By Robert Haugh
Money was the focus at last night’s Council meeting.
City staff presented a thorough analysis of possible revenue opportunities, including:
- Transit and Occupancy Tax (TOT)
- Cannabis Tax
- Documentary Transfer Tax
- Utility User Tax
- Infrastructure Parcel Tax
After lengthy discussion, the Council voted unanimously to pursue research on an infrastructure parcel tax and a cannabis tax. The TOT may be looked at down the road.
The parcel tax would be for $200 million total in current value, at a rate of $24 per $100,000 of assessed value. While the City has a myriad of needs, this parcel tax would support:
- George F. Haines International Swim Center relocation/construction
- Community Recreation Center updates/expansion
- Parks and trails improvements
- Library expansion
- Fire department reconstruction and updates
- Flood protection
A study done last year, showed a low approval rating with 38 percent definitely yes, 32 percent probably yes and nine percent leaning yes. Not good, according to city staff. The survey also did not comply with AB 195, legislation that was passed after the survey was started. It has specific requirements for ballot language with word limits. It revealed residents would like a “right-sized” swim center project, not the grand $200 million vision we have seen images of before. It may be beautiful, but too costly for Santa Clara taxpayers it seems.
A cannabis tax, according to City staff, could generate $1.2 million and $2.4 million annually. Staff recommended to have no more than three cannabis ventures in the City, in specific zoning areas. Related regulations would pertain to retail sales, cultivation, manufacturing, transportation, distribution and testing. Sources tell us the most beneficial facilities are the “supersize” facilities that serve like a Wal-Mart for cannabis buyers.
- The Council unanimously approved The Deck project at 3402 El Camino Real. This is a mixed-use project by John Vidovich at the former strip mall site near Lawrence Expressway that burned down two years ago. It will be 66 apartments with about 10,000 square feet of retail on the ground level, plus a parking structure, gym and outdoor event space. We’re glad this finally got approved after we heard community complaints about how long it took to get through the city process
- The Council approved a public safety agreement for Levi’s Stadium. This is something the City and Stadium Authority never had. This will protect the city against lawsuits that may be filed against city employees who are working at the stadium. The Stadium Authority’s insurance will cover them now. (Note: yesterday, we made a mistake and wrote that this item was the cap on public safety costs. Our bad. We’re still waiting for that issue to come back to the council.)
Councilwoman Teresa O’Neill was absent with an illness.