Council Meeting Highlights
By Robert Haugh
In yet another marathon meeting that didn’t end until 2 a.m., a myriad of items were addressed at the March 21 Council meeting.
New Sports Park – Five New Soccer Fields Coming
We heard a detailed report on the new sports park south of Reed Street between Lafayette and Grant Streets, adjacent to the dog park. Unfortunately, the facility isn’t slated for completion until 2019. The facility has over $14 million allocated to erect five lighted synthetic soccer fields on the nine-acre site. Mayor Lisa Gillmor asked about lighting for the adjacent dog park.
Worker Retention Ordinance Passes Unanimously
After approximately two hours of discussion with fervent support from local union workers, the Council voted unanimously (Patricia Mahan absent) to adopt a worker retention ordinance. The business community, led by the Chamber of Commerce, made a relatively weak showing and lost this issue badly. Mayor Gillmor and Vice Mayor Dominic Caserta led this effort on the council.
Santa Clara is believed to be the first “small” city in the country to adopt such an ordinance. San Jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego are among other cities with worker retention ordinances. Interim City Attorney Brian Doyle was unsure if the ordinance could be upheld if challenged, since the matter has not been reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Police Double Time at Levi’s Stadium – 49ers Promise to Cover $35,000 in Double Time Costs for Game Day Security
Interim City Manager Rajeev Batra reported that the 49ers agreed to pick up the costs induced by double time promised by the Police Chief and City Manager for the Jan.1 49ers game. He also stated that the funds will not come from the stadium’s discretionary fund or the City’s general fund. 49ers VP Jim Mercurio confirmed the 49ers are covering the costs of SC POA officers.
Mayor Lisa Gillmor brought up that overtime and extra pay is a violation of Measure J. So the 49ers were really the only ones who could legally pay the officers. Police Chief Mike Sellers read a lengthy prepared statement, but never once addressed why his proposal violated Measure J as Stand Up for Santa Clara pointed out in an email earlier yesterday.
Also of interest: the staff report listed reasons for the staffing shortage for that game included the national holiday, holiday travel plans, a rigorous year and that “previous football games between these two teams have resulted in higher than usual volume of police service and arrests.”
SummerHill Project – Lights On Or Lights Off?
After agendizing reconsideration of their project (2232-2240 El Camino Real – Mayuri Restaurant, Calmar Cycles, Academy of Salon Professionals, Verizon) that was vetoed by Council by a 4-3 vote on March 7, Summerhill withdrew at the last minute their request to present their appeal.
SummerHill re-submitted the project with a few changes – eliminating the fifth story, converting 2-bedroom units to studios and 1-bedroom units (albeit still the same number of units), increasing the retail to 17,909 square feet as well as adding an approximately 1,250 square foot community meeting room.
They likely didn’t think they had the votes to move forward and didn’t want to risk a second rejection.
There are still some questions, such as if the budget complies with Measure J, but this is the first stadium authority budget that has detailed information. What was originally a one-page document is now 30 pages. Kudos to Acting Finance Director Angela Kraetsch for this. Her performance in the last month, raises the question: what the heck was Gary Ameling doing for the last three years?
The council approved the budget but will review it in six months, after the stadium audit is completed.
Vice Mayor Caserta’s Yosemite Conference Report
Vice Mayor Dominic Caserta reported briefly on his attendance at the Yosemite Policy Makers Conference held March 16-19. It sounds like it was the greatest thing since Woodstock. He enjoyed his time so much that he thinks more Council members should attend. Coincidentally, he posted a photo of himself, his wife and son, on Facebook, in Yosemite. The image was posted during the Council meeting at around 9 p.m. during the debate about worker retention.
We broke news of his costly Yosemite trip last month.
Can the city restrict Facebook during the council meetings? This is inappropriate.
You were up to 2 a.m. at the meeting and then wrote about this by the time I had my morning coffee and muffin. That’s impressive. I’m glad I read this every morning. There’s no reason to wait 1-2 weeks for the Santa Clara Weekly to cover the same issues. They don’t even deliver every week. The writing has gotten so bad that I use it for my bird cage. Thanks for keeping us informed. Get some sleep.