Santa Clara City Council Review: Four Councilmembers Flip Flop and Want Higher Densities for El Camino Real Specific Plan Plus Three More Year of Study

By Robert Haugh

Santa Clara started studying the El Camino Real Specific Plan in 2017. That was five years ago. And we’re still not done. Even after three study sessions that happened earlier this year.

In fact, we won’t be done for three more years. Wow.

Last night, the City Council majority voted to study the plan some more. They asked City staff to study “Alternative 1” and include the original staff proposal that they unanimously rejected in June. 

That’s right. They want to study the plan that just four months ago they said would be too dense. It would allow the development of tall buildings that would cast shadows on existing single-family homes near El Camino Real. Double wow.

This time, Councilmembers Anthony Becker, Suds Jain, Karen Hardy, and Kevin Park flip flopped. They voted in the majority, 4-3.

So now the City will spend three more years and $900,000 to revisit the El Camino Specific Plan with taller building heights. The goal is to increase housing with higher densities.

Park even said that around Santa Clara “we should be really looking at 10 stories or taller.”

Mayor Lisa Gillmor, Vice Mayor Raj Chahal, and Councilwoman Kathy Watanabe voted for “Alternative 2.”

That plan would have kept in place the City Council’s June decision for the El Camino Real: 4-story limit for all buildings, 2-story limit for residential, and 3-story limit for mixed-use. 

“We need density in Santa Clara but not in every neighborhood,” said Gillmor.

Alternative 2 would have also taken about 9 months and cost $50,000.

Maybe when the plan comes back in three years, it’ll be delayed again. With this City Council majority, it’s possible.


  1. Oh sure you want us residents to conserve water but builders who want to build 10-20 story resident living condos just have to ask the city counsel members who control permits. The counsel will put up fake arguments about it but in the end the developers always get the permits. Goodby Santa Clara as we use to know it.

    • Manuel, blame Kevin Park.
      He has no problem with 10-story bldgs. on ECR.
      These council are ruining Santa Clara.
      49ers probably hope to use housing for staff
      and players.

  2. I was talking to a friend about this the other day and said I doubted this plan would ever be enacted. By the time they quit screwing around the state and federal thugs will outlaw single family homes and eliminate local zoning.
    The idea that ECR is a major transit corridor solely because it has a bunch of empty buses running up and down it is ludicrous.

  3. Karen’s flip flops are more like bellyflops! Loud and make a big mess. Just like her bellyflop about concert curfew.
    When is her reelection?

    Karen. Gees. So well named.

    And can’t stay awake at meetings.

  4. I feel sorry for the LGBTQ community in Santa Clara. Council member Anthony Becker is trying to be your representative. This unimpressive loser has not been able to hold a job his entire life. At 35 he is renting a room. But he needs a political edge and you are it.

    What a disgrace to the successful LGBTQ community to have this pasty white con man trying to appropriate your agenda.

    At Council last night Anthony Becker was trying to take credit for many things that were already in place. He so desperately wants this identity, but he is just a sham.

    Anthony Becker has nothing to offer so he’s trying to culturally appropriate the LGBTQ community. I strong leader wants more than rainbow crosswalks.

  5. This is the problem with these so called specific plans, they never come to fruition or if they do they take to long to develop and the area is already built out before the plan is complete. The City spends an incredible amount of money and resources putting these in place only to have a later council in all of their wisdom reimagine the plan to something else. This El Camino Plan which has been in the works for years had four inept council members do a complete 180 in only three months and will cost the city over one million dollars in fees only to restudy the project they had already voted to approve, what a waste of time and money. The other total mess is the Downtown plan. Now members of the Downtown group want to move City Hall into an area that it cannot fit. It is time to junk all of these plans and let property owners develop their land as they want within current city codes. The city council needs to stop pampering to lobbyists and little facebook groups.

  6. An additional $900,000 for the El Camino Specific Plan. I was a resident in the original committee. The plan is very forward thinking, perhaps it doesn’t meet the new liberal plan to take us into socialism.

    This is why the city gets such low turnout when you ask for the residents to spend their time and give input into a new scenario. I feel my time was wasted.

    In addition the wacky new 49er backed council members hasn’t help our city one bit. It will be interesting to calculate their damage.

  7. “Maybe when the plan comes back in three years, it’ll be delayed again. With this City Council majority, it’s possible.” Robert here’s a thought.Let’s just get rid of the council majority.Period.

  8. City Counsel meetings use to be shown on Chanel 6, what happen to that? I never know when Counsel meets. .
    Home game not require proof or Masks, great! Have a great time.

  9. I was born and raised in S C and take train ride where ever we want to go or visit& against high rise anything except another Senior development such as Liberty Towers. Just for Seniors especially born here but unable to afford any expensive Apts. Counsel members should not have changed minds. I thought that the public shouldd get to vote an any more buildings period. This is our townn not the counsels to mismanage.
    You should have built 4 story Apt. building at or very close to train depot so we can take train for trips & to visit families, etc.
    You should have figured that out a long time ago. I think we need senior on C C to help you manage out town etc. The last time C C was in charge too much, we lost our downtown. Yes I and other family are on com. to bring back better downtown than we have now. Please remember people aew more important than things OR money. Small minds are interested in money and power, you should care about the right thing for the people.
    Please ask the people what we want & need. I have 3 sisters who feel the same way. Thank you for this opportunit to express my thoughts,ideas and feelings.

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