Planning Commissioners convened via remote teleconferencing for an April 8 meeting while City staff were present in the City Hall chambers seated at least six feet apart and donning masks and gloves. The meeting’s unique circumstances were allowed through an exception to the Brown Act made by the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
An April 2019 decision to recommend that City Council place a moratorium on cannabis dispensaries in the city until June 2020 was revisited by the commission who remain divided on the issue. In 2018, voters passed Measure M by over 76 percent allowing for the taxation of dispensaries in the city, however, commissioners were in disagreement about whether that signifies that voters actually want dispensaries in the city. There was also ample discussion about the trade-off between the amount of revenue generated for the City from cannabis businesses versus municipal funds spent on regulation and enforcement.
“If we only allowed three retail dispensaries in the city that would reduce the burden on the police and it would be a fairly good money generator for the City — at least a million dollars per year,” said Commissioner Suds Jain. Jain also advocated against the practice of dispensaries being cash-only, a by-product of federal restrictions against marijuana, saying that cash-only transactions engender criminal activity. He said that a company, Shift Processing, has enabled credit transactions for other dispensaries in the state by acting as a third party.
Commissioner Priya Cherukuru voiced a firm stance against commercial cannabis business in Santa Clara saying that the product poses health risks to children and pregnant women, which may be heightened because of COVID-19.
An attempted vote to prohibit all commercial cannabis activities failed 4-3. A subsequent vote to revisit the issue again on February 28, 2021 did pass. The commission also voted to recommend that City Council limit cannabis activities to retail establishments only, whenever that body deliberates on the issue in the future.
Lawson Lane Office Campus
Developer Sobrato sought to expand an existing office campus at 2200 Lawson Lane by adding 241,419 square feet of office space and 466 parking spaces within a six-level parking garage. The project site is situated on the west campus while the east campus has an existing office building completed in 2013. ServiceNow occupies the east campus and is expected to also inhabit the west campus once complete.
“By expanding into multiple buildings around Lawson Lane in Santa Clara [ServcieNow] is showing that they’re committed long-term to Santa Clara as their global headquarters,” said Michael You, Development Manager for Sobrato. He also commented that Sobrato is committed to moving the development forward despite adverse economic conditions.
The project will feature solar panels on the parking garage and a 3D mesh screen along the structure’s San Tomas Expressway frontage to boost the aesthetics. The project was approved with the conditions that it seek LEED Gold certification, contain additional electric vehicle charging stations and bike parking, and that the Transportation Demand Management plan reduce vehicle miles traveled by a minimum of 20 percent.
The Planning Commission’s next regularly scheduled meeting is on Wednesday, May 27.