Vice Mayor Caserta’s State of the City from Chamber’s Outlook Event

Vice Mayor Caserta’s State of the City from Chamber’s Outlook Event

By Vice Mayor Dominic Caserta

Editor’s Note:  The speech has been edited for brevity. Below is approximately half the speech and represents the written text provided by city staff and is not a verbatim transcript of Caserta’s March 27 remarks.

Good evening and thank you for the opportunity to be here today to talk about my favorite subject – the exciting changes underway in the City of Santa Clara and the entire South Bay region, and the challenges we still have ahead of us.

With today’s climate, I want to emphasize that with your attendance here, it signifies that you care about this City and you want to be part of a bright future. It doesn’t matter if you work, live or play here – when you are in Santa Clara, you are a Santa Claran. Earlier this year, the City issued a statement to reassure citizens that it will stand in solidarity with those who may be the targets of discrimination and bigotry. Together, we will not tolerate any hate crime.

Regardless of ethnicity, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender or sexual orientation, the City of Santa Clara is proud to have you and will protect your rights.

Over the past year, the Council has put extra effort it placing the community first – encouraging the public to engage and participate to higher levels and provide invaluable feedback. We asked and boy did they listen!

We just had a Council Chambers overflowing with people who wanted to stand up and support the Worker Retention Ordinance. Because of their participation and input into the process, the Council unanimously approved the Ordinance which is designed to provide for the protection and retention of certain food and building services workers in Santa Clara.  The action was a true example of democracy working at its finest and I am proud to have been part of process.

The growth we are experiencing is obvious everywhere you look.  Construction projects big and small demonstrate that developers see tremendous opportunity in our region and they are investing in our future. They see the same Santa Clara that I see – a beautiful place to plant roots and make some money along the way. Yet, as enticing as Santa Clara is for developers, the Council has heard the community loud and clear that there needs to be a thoughtful and strategic approach to any new building.

We have focused development efforts with the City Place project – a $6.5 billion mixed use project that will be built on the site currently occupied by the golf course. This is not just the largest development in Santa Clara history, it is one of the biggest private development investments in all of Silicon Valley. The first phase will focus on retail, restaurants and entertainment venues – businesses often requested by our residents who would like more variety to choose from in their hometown.

Yet, with change, comes uncertainty and there will be many tough decisions ahead of us as we try to control and direct new development in a way that both takes care of our current needs and is respectful to our future needs 10 to 20 years needs from now. Those are not always the same thing.

For example, let’s look at housing.  As one of the most expensive housing markets in the U.S., the South Bay needs more housing stock of all types – single family . . . multifamily . . . owned and rental . . . studio, one, two, three, four and five bedrooms – there is an eager market waiting for whatever gets built.

In the City of Santa Clara, we have placed a high priority on adding residential projects designed for seniors, especially those that are affordable.

We must continue to look for solutions to the affordable housing crisis.

These are our immediate housing needs, but as I said earlier we are also challenged to look into the future and anticipate what we need to prepare for in years to come.  That brings us to the Millennial generation.  Right now the Millennials are in their late teens and 20s.  They are the future of this valley and their values and lifestyle preferences are quite different from the traditional ways we have lived and worked in Silicon Valley up to now.

It is far more likely that Millennials will continue to want the urban village look and feel as they go through the passages of life.

In addition to growth, building, open space and housing, we also need to be mindful of Mother Nature. The City Council has placed emphasis on sustainability efforts for decades and, now more than ever, are looking for ways to respect the environment. Silicon Valley Power has continued to be at the forefront of being a green power supplier and have been recognized for their outstanding efforts, initiatives and programs that promote the use of green power within homes and businesses and advance the development of green power sources.

I hope you’ve noticed that I am several minutes into my comments and I haven’t mentioned Levi’s Stadium.  That restraint in no way should suggest that I am any less excited about it than I was when we cut the ribbon in July 2014 to open the best stadium in the U.S.  Every time I see it, I still get a thrill — knowing what the City of Santa Clara and the 49ers accomplished in conceiving, funding and building this incredible regional asset in record time. And to be able to host Super Bowl 50 was an unforgettable honor and allowed us to showcase a region that is progressive, cosmopolitan, diverse, and growing.

And, as hard as it may be to toot your own horn at times, I have to just take a minute and say that the Santa Clara has done the impossible with regard to our financial situation. Not only did we have a balanced budget for 2016-17 but that was with the addition of nearly 69 newly funded positions to bring more and better services, and with – and here’s the amazing part – incredibly healthy reserve balances that were greatly depleted during the Great Recession.

The opportunities are limitless for the South Bay, but with great fortune comes great responsibility.  As government and business leaders, we must stay focused on balancing the needs of today with the needs of the next generation, and to serve both with development that will be a legacy we can all be proud of. Together, all of us in this room, have a social responsibility to work together to be part of the cause. I call upon all of you to become engaged with the Chamber of Commerce and to become engaged with the City Council. We depend on it and together, we can get from good to extraordinary.

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