The Santa Clara City Council has approved movement on two housing projects, one on Benton Street and another along El Camino Real.
The first, located at 575 Benton St., is a 355-apartment Prometheus development. At its Tuesday night meeting, the Council needed to approve the removal of public utilities from the property, essentially selling the 1.3-acre parcel to Prometheus for roughly $920,000.
Relocating the utilities will cost $8.6 million. Since Prometheus agreed to pay that cost, it will get the money it spends as a credit off the land value. The property is worth $9.52 million. The difference between the two numbers goes to the City.
Manuel Pineda, Assistant City Manager, said the complex is what gives the property value.
Vice Mayor Patricia Mahan agreed that the complex adds value to the land, calling the infrastructure there “woefully inadequate” and saying it “evens out.”
The rest of the Council agreed.
“Without moving those utilities, the value of building is greatly decreased,” said Mayor Lisa Gillmor. “The only reason there is a value there is because of the development. It is a fair deal.”
The second property, located 1433-1493 El Camino Real, is a 39 for-sale condo development being built by SCS Development. The project, dubbed Catalina II, required a rezoning to planned development. The 1.7-acre development will also have seven live-work units, four below-market-rate condos and a 3,000-square-foot park onsite.
An issue of whether to do an archeological survey — to unearth potential Native American artifacts or remains — before excavating the site came up, having been one of the Planning Commission’s recommendations.
Cory Keisch, with SCS Development, said the area has “low potential” for such findings.
Despite not being required to do a survey, should builders come across any Native American artifacts or remains, the law mandates they halt construction.
Council Member Debi Davis said she “wholeheartedly believes” that if workers find such materials, they will stop work. Gillmor agreed.
Nancy Biagini, who sits on the Planning Commission, said she was “very disappointed” that the developer was resistant to the survey and that the Council didn’t deem it necessary. Gillmor agreed with Davis.
“If there is something that does show up, I know you will do the right thing,” she said.
Biagini said expecting contractors to stop working if they find Native American materials is “a little presumptuous.”
The Council approved the decisions on both developments unanimously.
Council Approves Budget
Also on the agenda was the City’s two-year budget, which the City is required to adopt by July.
The City’s finance department continued to hammer home that the budget is balanced and “fiscally responsible,” this time through Kenn Lee, Assistant Finance Director.
Although City employees have managed to all but eliminate the looming deficit during the next 10 years, some years are barely in the black.
Just as City Manager Deanna Santana has said on several occasions, Lee said the City is aware of the risk factors that could jeopardize its financial stability — most notably CalPERS, economic downturn and changes in state and federal laws.
The City will add more than 20 new positions next fiscal year despite its cutbacks. Many on the Council lauded the budget’s new format, saying it increases transparency.
Lee said he “hopes it enhances trust” in managing taxpayers’ money.
Davis said the new format is simple enough “even the residents can understand it.”
“Your budget should reflect your values and your priorities,” said Council Member Teresa O’Neill. “We are really working hard to make sure the budget does reflect what we have heard from the residents.”
Budget amendments from the last time the Council discussed the budget include a $70,000 allocation to match the money raised for the Parade of Champions, $100,000 in “contingency items” at the Convention Center, $50,000 for a community outreach manager for the “Love Santa Clara” program and $100,000 for two intern opportunities for students.
Gillmor called the budget a “phenomenal … work of art.”
The budget passed unanimously.
Consent Calendar Abound With Contracts
Through the consent calendar, the Council approved several contracts and City jobs.
The Council approved the job descriptions for four auditor positions: two performance auditor positions, a senior performance auditor and an auditor manager.
The two performance auditor positions carry a yearly salary of $89,760 to $116,170 and $107,712 to $139,404 respectively. The senior performance auditor’s position earns between $126,144 and $163,236 yearly while the audit manager’s salary is between $148,716 and $192,456.
More than $14 million in contracts and agreements were awarded via the consent calendar. They include:
- A contract for consulting services for the City Place project increased by $300,000 to an amount not to exceed $650,000.
- A $115,000 contract with E.J. Pires Trucking Company, Inc.
- Contracts with 18 different recreational instructional providers totaling $4.53 million over 5 years.
- A 5-year contract not to exceed $2.25 million, with Peninsula Gymnastics Training Center to provide gymnastics training.
- A contract with Emerson Process Management Power & Water Solutions, Inc. for $2.74 million to upgrade the control system at the Don Von Raesfeld Power Plant.
- A contract with Environmental Systems, Inc. to replace the HVAC system at the police station for $417,000.
- $35,000 for “additional services” for the Healthier Kids Foundation.
- A $356,038 increase in a contract with Questica, Inc. through 2024. The total amount is not to exceed $877,038.
- An $87,500 increase in a contract for code enforcement with Metropolitan Planning Group.
- $202,000 contract for “consulting services related to the deferred compensation plan” with Hyas Group, LLC.
- $1.6 million with Energy & Resource Solutions, Inc. to provide “energy efficiency program management services.”
- A $140,000 increase for eRecordsUSA for document scanning services. The total contract cost is not to exceed $210,000.
- A $500,000 and a $479,500 contract with Magical Bridge and Groundswell Landscape Architects respectively to design an “all-inclusive playground.”
- An agreement with Housing Trust Silicon Valley “not to exceed” $200,000 for the “performance of services.”
- $175,000 with Santa Clara County for “intensive case management and homeless prevention.”
Grand Jury Report Ruffles Council
At the end of the meeting, Mayor Gillmor addressed media reports regarding a Grand Jury report that found Santa Clara’s response to public records requests “unacceptable.”
Gillmor said that such a criticism lacks “critical context” because it doesn’t compare Santa Clara to other cities. She praised City employees claiming that some have been “bullied by special interests” and that the Council is “making changes” those special interests “don’t like.”
“As we tell our side of our story, people will get the complete picture,” she said.
Although Gillmor claimed the City has been “inundated with public records requests,” she offered no reason why the City has been unable to comply with state law.
The City will issue a response to the Grand Jury report Aug. 27.
The Council meets again Tuesday, July 9 in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1500 Warburton Ave. in Santa Clara.