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Santa Clara City Desk

An RDA By Any Other Name…

Tuesday night as the California legislature – or at least, the Democrats in it – passed a state budget that spells the end of California’s redevelopment agencies (RDAs), the Santa Clara City Council enacted another in a series of measures intended to dodge the RDA shutdown bullet.

The Council voted to add the Bayshore North Enhancement Project Authority (BNPEA) – which itself was created last May – as a party to the city’s Stadium Authority. This is part of the city government’s ongoing activities to protect RDA projects and funding by moving them into other entities.

As part of the budget, the legislature passed AB 26, dissolving the RDAs, and AB 27, which allows RDAs continue to continue operating if they pay the state a one-time, prorated pass-through payment this year, and ongoing payments annually.

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Presumably this aims to recover the tax increments that the agencies siphon off from property tax revenue that the state would otherwise funnel to schools and other local agencies. While supporters characterize it as a welcome end to RDA “despotism,” opponents label it” extortion,” and are threatening to sue.

Other legislation (SB 214) under consideration will extend the projects that municipalities can undertake with infrastructure financing districts.

Retired Police Chief to Develop Regional Stadium Public Safety Plans

The best person to get a job done is someone who already knows how to do it. That’s the thinking of Santa Clara Stadium Authority (SA) when it engaged recently-retired police chief Steve Lodge as a consultant to develop a regional public safety plan for the proposed 49ers stadium.

Lodge will be working less than half-time, according to Deputy City Manager Carol McCarthy, at an hourly rate of $100. Lodge’s time will be charged to and paid for by the stadium authority.

“He is going to be creating the service agreements with other [area] public safety agencies,” says McCarthy, “so the Stadium Authority will be able to staff public safety needs for the stadium when it goes into operation.”

Lodge’s long-standing relationships with area public safety officials as well as his skill and experience make him ideal for this task, explains McCarthy.

The former chief is a 30-year veteran of Santa Clara Police Department and served as the city’s elected police chief from 2000 to 2010. During his time with the SCPD, Lodge was active in many regional public safety projects, including the Silicon Valley Regional [radio communications] Interoperability project, which he chaired for almost 10 years.

“It will be very efficient and effective to have him work with us on this,” McCarthy says. “He’ll be able to create this service agreement in less time and has the expertise to make sure there’s an effective service agreement in place for safety in the stadium and the community.”

Lodge joins another recently-retired city employee on the stadium project team: former Assistant City Manager Ron Garrett. Lead negotiator for the City Manager, Garrett’s knowledge of the City and this project are invaluable, says McCarthy. “We are very glad he stayed on.”

Got Ideas? Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) is Looking For You

If you believe in grass roots activism, consider joining the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) of Santa Clara. From digging into the buried details of the city budget, to looking at long-term trends in city needs, the CAC offers the opportunity for hands-on civics education.

“It’s a place where the average citizen can get involved and learn about city government,” explains local political consultant and CAC member James Rowen.

The CAC, which is independent from city government, was formed in the 1960s as required by federal law for reviewing urban renewal (and later federal block grant) funding requests. In addition to this role, the committee operated as a de facto historical commission, and also took on the role of budget advisory committee – to this day Santa Clara manages a $500 million budget without a standing budget committee – and sponsored the public candidates forum during election years.

Some CAC leaders such as Eddie Souza have served as elected officials and appointed commissioners. Others, such as the late Josephine Rowen, made important contributions to city governance without ever holding elected office.

Any Santa Clara resident join the CAC by applying to the committee and being approved by current committee members. For the past four years Brian Lowery has served as CAC chairman. Other committee members include Planning Commissioner and former School Board Trustee Teresa O’Neill and Santa Clara business owner and community activist Marlene O’Donnell.

Despite the fact that many things have changed in the 50 years since the CAC was founded, the committee has an important role to play in Santa Clara, says James Rowen. “The CAC should focus on being the citizens’ budget advisory committee. It does well with that role and no other organization provides that oversight.”

The next meeting of the CAC is Wednesday, July 27 at 7 p.m. Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce and Convention Center President Steve Van Dorn will be on hand for a conversation about business development in the city. The CAC usually meets the fourth Monday of the month and all meetings are held in the City Council Chambers.

For more information, visit www.cacofsc.org or write to: Citizens Advisory Committee, 1588 Homestead Rd, MS-9, Santa Clara 95050-4721.

SVP Spotlights Santa Clara’s Green Power Business Leaders

Recognizing that energy efficiency and “green” power are win-wins for communities, utilities, non-profits and businesses alike, last month Silicon Valley Power (SVP), Santa Clara’s city-owned electric utility, awarded its annual SVP Energy Innovator Awards to five city-based businesses and one non-profit.

Agilent Technologies: The manufacturer of test and measurement equipment received the large business Energy Efficiency Partner award for “smart” heating and cooling systems that reduced 2010 power consumption by 10 percent – 3.8 million kilowatt hours.

Bella Vista Inn was named small business Energy Efficiency Partner for reducing electric use with motion sensor-controlled lighting, and refitted air conditioning, hot water and laundry equipment.

Data center operator CoreSite received the Environmental Innovator award for its LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Gold-certified building in Santa Clara, and for energy-efficient temperature control that cuts electricity use by about 6 million kilowatt hours annually.

Intel was this year’s SVP large business Green Power Champion. The long-time Santa Clara corporation purchased 1.43 billion kilowatt-hours of Renewable Energy Credits – making Intel the EPA’s number one voluntary buyer of green energy – and installed a 100-kilowatt solar array on its Santa Clara headquarters, annually generating 134,000 kilowatt-hours.

The Neighborhood Christian Center received SVP’s small business Green Power Champion award. The church not saves electricity with energy-efficient lighting, but uses 100 percent renewable energy.

Finally, SVP’s small business Environmental Innovator award this year went to automated test equipment maker Roos Instruments for the company’s long-time participation the SVP’s green power program, and reducing its electricity use by 6 percent in 2010. Roos aims for 10 percent in 2011.

Technology Tops the Bill at Convention Center Events

Providing an object lesson in why Santa Clara’s commercial North side needs the planned parking garage, 1,600 software engineers descended on the Santa Clara Convention Center last week for Yahoo!’s Hadoop Summit – sending motorists to Great America’s overflow lot in search of parking.

Although “Hadoop” isn’t a household name, the computer programming framework is used by many household names including Amazon.com, eBay, FaceBook and the New York Times to quickly handle huge amounts of data.

Adding to last week’s buzzing hive of convention center activity, Parks Associates (www.parksassociates.com) held its annual Connections digital home networking and entertainment conference.

While past conferences have highlighted many facets of this broad subject from home networking via the electrical wires already in your house to Internet-based home medical monitoring systems, this year’s conference was all about home video viewing choices.

Packet Video (www.packetvideo.com) – one of the first to put video on a mobile phone – was on hand with its Twonky Media system, which provides a way to play music, video, and photographs that are stored on any of your devices on any other suitable device – for example, playing video that’s stored on your PC on your TV set.

Santa Clara-based Rovi (www.rovicorp.com) showed its Total Guide video content discovery system. The system – which is built into set-top boxes or TVs – provides an expanded version of the familiar on-screen channel guide that combines multiple content – for example, on-air TV, on-demand TV, and Netflix Instant – into a single program guide.

In addition, Rovi’s system personalizes the guide based on your viewing history. For example, at the top of their menu Mad Men fans will see the recently released fourth season of the AMC drama Sports fans.

It all sounds great, but there is a catch: The entertainment that you’re consolidating with these systems has to be recognizable to them. Technically that means stored on a device that supports home networking standards such as UPnP or DLNA – two of the most common. The good news is that an increasing number of consumer electronics and service provider offerings are building in these capabilities.

Even mobile technology giant Qualcomm is elbowing into the connected home media picture with its free Skifta Android app. Skifta (www.skifta.com) turns your mobile phone into a remote control that streams media – video, music, photographs -from wherever it’s stored (As long as that somewhere is DLNA-certified) to your TV set via common wireless Internet (WiFi).

“We want to encourage consumers to view devices they have in new ways,” says Qualcomm Head of Global Market Development Gary Brotman.

Carolyn Schuk can be reached at cschuk@earthlink.net.

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