By Debbie Sparks, Diane Pizzo, Howard Myers, Linda Zazzara, Rich Bonito
It is very important to prevent the city from doing to our El Camino what they did to our downtown. Those that destroyed our downtown had good intentions and like you, they had the grandest of visions.
From the start the city misrepresented the objective of the El Camino Real Specific Plan by telling us the purpose was “…to implement the City’s General Plan goals and policies for the El Camino Real corridor by providing more detailed guidance for future land uses and urban design elements.”
The unspoken purpose has been to increase residential density not implement the General Plan.
- When a city planner was asked during a Citizens Advisory Committee meeting what would happen if the committee decided the density should be reduced, her response was “well that would defeat the purpose.” (quickly retracted, oops)
- In one example the Mariani property was increased over 100% from Community Mixed Use at 19 to 36 dwelling units per acre in the 2025 – 2035 General Plan to Corridor Mixed Use with 45 to 65 dwelling units per acre. This is not implementing the General Plan.
Also, this entire process has had the appearance of faux outreach.
Community feedback was gathered using completely unscientific methods.
- The feedback was not directed at people impacted nor limited to one opinion per participant in the ‘Pop-ups’ or online ‘survey’.
- The Community Advisory Committee was weighted with people and groups interested in getting rid of automobiles and promoting high density.
- US mail announcements were limited to people within 300 ft of the huge rezoning project to ‘save money’, reducing exposure to the very people actually impacted.
- This mailed notice is the only place we find this legal disclaimer. “If you challenge these land use decisions in court, you may be limited to raising only those issues you or someone else raised at this public hearing or in written correspondence delivered to the City at or prior to the public hearing.”
As is too often the case the general outcome appears to have been determined before the ‘investigation’ began. And the predetermined outcome is increased density.
Some on the council advocate for thousands of ‘micro units’ along the El Camino Real. No wonder we worry the city would do to our El Camino what it did to our downtown.
Again, those that destroyed our downtown had the best intentions and like you, grandiose visions. We see what that got us.
Editor’s Note: The authors represent Santa Clara for Smart Growth – Mariani Neighborhood Resident Group.