City Council Recap: Caserta and Mahan Grill Planning Commission Candidate About “Disrespect”

By Robert Haugh

The City Council interviewed five applicants for a vacant Planning Commission seat. Lance Salame was appointed. But that’s not the interesting story.

During the interview process, Vice Mayor Dominic Caserta and Councilwoman Patty Mahan zeroed in on candidate Hosam Haggag who is a Charter Review Committee member, community activist, Old Quad resident and past contributor of video commentary to this website.


The two councilmembers accused Haggag of personally attacking them and disrespecting them at previous council meetings. They were not happy campers. We’ve been watching council meetings for a long time and we’ve never seen councilmembers grill a Santa Clara resident or commission applicant as personally and aggressively as Caserta and Mahan did last night. But Haggag didn’t back down. He told them that their behavior was unprofessional and disrespectful and that they deserved to be criticized.  He also advised that they “should look in the mirror”  before criticizing him or others.

You can watch the drama here. The drama starts at around 2:07:15. Here is the full meeting link.

Mayor Lisa Gillmor interrupted Caserta to put an end to the personal questions and told her colleagues to focus on questions about the Planning Commission vacancy. When the City Council voted, Haggag had enough votes to be one of two finalists. But ultimately, Salame prevailed 4-3 with the votes of councilmembers Caserta, Mahan, Pat Kolstad and Teresa O’Neill.

Accessory Dwelling Units

Greg Popovich of Sonora-based Goldbar Builders made an informative study session presentation on Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs, a.k.a. granny units, in-law quarters, cottages) pertaining to affordable housing for teachers.

Housing Assistance for Teacher Stability (HATS) is a public-private partnership developed by Goldbar that helps fund, build and lease ADUs for teachers. The units are generally around 450 square-feet. He says teachers simply cannot afford living in the area, therefore Silicon Valley has a difficult time retaining qualified teachers. According to him, an average teacher housing unit costs $450,000 for school districts to build, a steep amount. ADUs are much less expensive.

Popovich says the program could be modified for other uses such as police and fire housing in the future. But now, “the teachers are crying for help,” he said.


Other Items:

Historic Preservation Ordinance

The council unanimously adopted a historic preservation ordinance.


The council approved by a 5-2 vote (Caserta, Mahan opposed) an amended existing ordinance temporarily prohibiting all commercial marijuana activity through December 31, 2018.



  1. Casserta reminds me of another blowhard that was on the San Jose City Council, Pierluigi Oliverio. Grandstanding at it’s best.

  2. It’s unfortunate when public officials don’t ask professionally. Sorry to read about Mr. Haggag’s experience. But I’m glad the council is looking at ADU’s for housing. Just don’t forget about the parking.

  3. One has to wonder if Mahan’s and Caserta’s verbal attacks on Mr. Haggag was about retaliation or about race? This was an opportunity to add more diversity to the Planning Commission. The candidate who received the appointment was no where near as qualified as Mr. Haggag. Whatever their reasons to verbally attack Mr. Haggag, Mahan and Caserta showed that ALL their years on the council have taught them nothing about decorum, respect or being able to take criticism. And these two are running for Mayor and County Supervisor? Hah! Show them the door. They are an embarrassment. They don’t stand for Santa Clara but their own agendas. I applaud Mr. Haggag in his responses to both immature councilmembers and taking the high road. He is the kind of person Santa Clara needs representing it.

    • I understand rallying behind Hosam for the hostilities displayed at the council meeting, but here’s a couple of facts you may not be willing to face: 1) the hostilities were on both sides (whether deserved or not is irrelevant), and 2) Hosam is not more qualified than Salame. Being more loud does not equate to being more qualified. Study the interviews more carefully. And what do you mean about “more diversity”? If you’re talking ethnic diversity, I don’t think you’ve taken a good look at the current planning committee. It’s plenty diverse. If you’re talking about background, Salame has actual background that applies to city planning, versus real estate minded people that currently make up the majority of the committee. The verbal attacks aren’t good, but don’t lose sight of the facts in the heat of the battle.

  4. Thanks for sharing the video. Wow. Caserta and Mahan are vicious. I’ve seen them treat people this way before. They are thin skinned and hypocrites for the way they treated him. I teach my children if you want respect, you must give it. Those two don’t deserve respect.

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