The Silicon Valley Voice

Power To Your Voice

Santa Clara City Council District 2 Candidate: Raj Chahal

The Santa Clara Weekly has invited candidates running for Santa Clara City Council and City Clerk to speak directly to the voters via our pages and website. 

  • What are the unique issues in your district and how do you propose to address them?

Neighborhood protection from inappropriate high-density housing which causes traffic congestion and displaces small business is one of the issues being faced by district two as well as other parts of the city. As planning commissioner, I have always studied the proposals and took into consideration what is good for maintaining the quality of life of our residents and I will apply the same principals to make any future development related issues. I am not opposed to high-density housing but it has to be at a proper place. Affordable housing availability and fair rent are the other issues being faced by working families. I will fight tirelessly for our working families through affordable housing and fair rent initiatives.

  • How would you address Santa Clara’s budget deficit?

I have been business owner since 2005 and even during the down economic times our business has been profitable. My experience and education (MBA in finance) will be an asset to the council and city to balance our budget in future. As per the 10 year projections, in the next 10 years our annual budget deficit will increase to approx. $24 million and our unfunded liabilities towards the pension funds are ever increasing. To reduce or cut down deficits we have to have two pronged approach – increase revenue and cut down wasteful expenses. We should make best use of our assets such as Levi’s Stadium and find out ways to earn more money out of it. As you know salaries account for 74 % of our general fund, I think this should be looked into and may need some adjustments in future. Sales tax is one of the major source of our revenue and as such we should not allow closing down our small businesses for high-density housing.

  • What are the most urgent needs for transportation and housing? How would you address them?

Au  Our jobs to housing ratio is really bad and one main reason for it is unplanned growth. Our growth should be smart, balanced, controlled and collaborative. The unprecedented office space growth has impacted the quality of life of ordinary resident of Santa Clara, it has generated too much traffic congestion. We should make sure that developers participate in providing affordable housing component in all future developments and pay fair impact fees to improve the congestion on the roads. As regards solving transportation needs, we should have TDM penalties and look at innovative solutions like public private free shuttle transportation service similar to what Google is providing in Mountain View. We should be looking at smart city solutions to synchronize our traffic lights and reduce congestion.

  • What policies do you recommend for managing City assets such as the convention center, Levi’s Stadium and the Mission City Center for the Performing Arts?

All these assets are important financial activity centers and can be source of good revenue to city general funds directly or indirectly. One of the major asset’s city has is $1.2 billion Levi’s Stadium, we should sit across the table with 49ers and sort out our differences and resolve the pending differences. As long as we manage it well, Levi’s Stadium has lot of potential to generate good revenue for the city. Mission City Center for the Performing Arts is highly underutilized asset, city marketing department should look at ways to promote this and host more events there. As regards convention center, due to the ongoing uncertainties between city and chamber there are lot of uncertainties, we need to resolve these uncertainties as soon as possible and make sure that we continue making revenue from convention center.

  • Who are the City’s important partners and how can we work most effectively with them?

Residents of the city are our foremost partners in the city, we need to make sure that we inform, consult and involve, them in our major decision-making process. Our decision making should be bottoms up not top down. We should share our issues with our major business establishments (Intel, nVidia, developers, Levi’s Stadium etc.), make sure that they understand their social responsibilities to create good quality of life for our residents. These business to whom we provide best of working atmosphere should also contribute in ways to mitigate our traffic and contribute funds towards making housing affordable for our working families. We need public private collaborations to solve some of our ongoing issues.


The following City Council candidates did not respond to the Weekly’s opportunity to speak to the voters:

District 2: Nancy Biagini

District 3: Karen Hardy and Srinivasan Sambathkumar


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