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Santa Clara City Desk: Dec. 4, 2013

Santa Clara Fire Museum Long Awaited Opening This Friday

Every year, the first Friday in December inaugurates the start of the holiday season in Santa Clara. This year, however, will be notable for the long-awaited opening of the Santa Clara fire history museum at 1900 Walsh Ave.

For Ray Gamma, who was hired by the SCFD in 1955, it very likely will be a reunion with some of the equipment he worked with in those days. “I’m going to be there,” he says. “No doubt about it.”

Detailed Traffic Management and Public Safety Plans for Levi’s Stadium Released

At the Nov. 19 meeting, the Santa Clara City Council heard from city officials about the transportation management and operations plans (TMOP) for the new 49ers Levi’s Stadium. Current plans foresee these traffic patterns for game-day visitors:

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  • 73 percent by car – compared with 82 percent for Candlestick Park
  • 19 percent by public transit – compared with 8 percent for Candlestick
  • 8 percent by chartered bus – compared with 10 percent for Candlestick

The anticipates patrons traveling from almost every Bay Area public transit system including: VTA Light Rail, CalTrain, SamTrans, VTA local buses, ACE light rail, Amtrak Capital Corridor, and East Bay public buses.

The plan also includes detailed planning for parking directions, with intersections specially programmed and staffed for inbound and outbound traffic, and static and dynamic signs on freeways and in the stadium vicinity to direct travelers as needed.

Parking will be distributed to make entering and exiting as smooth as possible – avoiding the long bottlenecks characteristic of Candlestick Park. Parking options will include a  “main” lot, the Tasman garage, other Tasman lots, Great America’s employee parking lot, the Convention Center parking garage, and other lots nearby (currently under negotiation).

Parking pass directions will be printed on tickets and the 49ers’ mobile Fan App will also provide dynamic parking information.

The entire plan – 150 pages in extremely small type – as well as the 44-slide presentation can be found by visiting santaclaraca.gov/index.aspx?page=1504, selecting the 11/19/13 Council meeting, and selecting item 4.C from the agenda. 

MCCF Awarded Non-Profit of the Year for Assembly District 25

At his upcoming State of the Assembly District event State Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski will present Santa Clara’s Mission City Community Fund with the Non-Profit of the Year award. The Dec. 11 event, which will be at the Tesla plant in Fremont, will also honor Santa Clara Firefighters Local 1171 with the district’s Unity Award, and the Diridon family as Santa Clara Local Heroes. The Assemblyman has local office hours the second Wednesday of every month, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Santa Clara Central library, 2635 Homestead Road.

Anonymous Group Files Lawsuit to Stop Work at 1091 Harrison St.

An anonymous group calling itself “Residents Of Santa Clara” filed a lawsuit in October against the City demanding a CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) review of the restoration work at 1091 Harrison St. Under CEQA, groups who sue – usually to block development, not historical preservation – don’t have to disclose their identities or funding sources.

Describing itself as “an unincorporated association, formed on or about April 22, 2013 to promote the preservation of historic resources in Santa Clara and to enforce state and local laws, specifically as they apply to the Lovell house [i.e. 1091 Harrison St.],” the “Residents” group is demanding that the City “apply protections of local and state laws to the revered Lovell House” and “challenges the City’s determination that the issuance of a Building Permit to alter and add to the historic Lovell House was the proper subject of a CEQA categorical exemption.”

CEQA includes historical value in the items that must be considered in development projects. However, local agencies have the discretion to declare a project “categorically exempt” from CEQA review. Santa Clara has no municipal preservation ordinance. Thus, the only applicable standards are those of the U.S. Dept. of the Interior for historic preservation, which principally concern the exterior of historic structures. Nor is there any city ordinance requiring review by the Historical and Landmarks Commission (HLC).

The suit demands that the building permits be set aside, that all work be halted until the CEQA study is completed, and that the “Residents” group be reimbursed for legal fees.

The “Residents” are represented by Fairfield, Calif. attorney Amber Kemble, who represented a similarly anonymous “Upper Green Valley Homeowners Association” in 2011, challenging a CEQA exemption granted to the Suisun Valley Strategic Plan, which combined residential and agricultural uses on former farmland.

Built in the 1880s, 1091 Harrison is on the only full block of Santa Clara that retains its original late 19th century streetscape, and is listed on the City’s Architecturally or Historically Significant Properties List. The property’s originality was apparently so “revered,” that no maintenance was done on it for more than half a century, and, reportedly, it didn’t have a working kitchen or bathroom when it was sold to the present owners to settle an estate in 2011.

Its deteriorated condition, City Planning Director Kevin Riley told the Weekly last June, was one reason for some urgency about the project, before the house reached a state of deterioration that it would have to be condemned. (This, in fact, was what happened to the carriage house at the Morse Mansion, resulting in the City losing an important part of an architecturally and historically significant property.)

In 2012 the owners of 1091 Harrison filed an application for architectural review and worked with the Planning staff on construction plans to renovate the house, build a new foundation and add a basement.

They completed the required historic documentation and preservation plan, as well as a determination of consistency with the U.S. Secretary of the Interior Standards for Historic Resources. The Planning Department granted architectural approval and issued building permits in February and April, determining that a CEQA review wasn’t required. The project was not submitted to the HLC for review.

The HLC meets this Thursday, Dec. 7 at City Council Chambers, and its agenda includes a “verbal update” on 1091 Harrison. For more agenda information, visit santaclaraca.gov/index.aspx?page=1419.

“Residents of Santa Clara v. City of Santa Clara” is case #1-13-CV-254623. Hearings are scheduled at the Santa Clara County Superior Court on Dec. 12 in Dept. 8 at 9 a.m., and Dec. 20 in Dept. 21 at 9 a.m. For more information, visit www.sccaseinfo.org.

Requiescat in Peace

The Nov. 19 City Council meeting was adjourned in memory of Dell Boccignone, a half-century resident of Santa Clara. The husband of Santa Clara’s longtime City Clerk, Judy Boccignone, Dell was a longtime volunteer and later President of the Board for Heart of the Valley Services for Seniors.

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