Council Review: Council Allocates Money for Garbage Rate Relief, Limits Food Delivery Fees, and Approves Courthouse Relocation Letter

By Robert Haugh

It was a busy and productive council meeting yesterday.

The City Council unanimously decided how to use $1.59 million of CARES Act funding available from the State for COVID-19 related expenditures.

$1 million will reimburse the General Fund for COVID-related expenses. That will free up money to provide a credit/rebate that reduces Santa Clara garbage bills for six months for residential customers from August through January 2021.

Kudos to the Council for helping out all residents during these tough economic times. Special kudos to Councilwomen Teresa O’Neill and Kathy Watanabe for proposing this idea in July.

The remaining $590,000 will increase the Small Business Assistance Grant that has helped a lot of local Mission City businesses.

Santana West Settlement

In January 2018, Santa Clara beat San Jose in a lawsuit regarding the Santana West development.

This was a big deal. Some former Councilmembers (Patty Mahan and Dominic Caserta) opposed the lawsuit. So did some City Staff. But Mayor Lisa Gillmor and the council majority stuck to their guns.

In the settlement agreement, San Jose had to pay Santa Clara $5 million within 10 days of the issuance of a grading/building permit for the Santana West project. The Mission City collected and the Council unanimously decided how to spend the money.

  • Benton Bicycle Lanes, $1.4 million                      
  • Lick Mill Boulevard Pedestrian Beacons Upgrade, $500,000
  • 1601 Civic Center Drive Low-Income Housing Development, $1.6 million 
  • COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program, $1.5 million 

Food Delivery Fees

The Council unanimously decided to cap the fee that food delivery services charge to 15 percent. Places like Uber Eats, Postmates, Grubhub, Door Dash and Caviar charge as much as 30 percent. Wow.

But City staff heard complaints from Santa Clara restaurants that they couldn’t survive the pandemic by paying such high fees. 

Downtown Courthouse Relocation

At the request of Bob O’Keefe, the Council agendized the issue for discussion.

O’Keefe is a board member and leader of the Old Quad Residents Association. He’s also a candidate for City Council District 5, representing the downtown.

City Staff presented a draft letter written to the State’s Judicial Council asking about the possible relocation of the Santa Clara County Courthouse. 

The Council unanimously approved the letter. Gillmor has an office in Franklin Square. So she abstained from the vote.

Kudos to O’Keefe for pushing this issue along. It’s a major objective for a lot of downtown residents, especially Reclaiming Our Downtown.

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