Guest opinion: Massive Mariani Development Proposal Is Not Fooling Neighbors

Guest opinion: Massive Mariani Development Proposal Is Not Fooling Neighbors

By Howard Myers

Lou Mariani has been trying to replace his hotel with high density apartments since Feb. 2014. In Dec. 2014, the mayor and council told Mariani to reduce his 51 units/acre plan to something that met the general plan of 37 units/acre. Instead, in 2015, he came back with a plan for 315 apartments at 96 units/acre.

This 96 units/acre plan is basically the same one he has been trying to get approved for more than two years. In his formal application in Jan. 2016 he designated 16 percent of the units as market-rate senior housing, but it was the same plan. In the last 18 months, there have been rumors of changes, additions, deletions, and new plans being submitted; but this has all been lipstick on the same pig.

No new plans, no renderings, nothing.

In July this year, Mariani scheduled six small, invitation-only, meetings they labeled ‘Community Outreach’. The city planner confirmed these were not outreach meetings, so attendance could be controlled by Mariani and his new consultant, Kevin Moore.

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In actual outreach meetings, Mariani invariably had his butt handed to him and he could get no positive comments. The intent must have been to elicit friendly comments about his project by arranging for more than half the attendees to be from outside the neighborhood, and some were even from outside of the city.

We thought it very important to go on record as to what the real neighbors thought.  We conducted a survey of those in the direct neighborhood or within 500 feet of it.

We received 99 returns for a 42.5 percent return rate, which for an email survey is remarkably high.

We found that 16 percent of the respondents had attended one of the recent meetings. But what we didn’t find was anyone that thought the project should be built as it is currently proposed.

When commenting on the conditions that cause neighbors the most concern, it isn’t surprising that quality of life was more important than property value.

Mariani has promised that if he is allowed to build his 315 units on the creek side of Buchanan, he will build a nice new hotel on the other side in 5 to 8 years. Eighty-five percent of the respondents think the chance of him keeping his promise is 10 percent or less.

The purpose of the survey is to present the real opinion of the neighborhood assuming Mariani will try to make points by using the nice complements his out-of-town attendees supplied.


  1. Please no more apartments Santa Clara is unlivable already due to too many people and over crowded roads and under performing schools
    And leave el Camino as retail shops restaurants and bars and bring back my Weinersnitzal and Taco Bell now
    And leave the trees alone on San Tomas

    • Unfortunately it is not just the Mariani Project that is happening as you all along El Camino Real notice. Yesterday in the San Jose Mercury an article was written on basically allowing more high density housing on El Camino Real in Sunnyvale as well as other things. I started digging into this. Folks this is not a city by city issue. Do a Goggle on Grand Boulevard Initiative. This is streaming high density housing from the state Level on down from what I can see. It will take a lot from us who live along El Camino and other big avenues to stop it. Dig into this initiative that I believe came out in 2011 (funny how high density really started popping up a year or two after in Santa Clara and continues!). Stop this we must!

    • You don’t hear much about UN’s Agenda 21 anymore, the brand was discredited but the Grand Boulevard is part of that plan.

      From an article written in 2015:

      Over the next 20 years 630,000 new residential units are projected by ABAG. ALL residential construction specified by the plan is be multi-family housing. 80% of this housing must be within ½ mile of the plan’s designated “transit corridors” (permits will not be granted outside these zones). One corridor, the El Camino Real, running from San Jose to San Francisco, will be transformed into a series of government controlled Stack ‘n Pack smart growth developments. The plan is that all private vehicles will be banned from what is to then be called “The Grand Boulevard.” Through the ABAG COG, the federal government has committed more than 300 billion, mostly highway tax dollars to this “Plan Bay Area.”

      ABAG is association of bay area gov’ts, but on things like adopting Plan Bay Area the 115 member cities didn’t get to vote, it was a committee of 18 people.

      Local gov’ts can resist this but they need to stand strong. When ABAG gives us a goal we must meet in terms of numbers of units it is a guideline but too many council members take it more seriously than their residents.

  2. How about we have meetings with neighbors and those outside and see what we can develop that will help the neighborhood? I have no clue what program can be used to create what we can propose for the 7.5 acres.

    To me your video about smart growth was key. But I’m open to taller development if it not too wide and if it is close to El Camino Real with a reasonable setback. And how about a park on the back side of the property with some “placemaking” that the City Council keeps talking about but doing nothing yet!

    I don’t understand why the Mariani family wants to build apartments, a hotel and senior apartments.
    So many of us have grown up with the hotel there so I understand a hotel and senior apartments as a lot of us are getting to the age where this would be great.

    But why don’t we propose a second hotel and eliminate non-senior apartments?

    Lastly, as you’ve said in the video, make sure that the development can not have traffic enter the neighborhood.

    • Re: I am pleased the video was effective. The locals should address the damage done to the neighborhood. Others can comment on what makes sense for the city. Private property rights are important so Mariani should be allowed to do what he wants but not at the expense of an entire neighborhood. The Villas, where Russell’s used to be does damage the neighborhood on the block adjacent by being so large and imposing on the singe family homes. However it doesn’t further destroy it with parking and traffic issues. It does qualify for The Santa Clara Hall of Shame, however.

  3. Thanks to everyone for their support. This is a closely-knit neighborhood that is very involved. We see the damage that could be done if not checked. The majority of us see that a hotel would damage us less and benefit the city a great deal.

  4. Seems like this kind of stuff is happening all up and down El Camino Real….About time to but the brakes on or get a moritorium in place to stop this high density building as well as hotels, massive retirement places,etc. Why is it that Cupertino allows Apple to build and yet tightens the rein in their city on housing so that workers can then load up here in Santa Clara…WHEN THE DENSITY PROBLEM WILL ONLY GROW.

  5. Mr. Myers makes a good argument using facts. Well done. The council would be foolish to ignore. It will start a major backlash against development in all neighborhoods if we think the general plan can be ignored.

  6. All Lou’s Buddy’s at the chamber are costing him a fortune. These designs are not cheap not to mention the Lost revenue and opportunity on both properties. I think this is the third revision I’ve seen and it’s not even close to being realistic. Got to be seven figures.

    The only one making money on this are the Lobbyists.

    The neighborhood is very reasonable and it’s just wants a project that fits the neighborhood and doesn’t overwhelm it.

  7. Solid opinion, Howard! These comments will definitely be incorporated in my decision making process. Extremely educational to me.

    • Wow nice to see you comment with your name Caserta. It’s a lot more fun when you comment with Lance, Lily, Bob, Diane lies, lies, lies and all your other alias names

    • I comment when it is me and your anger is a reflection of you whoever you are sad…

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