By Robert Haugh
The first Council meeting of 2018 kicked off the year with a lot of information. Almost 2.5 hours were spent in very rigorous study sessions. The current City staff seems to have their act together in a much better way than past city staffs. The Council and the public are getting more information and more detail in an efficient way than we’ve experienced in the past. This is great for the entire city.
Study Session: Cannabis Tax and Regulations
SCI Consulting Group and City staff presented a lot of information on the cannabis industry and potential fees and taxes. The consulting firm will continue working with staff and suggestions for ballot initiatives likely to appear on the November 2018 ballot. Because California voters passed Prop 64, which legalized personal recreational use and commercial activities related to cannabis, Mission City residents will soon decide how to regulate and tax it in our City. Our neighbors in San Jose seem to do quite well with their cannabis regulations and taxes. There’s no reason for us to let them inhale all the revenue.
Study Session: Living Wage Policy
City staff provided an analysis of the many Bay Area cities that currently have a living wage policy. Staff suggests engaging professional consulting services to evaluate this. This policy will cover city-owned facilities, including Levi’s Stadium and the Santa Clara Convention Center. This could be another showdown between the 49ers and Labor on an employee and wage issue which puts Councilman Dominic Caserta in a tough place. Last time, Caserta was the swing vote and sided with the 49ers to hire Landmark Event Staffing last April — an issue that may come up during his interview with the Central Labor Council for an endorsement for County Supervisor which we predicted last year.
Editor’s Note: Mayor Lisa Gillmor had to leave the council meeting early to catch a red-eye flight to the US Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington, DC. We’re happy she’s representing the city and not just attending an out-of-town wedding.
Mega Development Proposal for the Yahoo! Site
The City Council reviewed a proposed mega development on the nine-parcel 46-acre former Yahoo! site near Levi’s Stadium and City Place.
A representative for the developer told us that it’ll be a total of approximately 10.5 million square feet on 46 acres. Wow. As a comparison, City Place is 9 million square feet on 240 acres.
The representative also said there would be 6,000 housing units on the 46-acre site. Double wow. As a comparison, Mountain View is building 10,000 housing units north of Bayshore on 500 acres. (Hat tip to one of our readers from yesterday for the info).
We also found out from questions that Vice Mayor Kathy Watanabe and Councilwoman Debi Davis asked that the developer is considering buildings that will be 35-60 stories high. Triple wow.
Interestingly, we learned none of this information from Director of Community Development Andrew Crabtree in his presentation or his staff report.
It’s a good thing for the public that some council members ask good questions and have a commitment to transparency. Davis also asked that the projects’ information and renderings be placed on the city website. As of the meeting, it didn’t exist anywhere for the public to review it.
Suds Jain, speaking for himself and not as a planning commissioner, said the development is way too big and doesn’t have enough open space. He compared it to developments in Hong Kong. We’ll be able to judge for ourselves — if the city staff puts the information online.
After over two hours of discussion, the Council voted unanimously to move ahead with the staff recommendation to allow the project through the “gatekeeper process” that they established last year.
It’s not a project approval. It allows the developer to continue to work with staff. But based on Council comments and what we’re hearing from the community, the current project will overwhelm the Northside infrastructure. It’ll be interesting to see what the next version of the project looks like.
Mahan said that the Council should take a field trip to China to look at similar developments by the developer, Kylli/Genzon. But she quickly said she was joking because some blog will report it. (Note to Patty: There’s nothing wrong with a trip if you’re doing real research for the benefit of the city, as long as you’re not just going to an out-of-town wedding.
The Council voted unanimously to support the Planning Commission’s decision to convert an industrial building at 1800 De La Cruz Boulevard into an animal boarding facility. A public hearing was held because of an appeal from a neighboring business.
Silicon Valley Power & Inside Santa Clara Newspaper
Pat Kolstad gave kudos to Silicon Valley Power for their three JPA’s receiving A+ ratings from Standard & Poor’s. He also gave a quick kudos to City staff for the quarterly Inside Santa Clara newspaper. Watanabe called it the best free newspaper in Santa Clara. That would mean the Santa Clara Weekly is in second place for free newspapers — not bad for a two-paper town.