A History of the Mariani Project and Neighborhood Objections
By Howard Myers
The Mariani Project is a proposal to change the property housing the Mariani’s Inn & Restaurant – and the parcel across Buchanan into high density apartments. A brief history:
Feb. 2014– First outreach meeting. The plan was 511 units at 60 units/acre vs. the 37 allowed in the General Plan. They were expecting 35 – 50 but 250 semi-rowdy neighbors showed up.
Sept. 2014- After many meetings with the City and developer, a plan of 7.79 acres, 494 units and 52.5 units/acre was presented to a less volatile group of 100 neighbors at the Community Center. All strongly opposed to the still high density.
Oct. 2014– This was an election year and all candidates were invited to another meeting at the Community Center with about 100 neighbors. The candidates gave a brief statement and almost every resident got to speak their piece about the density.
Dec. 2014- The plan was submitted to the City Council. About 120 residents showed up and the plan was turned away with instructions to work within the General Plan.
June 2015– A new plan was presented, using only one of the two parcels. 315 units on 3.28 acres or 97 units/acre. Another public meeting was held at Mariani’s with over 300 passionate but well-behaved attendees. The only people speaking in favor of the high density project were from outside the area. It did not have enough support to be submitted to the council.
Jan. 2016- A plan was submitted with the same 315 units, but included in the plan was more apartments on the second parcel to be built in five years, calculating density for the entire project as one. They claim the two parcels are legally contiguous and can be combined for density calculation. They argue you can take all the units from one parcel and add them to the other to double the development density. But, the parcels are divided by a public thoroughfare and are not legally contiguous, so they cannot be combined simply to allow the developer to increase units above what the general plan allows.
Would you want eight acres of development put on three acres in your neighborhood?
June 2016– The plan was amended by adding pages of project justification.
The neighbors want something to be built to replace the aging buildings but it should not destroy the fabric of the neighborhood. The current proposal clearly does and it violates the general plan. Approving the project would send a strong message to all Santa Clara neighborhoods that quality of life doesn’t matter and neither does the general plan.
Again, the neighborhood is not against all development.For example, a large hotel would be good for the neighborhood and good for the city with different traffic and parking patterns from apartments.
To see why the neighbors fear building on that parcel, watch this 3-minute video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btx8aR99Xek&t=1s
EDITOR’S NOTE: Howard Myers is a neighborhood resident who has been a leader against the current development proposal. We asked him to write a brief history of the project. We have offered Lou Mariani, the project proponent, an opportunity to do the same. As this is one of the most controversial projects in Santa Clara, we will allow other voices, including our own to weigh in before this project is presented to the city council.