The public comment period during Tuesday night’s Santa Clara City Council meeting was emotionally charged. Many of the commenters were brief, but their core message was the same. They called for Council Member Anthony Becker’s resignation.
Former City Council Member Teresa O’Neill said she was “disappointed.” She called Becker’s recent indictment for allegedly perjuring himself to the Grand Jury a “distraction” and said the best thing Becker could do for the City is resign.
Resident Wanda Buck echoed the sentiment.
“I’m really sad about what’s been going on in our City and our country with all this divisiveness and this latest with Mr. Becker is perpetuating, carrying on even further,” said Buck. “I’d like the 49ers to be positive for us. I’m sad for Mr. Becker…I second what Teresa O’Neill said. I second that it would be helpful for him to consider the City and resign rather than drag everything all in the news further.”
Others said Becker was not “worthy” of a seat on the City Council and he did not belong on the dais. One resident called the events “disheartening.”
As is customary with the public comment portion of the meeting, the members of the City Council did not respond.
Moment of Silence for Eliyanah Cristostomo
The Council opened the meeting by taking a moment to remember two residents lost in the past few weeks.
Mayor Lisa Gillmor asked for a moment of silence to remember Eliyanah Cristostomo, a Central Park Elementary School kindergartener shot and killed on I-880 earlier this month. Eliyanah would have been six years old this week.
The Council also marked the passing of Don Von Raesfeld Sr., the most impactful city manager in Santa Clara’s history. Von Raesfeld’s children attended the meeting to speak about their father and his close relationship with Santa Clara.
“We loved him. He loved you guys. He loved the City. He loved all the citizens and he really always tried to strive for what was best for everyone,” said Von Raesfeld’s son Myron.
2319 Gianera Street No Longer “Surplus Land”
After initially calling the city-owned property on Gianera Street surplus land, the Council voted 4-3 to rescind the previous declaration and directed City staff to come back with possible uses for the property.
City staff will have to work with HUD to make sure that rescinding the motion is done properly since the property was initially designated as surplus land on March 7. The status of 2319 Gianera Street was recalled on March 21 and appeared before the Council on Tuesday evening.
Gillmor along with Council Members Kathy Watanabe and Suds Jain voted against rescinding the surplus land designation.
Proposed Street Vendor Ordinance
Howard Gibbons, a.k.a. the Hot Dog Dude, heard a response to his request that the City look into regulating food vendors after events at Levi’s Stadium.
Gibbons runs a mobile food cart near the stadium. He is licensed by the health department and has a permit from the City.
He petitioned the City because he believes many of the other vendors do not meet health standards.
“These guys don’t care about health safety or anything,” said Gibbons.
City staff says there is little it can do since the state passed SB946 – a bill that decriminalized street vending and limited what cities could do for enforcement. SB946 was designed to encourage entrepreneurship, especially among immigrants and low-income households.
Under the bill, cities cannot regulate street vendors unless there are objective health, safety or welfare concerns. There is also no limit on how many street vendors can be in a city.
However, the City can create an ordinance to ensure street vendors are properly licensed and permitted under local regulations.
In conjunction with the Santa Clara Police Department, the City has suggested a pilot program for stadium event days. The program would include an ordinance that requires all vendors to comply with local government rules, including health department standards.
The pilot program is expected to launch in August. If it is successful, it can be rolled out through the rest of the City.
Municipal Fees Schedule for 2023-24
The Council approved the municipal fees schedule for the upcoming fiscal year with the caveat that City staff would return at a later date with alternatives to the current fees charged to youth groups and nonprofits.
“I totally understand the cost recovery however we are hurting our nonprofits in the process,” said Watanabe. “I just don’t want to have Santa Clara have the reputation that we’re not friendly to nonprofits or to providing for the youth of our City.”
The municipal fee schedule includes more than 1,300 different fees charged by the City for everything from construction permitting to the use of local baseball fields to the fines paid at the library.
Santa Clara Finance Director Kenn Lee says fees are based on several factors including inflation and the time required by City staff to address an item.
Consent Calendar & Other Business
While Council Member Raj Chahal attended the meeting via phone because he was out of the area, his power cut out part way through the meeting. As a result, Chahal voted on items earlier in the session but was unable to vote at the end of the meeting.
Jain pulled an item from the consent calendar addressing the use of General Fund money to pay for maintenance at the Santa Clara Convention Center Complex.
Jain felt the City needed a better way to pay for the maintenance and suggested that the City come up with a plan that might include charging for parking. Gillmor said maintenance fees are a necessary expense since the City owns the Convention Center and the surrounding property.
Jain pushed to have City staff investigate ways to offset costs. The item was approved with the added request.
The Council approved the following consent calendar items without discussion:
- Contract with Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. for purchase of traffic management system and maintenance through April 30, 2033; not to exceed $2,194,258.
- Agreement with Hexagon Transportation Consultants, Inc. for traffic monitoring and administration through April 30, 2026; not to exceed $200,000.
- Contract with Impec Group, Inc. for citywide janitorial services for five years; not to exceed $7,830,683.
- Authorized City Manager to execute an agreement with CBRE Inc. for Loyalton Property and other City properties.
- Executed sixth amendment in agreement with Santa Clara Valley Water District to increase agreement amount by $300,000; not to exceed $550,000.
- Awarded public contract for sanitary sewer condition assessment repairs to JMB Construction, Inc. in the amount of $5,178,003 and authorize change orders up to 15% of the original contract price.
- Adopted a resolution opposing initiative 21-0042A1 “The Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act.”
- Granted a two-year special use permit to use the Santa Clara Marriott Hotel Parking Lot as an event site.
- Agreement with Gachina Landscape Management for landscaping at Levi’s Stadium through March 31, 2026; not to exceed $210,000.
- Extend agreement with Integrated Communication Systems at Levi’s Stadium until May 31, 2023; not to exceed $10,000.
The meeting was adjourned in honor of Don Von Raesfeld Sr. and Eliyanah Cristostomo.
The next City Council meeting is Tuesday, May 9 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.
What about decorum? I believe the pandemic is over. Why does Kevin Park still wear a mask at the meetings? One reason could be that he is one those people that actually looks better with a mask on. And why does he wear shirts and jackets with logos on them? Very inappropriate and unprofessional. He comes across as a weirdo.
Hopefully Becker will do the right thing and resign immediately. He should also issue an apology to the citizens of Santa Clara and promise to never run for office again. He should move out of Santa Clara where many of us wish him nothing but hard times.
A lot of people still wear masks for one of a bunch of different possible reasons. Who cares if Park wears a mask or if he wears clothing with a logo on it? City councilpeople should not have to change clothes to attend council meetings if they are going straight from work unless maybe if they are a swimming pool lifeguard.
The real issue with Park is his still failing to acknowledge or make amends for using his elevated position on the city council dais to mock and ridicule a member of the public because that person has politically criticized him.
In so doing Park showed everyone in Santa Clara that if they speak out about his behavior publicly he will take it personally and so nobody can speak out about him without fear that he will try to exact retribution through his power as a councilperson.
That is what is inappropriate and unprofessional of him not his wearing a mask or clothing with company logos on it.
Anthony Becker needs to resign. His actions have proven the truth of the Grand Jury Report. It’s disgusting and unfortunate that Becker will take the fall for the whole group. I hope Becker has the courage to speak the truth about what really happened on October 7th. He wasn’t the only one talking to the press. Councilmembers Hardy and Park should also answer for their comments and illegal disclosures.