Although SVP is staying busy adding to the energy load with $300 million in projects, including the addition of three receiving stations, battery storage and several transmission lines, the City’s load could triple or even quadruple in the coming decades, Pineda said.
Public Petitions Gain Traction
A petition to consider levying a 6% tax on all entertainment tickets sold saw approval from the Council. The petition, brought forth by Thomas Cavello, calls for a tax on all tickets sold except those for schools or nonprofits. So, every ticket sold at venues like Santa Clara Convention Center, Levi’s Stadium or California Great America would be subject to the tax if approved.
Cavello called the tax “fair and reasonable,” adding that it would add much-needed revenue to the City’s general fund. As part of his petition, he suggested the City spend the estimated $12 to $14 million generated by the tax to “enhance entertainment” within the City.
Examples of this “enhancement” include park improvements, work at the swim center, additional pickleball courts and the City’s Fourth of July fireworks display. The item will return to the Council within 60 days.
The Council also approved a petition from Vice Mayor Suds Jain to establish a Stadium Relations Committee. The Council would need to allocate up to $150,000 — from the Stadium Authority budget, not the general fund — to cover City employee time to support the committee. The item will return in early 2023.
Finally, a public petition from Kirk Vartan, a San Jose resident and Santa Clara business owner, implored the Council to discuss the fate of Great America at a future meeting.
The Council unanimously approved putting the items on a future agenda.
Consent Calendar Spending
- A $163,563 contract with Innovate Concrete to build a library gazebo.
- A five-year $516,816 contract with Wonderware, Inc. to provide software, hardware, and related professional services for a central cashiering system.
- A three-year $1 million contract with KYLE Groundwater, Inc. for well condition assessment and engineering services.
- A $136,818 contract with Advanced Mobility Group for a pedestrian beacon upgrade at Lick Mill Boulevard traffic signal modification at Monroe Street at Los Padres Boulevard.
- A four-year $1 million software service agreement with Power Market Consulting Inc. for OASISLive subscription used for power market participation.
- A five-year $149, 194 agreement with TT FASTER, LLC for vendor-hosted fleet management information system.
- A $381,629 amendment to an agreement with WRECO for intersection improvements on Great America Parkway and Mission College Boulevard; total contract amount: $1.4 million.
- A $100,296 agreement with the City of San Jose for a vision study along Stevens Creek Boulevard.
Councilmember Kevin Park was absent.
The next regularly scheduled meeting is Tuesday, Aug. 30 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.