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Zoning Code Update to Change How Santa Clara Develops

The Santa Clara City Council voted to approve an update to the City’s Zoning Code and passed a resolution to join “United Against Hate.” The Council also discussed overtime pay for police officers who work the Christmas Day game at Levi’s Stadium.

Santa Clara will update its zoning code for the first time in more than 50 years.

At its last meeting of the year, the Santa Clara City Council voted unanimously to update building standards throughout the City for the first time since 1969. The code update has been in the works for several years and brings the City up-to-date with state law as well as modern sensibilities regarding development.

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In his final presentation to the Council prior to his retirement, Andrew Crabtree, director of community development, detailed the changes to the zoning code at a high level.

While the general plan governs the basic guidelines for the City’s vision for development, the zoning code codifies that vision into concrete details such as building heights, setbacks and parking requirements, he said.

The update aims to provide a consistent and cohesive set of guidelines to achieve the intent of the general plan, he said. Many changes in the code were simply to adhere to state law. However, others were to simplify existing regulations or expand on those that don’t encapsulate modern development trends, Crabtree said.

“We recognize that land uses change, new uses evolve, and the code needs to address those things,” Crabtree said. “Having these new zoning code districts will allow us to have a zoning code that directly correlates with our general plan, which helps with implementation.”

Among the changes to the code are a new low-level permitting process for uses such as pumpkin patches, Christmas tree lots and carnivals, an increase in the allowable data center height, requirements for short-term rentals and a mandate on “common habitable areas” for rentals, a designation designed to prevent homeowners from turning every inch of a rental into a bedroom.

Crabtree said the code update will support continued economic development without the need to rely on the planned development designation, instead reserving such a designation for developments 25 acres or more.

The Council will adopt the map for the update in the spring of next year.

Santa Clara Stands “United Against Hate”

The Council also supported a feel-good motion to stand “united against hate.” The resolution came just a week after the Council heard nearly three hours of public testimony on the Isreali-Palestinian war. Members of the public on each side implored the Council to either support or reject a resolution calling for the end to the war.

Tuesday night, the Council heard another two hours of public testimony, mostly echoing the previous week’s sentiments. Avoiding taking a side on a divisive political topic, the Council supported a more generic resolution to join the United Against Hate campaign.

The effort focuses on promoting diversity and stamping out identity-based hatred, such as that aimed at protected statuses including gender, sexual identity, race, religion, ethnicity and age.

“It is our hope that this focus on coming together to stand united against hate will grow throughout the nation. Hate is toxic. Hate can tear communities apart,” said Jacquelyn McCormick, chair of United Against Hate Week

United Against Hate is an offshoot of the anti-bullying Not In Our Town campaign.

While the campaign will see the City celebrate United Against Hate for a week in November each year with a series of events, details as to what the resolution entails remained vague.

Vice Mayor Kevin Park lumped his public petition “addressing the concerns brought by constituents” at the last meeting with the United Against Hate resolution.

While he acknowledged that the Israeli-Palestinian war is a global matter, he said it warranted discussing.

“What happens a world away affects the residents of this city…Being heard, feeling supported, is the number one requirement for feeling that your council represents you,” Park said. “As a resident, I don’t come to city council to hear ‘note and file’ or ‘thank you very much.’”

The resolution saw unanimous Council support.

“There is a lot of fear in this room, but when we give into fear, we’ve given up the power to control our own lives,” said Council Member Karen Hardy. “Any decision made in fear is usually a bad one. I think that is what we need to be most aware of: to stay away from fear and to not be afraid of one another. We have no control over things that are thousands of miles away, no matter how much they hurt…the pain doesn’t go away, but no amount of resolution can bring someone back.”

City Says 49ers Should Pay for Overtime for Christmas Game

In a consent calendar item pulled for discussion, the Council approved negotiating with the 49ers to pay double time for a Christmas day game at Levi’s Stadium.

Consent items are typically voted on in a single motion, but one that asked the City to pay for overtime costs for the holiday game got the Council’s attention. The team has previously paid for overtime costs for City employees on holidays but was refusing to do so for this year’s Christmas day game against the Baltimore Ravens.

While police and fire will receive double time for the game, the Council was also pushing for the 49ers to pay roughly $100,000 in wages for other City employees required to work the Christmas day game, as it had done in previous years.

City Manager Jovan Grogan said the team refused to pay the wages since the Council upped pay for police during non-holiday NFL games. Agreements between the City and the Forty Niner Management Company (ManCo) do not obligate ManCo to pay the overages.

Although Measure J prevents the City from paying for costs of NFL games, the City is on the line for costs in excess of those negotiated, such as overtime for holidays.

The City submits the bill for the cost to ManCo, who would then in turn request reimbursement for any overages not detailed in the contract agreements. Any cost incurred by the City would come out of revenue from non-NFL events, such as concerts.

The Council unanimously agreed to accept approving the overtime and directed City employees to continue negotiating with ManCo to cover the cost.

Council Member Anthony Becker was absent. The next regularly scheduled meeting is Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024 in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1500 Warburton Ave. in Santa Clara.

Members of the public can participate in the City Council meetings on Zoom at https://santaclaraca.zoom.us/j/99706759306; Meeting ID: 997-0675-9306 or call 1(669) 900-6833, via the City’s eComment (available during the meeting) or by email to PublicComment@santaclaraca.gov.

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3 Comments
  1. Jim 2 months ago
    Reply

    The “next” 20 story building in Santa Clara should be constructed at the Pruneridge Golf Course. Take over the site by eminent domain and let the residents in South Santa Clara bask in the “glory” of a high rise.

  2. Fred 2 months ago
    Reply

    Works for me. Let’s also build more around Lisa Gilmor’s office

  3. Sara 2 months ago
    Reply

    Hi there, thank you for recapping the last city council meeting. I’m not sure if you were in attendance the entire time (it was another long one!) but there are a few important points missing or actually misrepresented in your article. I think its important to note that dozens of Santa Clara residents came out to express their grief about thousands of lives lost in the war and many Palestinan residents spoke about their family members who have been killed in the bombings in Gaza or are currently displaced and in dire circumstances. This is related to Councilmember Karen Hardy’s comment about loss – she mentioned in her closing comment that she lost her father 50 years ago.

    Also, your statement: “Avoiding taking a side on a divisive political topic, the Council supported a more generic resolution to join the United Against Hate campaign.” is incorrect. The majority of the Council took a very clear side.

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