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Requirements For Redistricting Committee Set, El Camino Plan Returns

The Santa Clara City Council settled on requirements for the committee that will redraw the City’s district lines.

At its Tuesday night meeting, the Council agreed to take most of City Clerk Hosam Haggag’s recommendations on how to select the committee and what prohibitions to place on their service. However, the Council deviated from the recommendation on a few fronts.

It opted to require that applicants live in the district they are aiming to serve for at least a year. The Council previously said it wanted to randomly select applicants to serve, having one commissioner for each district and one at-large with an alternate. Further, the Council decided to give those who serve on the committee a $50 stipend for each meeting they attend. It also eliminated a prohibition that would prevent committee members from serving on other City commissions afterward.

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Council Member Suds Jain originally proposed a $150 per meeting stipend, but that motion failed 4-3, with Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Council Members Anthony Becker, Kathy Watanabe and Kevin Park voting against it.

Although the Council approved the lower stipend, Watanabe remained steadfast, voting against it. She said she would not vote for a stipend higher than $25 per meeting, citing the Council’s recent cuts to public safety. She called the spending “frivolous.”

However, Jain said offering an incentive is necessary because of the urgency of assembling the committee.

“We don’t have a re-do. That is why the carrot has to be so big,” he said. “I wish we didn’t have to pay anything, but we have to get this done.”

The $50 per meeting stipend passed 4-3, with Watanabe, Council Members Karen Hardy and Anthony Becker voting against it.

 

El Camino Specific Plan Details Get Settled

Revisions to the El Camino Specific Plan also returned. The Council had previously given the go-ahead on most of the elements of the El Camino Real Specific Plan but had directed City employees to return a lower density alternative for consideration.

Those changes returned, but did not see enough support for approval. Time constraints made drafting another environmental impact report — which would be required if the Council opted to tinker with the density — infeasible. However, higher density also did not go over well with the Council.

Jain said the revision did not offer what he hoped.

“I am really discouraged about the tremendous lack of commercial development along El Camino due to this revised plan,” he said, later adding: “I am very concerned about having El Camino remaining strip malls.”

Concerns about tall buildings butting up against residential areas were abound.

Santa Clara resident Joe Penniman told the Council that four and five story buildings in the areas proposed are not appropriate, saying the City should seek to put housing elsewhere.

However, many thought the increased density was a must to maintain the City’s transit corridor status.

“I cannot be thinking about a handful of single-family homes along El Camino,” said Atisha Varshney “Having housing close to BART, close to Caltrain station, having bike lanes, should be a priority, and should be a priority of my leadership.”

In the end, the Council opted to return to the original recommendation, which allows for two, three and four-story height limits. The vote on that motion was 4-3, with Park, Jain and Hardy voting against it. Completion of the plan is slated for early 2022.

 

Tasman East Specific Plan Increases Housing

The Council also unanimously approved an amendment with a contract with Perkins + Will to amend the Tasman East Specific Plan. The amendment for consulting services would allow for an additional 1,500 units in the area.

The contract extension now goes through the end of June 2022 and increases the total by $275,000, for a total of $1.46 million.

 

Consent Calendar Spending

The Council approved the following spending in one motion via the consent calendar:

  • Three two-year, $83,300 contracts for traffic engineering consulting support services with DKS Associates, Kimley-Horn and Associates and Whitelock & Weinberger Transportation
  • A year extension to a property management contract with Orchard Commercial Inc. The extension adds $77,400 to the contract total, which now stands at $472,918.
  •  A $60,000 contract with Technology, Engineering & Construction, Inc. to provide fuel storage tank compliance services

The next regularly scheduled meeting is Tuesday, July 13 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

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