Getting the “whole picture” seemed to be the theme of the City Council’s first meeting of the year.
The concept came up during several items on the Council’s jam-packed agenda during its Tuesday night meeting.
First, in an item pulled from the consent calendar by Council Member Raj Chahal, the Council approved a $194,500 extension to a contract with familiar contractor Jones Lang LaSalle Americas, Inc. (JLL) The latest amendment pushes the JLL contract to $549,000.
Chahal pulled the item because he said the scope of services for each of the three amendments to the contract, which is consulting services related to the Convention Center, appear to be the same yet JLL has not delivered.
“It looks like we are paying for the same work three times,” Chahal said. “Either the paperwork is not right or we have not followed what has been done.”
The latest amendment puts the firm on retainer.
City Manager Deanna Santana pushed back on Chahal, saying that JLL was instrumental in helping the City secure Spectra to manage the Convention Center and replacing Aramark, the Convention Center’s food and beverage provider, when the company resigned late last year.
Going forward, she said, JLL will help the City establish its destination marketing organization to better market the City and re-establish the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Yes, the scope of work is broad, she said, but that is deliberate to allow “flexibility.”
The explanation did not convince Chahal, who voted against the contract anyway.
Mayor Lisa Gillmor said Chahal must have “misunderstood” what he read and was “missing the big picture,” saying he should consult with the City Manager “to fully understand.”
Community Room Fees To Get Ironed Out
Bringing into focus how the Council wants to proceed with fees for community rooms was another way in which the meeting’s theme came into play.
During a study session, Cynthia Borjorquez, Assistant City Manager, asked the Council for direction on how to structure community room fees.
The session is part of a City initiative to make a dent in the $22.4 million subsidy it incurs by not obtaining full cost recovery for City services.
Borjorquez said the goal is to “streamline” the fees and “create consistency across City services.” Although rental fees will likely not get to full cost recovery, she said, making the fees simpler — much in the way neighboring cities Sunnyvale and Campbell do — will go a long way.
The Council approved the idea of streamlining the fee schedule and also suggested looking into ways to make community rooms more accessible, such as having online signup and keyless entry.
Suds Jain, a Council mainstay who also sits on the Planning Commission, said he was unclear why the rates for community room cost varied so widely, a question that went unanswered at the meeting.
Yahoo Property Fate Still Uncertain
Looking at the entire picture was also how the Council viewed a request to extend a contract on the former Yahoo property.
Chinese developer Kylli asked the Council to extend a contract from 2010 another 3 years. Plans for the 46-acre site, located at 3005 Democracy Way, included the development of more than a dozen, 6-story buildings and 3 million square feet of office space.
However, Kylli was also looking into developing another project on the site, one that includes a school, park space, 10 million square feet of office space and thousands of residential units. When the Federal Aviation Administration sidelined that project, Kylli decided to request an extension on the original project.
While Andrew Crabtree, Director of Community Development, and Santana both supported the extension, the Council denied it, citing big-picture concerns. The community benefits included in the decade-old agreement look fairly shabby by today’s standards, the Council thought.
“We would have to amend this so much it would not even be recognizable. It is not really anything that has any advantage to Santa Clara in there,” Gillmor said. “That area has changed dramatically our requirements have changed dramatically. You are asking us to approve a development agreement for a project that will never happen.”
Gillmor called renegotiating the contract a waste of City employees’ time.
Several members of the public spoke favorably of Kylli, many saying the company is great at community outreach. Newly appointed Vice Mayor Karen Hardy was the lone “no” vote on denying the renewal.
Mixed Signals from San Jose Chaff City Employees
Manuel Pineda, Assistant City Manager, said San Jose isn’t looking at the regional impact of not providing traffic mitigation for housing it intends to build.
San Jose city officials have flip-flopped their position on adhering to a settlement agreement that requires such traffic mitigation for the 8,000 housing units it intends to build, he said.
San Jose city officials have taken the stance that SB-330 exempts them from having to do so, a position with which the City disagrees, Pineda said.
“We are working in good faith, but they do not seem to be working in good faith,” Council Member Debi Davis said.
City Manager Makes Several Fruit Analogies in Criticizing the Media
An article in this publication, Santana felt, didn’t provide the “whole story” of City employees’ salaries. She called the analysis an “apples-to-oranges” comparison, saying the writer, Carolyn Schuk, “wanted to create” a story with “designed conclusions” aimed to “disparage” the City.
Further, she accused Schuk of “cherry picking.” Santana explained taking into account only salary is “deceptive” and that total compensation is more of an “apples-to-apples” comparison, a point the City’s Director of Communication Lenka Wright made in Schuk’s article.
The City’s model of salary schedule actually saves the Santa Clara roughly $400,000 a year, Santana said.
Former City Employee Gets Big Payday
A former Silicon Valley Power employee, Richard Sandau, had his case settled, and the Council paid him $462,500, which the Council approved via the consent calendar.
Council Member Patricia Mahan was absent. The Council meets again Tuesday, Jan. 28 in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1500 Warburton Ave. in Santa Clara.