Harbir Bhatia Hides Employment with Developer SiliconSage in her Council Campaign

By Robert Haugh

City Council candidate Harbir Bhatia worked for local developer SiliconSage until a few months ago.

But that’s not clear on her ballot statement. Bhatia lists a lot of things, except her most recent employer. 

Bhatia tells us that she worked for SiliconSage from December, 2018 to May, 2020.  

But there’s no mention of her employer in a story that appeared just a few days after she left the developer. That was a profile piece in San Jose Spotlight that called her a “longtime civic entrepreneur.”

Bhatia left SiliconSage days before running for City Council because “I wanted to make sure there was no room for conflict of interest,” Bhatia said.

Bhatia said that she worked “on multiple projects around the Bay Area but not in Santa Clara.”

But Bhatia did work on a Santa Clara development project in 2019. It wasn’t for SiliconSage. She worked on the massive Mariani development project, as we reported back then.

Bhatia’s work for Mariani doesn’t appear on her ballot statement or campaign website even though it’s a major Santa Clara project.

According to multiple sources in the labor movement in the South Bay and East Bay, SiliconSage builds little or no affordable housing units in their projects. They say Bhatia has been involved in these development projects in the South Bay and Fremont.

The South Bay Labor Council interviewed Bhatia earlier this year for the District 1 Council seat. The organization turned down Bhatia and endorsed Kathy Watanabe for re-election.

26 comments

  1. I live in District 1 and am the HOA President for our community in the 49ers Backyard neighborhood. All I know is that Kathy has been exceedingly responsive, helpful and available when we have had concerns or issues that needed addressing by the city. I don’t know Ms. Bhatia – it appears she has been very active in local organizations and I respect that – but I see no reason to vote against an incumbent who I know for a fact has been very effective in representing the interests of our district.

  2. Thank you to Burt Field for his detailed and accurate posts. Those who are ranting against the current city council for not “getting along” with the 49ers organization and putting the responsibility for making things right on Santa Clara don’t seem to understand that the 49ers have tried to cheat Santa Clarans out of the money that we should be “rolling in.” When they announced the move down here, I wondered why San Francisco just let them go, rather than fighting to keep them. Their subsequent bad behavior towards us citizens, our council, our city and the Measure J contract we voted on was answer enough. If anyone should be coming to the table to “make things right”, it should be the 49ers.

  3. When you talk out of both sides of your mouth, it will catch up with you. Storytime doesn’t make up for dishonesty.
    The truth will set you free.

  4. Anonymous person, only Anthony Becker doesn’t understand conflict of interest. How does Apple have a conflict with the city? My god, you are running for office again. Great knowledge base. I guess your writer was unavailable. DOH!

    • I’m legitimately laughing at you “Becker’s Conflict”. Why bring Anthony Becker into this? All you can do is cry and name-call when you don’t have legitimate criticisms. While I’m honored you compared me to the qualified future councilperson from D6, my point still remains. I know that SiliconSage does have conflict of interest with the city. But again, Harbir was on the community benefits side, and she fought for more affordable housing.

      Keep being classy, Becker’s Conflict. By the way, Anthony is a qualified individual who will fight for Santa Clarans, including minorities.

      Cheers!

    • Harbir does not like small business. Many people in Fremont Centerville lost their business thanka to the so called relocation at Silicone Sage Builders. She failed to report this is her employment history. She should be ashamed to run for office.

  5. I am quite disappointed with the quality of the criticisms in this article. People need to remember that corporations has many individuals in it; each with their own views on what the organization does. At SiliconSage, Harbir worked on the community benefits side. She fought for more affordable housing. If it wasn’t for her and other like-minded individuals, SiliconSage wouldn’t have put even a little bit of affordable housing in their developments.

    You can’t judge someone by where they worked. If we used that argument for Apple, we could say that their employees should all resign because their company has sweatshops in China. The real world is not as black and white as the author presents in this article. I have a healthy dislike for the Chamber of Commerce, but not everyone there is a bad person.

    Harbir has been a community advocate for her whole life. She has seen how the decisions made at City Council directly affect people’s lives on the ground. She actually knows how to work with people and organizations that she disagrees with. This in contrast with the current majority bloc on the council, who has made it their goal to fight with Levi’s like 5-year-olds. I disagree with Harbir on many issues, but I know that she can capably weigh the options and make the right decisions for Santa Clara.

    I loathe Levi’s Stadium. It should have never come into Santa Clara. But now it is here, we should be making money from it. That shouldn’t be controversial. Just because they needed an enemy for the election, they cut the Visitors’ Bureau without a replacement in place.

    I have suffered because of the decisions that the majority bloc have made, with regards to the stadium and the new Tasman housing projects. So in my honest opinion, I say vote these politicians out.

    District 1: Vote for Harbir Bhatia
    District 4: Vote for Kevin Park
    District 5: Vote for Suds Jain
    District 6: Vote for Anthony Becker

    In 2022, we will vote out Lisa Gillmor, and finally put an end to this political dynasty.

    It would be a privilege to have Harbir on the City Council.

    PS: Don’t call me a shill or a troll. Don’t call me someone who is bought by the 49ers. Actually try and counter my points instead of just name-calling.

    Thank you and have a wonderful day!

    • “Poor Mariani Family” as stated by Harbir surprised me and I think it shows exactly how she supported them and not the community when she was involved with community meetings. She had me fooled back then, but not now.

    • Anon, you want us to respond w/o name calling and elevate the conversation? This after your comment “…who has made it their goal to fight with Levi’s like 5-year-olds.”?
      If there are only two choices, fight the 49ers or cave to them I choose fight. Hold them to the contract.
      I don’t begrudge someone the right to work where they choose, not at all. But why didn’t Habir brag about how much she accomplished while working for this developer?
      Could it be that high density is a hot button in Santa Clara and she may not want to be identified so closely with a large developer?
      Or could it be that she was promoting Silicon Sage and Mariani developments but is not registered as a lobbyist?
      In any case, this isn’t as transparent a campaign as we would like to see.
      And thanks for your recommendations for the election. Just vote the opposite of your slate and Santa Clara will come out ahead.

      • In my opinion, Harbir should talk about how she fought for affordable housing as part of a developer. But she has done other wonderful things as well. It’s possible that it just slipped her mind and that’s not a point of focus for her.

        You’re right. I shouldn’t have said that they were fighting like 5 year olds. I apologize and we can move past that. But it says a lot about the fact that you still haven’t addressed any of my claims. The establishment has been in power for many years, and what has that led us to: A $34M deficit. That is financial management at its finest.

        You are presenting a false dichotomy. Fighting the stadium or caving to the stadium aren’t the only options. Harbir on the other hand will work with the stadium so that it can generate revenue. (For the record, she fought against it). We need revenue to decrease the deficit.

        Or would you prefer budget cuts to the services we have in this city?

        I’m sure you are a nice person mrhmyers, but you’re wrong on this.

  6. Kathy Watanabi has done a great job for the North sides District 1. Kathy protects the neighborhoods around the stadium, unlike Habir who supports the 49ers and weekday late night venues disturbing the childrens and parents sleep in the connecting neighborhoods.

    Habir is unproven with many conflicts unlike Kathy Watanabi who is a proven council member that puts the residents first!

    I noticed Habir did not confirm the question of her employment at Silicon Sage.

    • Go to District 1. The plane noises are a lot worse than the stadium’s noises. Don’t just say things for the sake of saying them.

      When COVID hit, Harbir literally helped create the Santa Clara Community Coalition. They created 40,000 cloth masks. She designed face shields that were approved by Kaiser. She did this as a community member. Imagine how much she could get done as City Council member. So I think she’s proven her ability to lead during a crisis.

      • Before the stadium was built, people who looked to live in this area easily understood flight patterns and plane noise. My wife grew up in Foster City, directly in the flight path of SFO. In time the family got use to the noise, but they couldn’t complain about it given the airport was already there when they purchased the house.
        The great thing about San Jose Airport is it is one of only a few in the country with a noise curfew.
        That said, if they made the decision to purchase, or rent in this area with full knowledge of the the airport it was their decision to make.
        Now, adding a stadium and all that goes with it after the fact is difficult. To just blindly say and expect families to also now accept a whole new layer of invasive noise and traffic just because they should already be use to it makes no sense at all.
        Remember on top of the noise you also have game day (event) road closers. This creates parking issues and egress for the families and friends who just want to come and go from their own house. Now add in the pedestrian traffic that can start early in the day, and end long after the event has ended.
        Next morning when you go outside you get to possibly deal with new issues like cans, bottles or just normal trash.
        Burt Field

        • THANKS FOR THOSE WORDS BURT FIELD.

          IN 2018, TWO COUNCILMEMBERS were voted to CC and
          Said they were against changing curfew. Oh, once they got won,
          Oh they changed their mind about curfew. I noticed these two
          Councilmembers are backing this person harbor boatea.

          YOU DON”T HAVE TO BE A ROCKETSCIENCE TO SEE THE
          WRITING ON the WALL WITH BOATEA.

      • Santa Clara Rotary gave the money to a company in Sunnyvale to make masks and Harbir gets the credit because her shills want her elected. What a joke. What did the Rotary do to help Santa Clara.They should be ashamed. Please. Just stop with the BS. Its getting too deep.

  7. Robert, you know when you asked about my experience with Silicon Sage I answered truthfully, but then why twist the truth and add more lies? Whe drag poor Marianni family or SiliconSage into this.

    You do know all of the truth is available online. So what’s there to hide? But that’s ok, I know you need to make a living by supporting my opposition. But just FYI truth looks far better on you than lies! Hopefully you will use truth to help your blog grow. I am sure you would get a lot more support than the few folks who have been misled and misinformed.

    Richard or Paul Casper is my elder, so I won’t use the same style of attack.

    Guys if you love the city, try a different approach. Maybe try on integrity, try getting to know me and others rather than attacking. Santa Clarans are tired of the divisive, cheap, primitive, and outdated ‘politics as usual’ style. You will be surprised how well it might work :). You all are holding the city back and wasting your energies from being constructive and productive. If you have ideas and want to work together let’s do that. Because my parents didn’t raise me to behave this way, so I won’t getting to this kind of discussion more.
    Your loyalty to some is endearing. But stick with the old that is gold not coal.
    Another one of your usual commentators used to affectionately respond to my ‘let’s all get along’ with ‘Harbir you are being idealistic. That doesn’t really happen’, but that the problem. Let’s try because if we don’t reach for the ideals then we wil keep accepting less and less, until we are no more. So maybe you want to consider that ?
    I will let you all get back to this discussion.

    Tata! Have a wonderful day

  8. Blah, blah, blah. Is this all you’ve got? Harbir forgot to mention this or that, boo hoo. Please. I’ve known Harbir for 5+ years. She is never not volunteering! She started volunteering in her community when she was a kid in Michigan and Ohio. Weekends were about giving back to the community, her dad told her. This current council has done nothing to repair the relationship with the 49ers and this is a shame. $$$ lost due to poor management. Santa Clara should be rolling in money like other major cities with state of the art stadiums. But no, not Santa Clara. The city is too busy nursing old resentments or just too stuborn to admit they are doing anything wrong. This current council can not even solve the simplest of issues, how to hold concerts on weekends. News flash, this is not rocket science!

    • Where do I start with this comment?
      A. We are suppose to just understand that this candidate forgot / omitted on their official Ballot statement that she was just employed and working for multiple developers in Santa Clara? Kind of important when you are talking about running for Public Office.
      B. It’s somehow the Cities job to repair a relationship screwed up by the current owner of a NFL franchise?
      C. Somehow the City is at fault for poor Stadium Management and lost revenue?
      D. Show me a list of Cities that are “Rolling in the Money” due to those Cities building a Publicly financed stadium for a NFL Franchise? I can show you a list of Cities that have suffered dramatic fiscal damage due to trying to appease a NFL team. Ask St. Louis how it’s all worked out for them with the departure of the Rams or the NFL Cardinals.

      I am all for fixing issues within the City, but not at the cost of giving up my City.
      Please explain to me why that relationship repair fall should fall on our shoulders.

      1. Santa Clara has never sue the 49ers.
      2. Santa Clara has never spent hundred of thousands of dollars to interfere with local elections.
      3. Santa Clara has never asked them to stop paying their rent.
      4. Santa Clara has never asked them to reset their own rent, only to actually have it raised.
      5. Santa Clara has never reneged on any written or verbal agreement with this local company.
      6. Santa Clara has never mismanage the stadium to the point of losing that contract that was given to them.
      7. Santa Clara has have never hidden any financial cost / profits or business dealings, and when asked we have done what the courts have requested us to do.
      8. Santa Clara has yet to see the “Real” financial books, something you would think a business partner would be willing to do, and that is what this company is to our City, they are a business partner.

      Finally… Just to let you know, the date, time curfew restrictions were well stated in the original Stadium contract which the 49ers signed.
      Personally I can’t think of anything we can do more to support this company than we already have.
      It’s time for Jed York (49ers) to come to the table and offer more than another lawsuit.

      If I could only roll back time and ask San Francisco just one question.

      “If you had to do it over, would you do business with the San Francisco 49ers again?”

      Burt Field

  9. Just had a friend, fellow Santa Clara resident who still subscribes to the Mercury News (Yes some people still subscribe to this rag as well) send me over an article, dated 9/22/20.
    Take a wild guess who they recommend for the Santa Clara City Council.
    Guys I hope we have all figured this out. This is not going to go away. Jed York has time and money. He has figured out we will not be pushed around and are not for sale.
    So call me simple, but anyone who is backed by the 49ers, or the Mercury who is funded by the 49ers I am against.
    Burt Field

  10. I personally am more concerned with her relationship with the 49ers and the debunked Chamber of Commerce. The 49ers have shown themselves to be poison for the city of Santa Clara. The 49ers have lost every lawsuit against the city and withheld millions of dollars as well as financial information for years. The only reason to back these thieves are for your own personal gain.

    Being an officer in the embezzling Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce is a little sketchy as well. Remember the chamber is responsible for cheating the city out of thousands and thousands of dollars.

    Silicone Sage one of the worst builders in Santa Clara, they made our Hall of shame sc4scg.com. They ran out of money on two different projects leaving them make it for a while. No one I would recommend for a future project.

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