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.
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.
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.