Santa Clara City Council Votes to Move Forward With Controversial Interim Housing Project

By Robert Haugh

The Santa Clara City Council voted 4-3 last night to move forward with the controversial 30-unit LifeMoves interim housing project on Lawrence and Benton.

The vote was continued from last week because there was so much public testimony — over seven hours. 

The Council deliberated for nearly five hours last night before casting votes. 

Councilmembers Anthony Becker, Suds Jain, Karen Hardy and Kathy Watanabe supported the proposal. Mayor Lisa Gillmor, Councilman Raj Chahal and Vice Mayor Kevin Park opposed the project.

Gillmor, Park and Chahal said the project lacked critical details regarding funding and protections for the City long-term.

The vote approves the City funding a portion of the project at a cost of $7 million. The City Manager will work on a formal letter of intent that will outline key details. It was new City Manager Jovan D. Grogan’s first meeting.

Becker read a long speech supporting the proposal and caused the Council chamber to erupt in chants of “recall, recall, recall.” And it wasn’t for the reason we’d expect. He argued that the issue was a racial one.

Mayor Gillmor had to exercise her authority with the gavel to control the capacity crowd and allow everyone to speak.

The County of Santa Clara and LifeMoves are proposing the development, which includes 24/7 support services and will house up to 120 people.

The project will return in approximately three months. 

For more information, visit the County’s webpage.


  1. It sounds like this project will cost, i.e. writing a open ended check. The accumulate effect of government costs are a self-fulfillling prophecy of increasing the public need.

  2. It is not accurate to say that Becker described the issue as a racial one and I assume by the issue you mean homelessness. He talked much more about classism and low wages for many jobs and NIMBY opposition to development and much more. And he is not wrong about that.

    I thought that Gillmor and Park and Chahal all brought up good points in describing why they were voting against the proposal as presented. I wish they and other opponents focused their criticisms in a way that would lead to their criticisms being taken off the table. For example I agree with Gillmor that it is troubling that there has not been a clear enough answer for how budgeting works after seven years. But I do think that she seems satisfied to have this not answered clearly because it gives her a strong justification to vote against the proposal.

    Similarly I agree with Park that it is troubling that there has not been a clear enough answer about what barriers there are to entry into the proposed development. The woman from the county talked about some barriers that they do not want to be barriers but did not talk about the issues that people are concerned about when it comes to barriers other than there being a barrier against convicted sex offenders. No discussion of barriers or lack of barriers having to do with history of drug addiction or even current drug use.

    And there has been no clear answer from the county or Life Moves about the fear that people have that the development being a family development might be a Trojan horse and units end up housing individuals the community would find more threatening if the development is not fully occupied by families.

    But I did not see true effort or desire from the councilpeople who voted No to push for the project to be adjusted to meet their recommendations. Otherwise they would have listed a very clear set of recommendations and criticism and exactly what they wanted to see instead.

    For example instead of asking and waiting for a clearer answer of all the different things that could happen after seven years someone who really wants a good project here could ask or propose if it would be possible for the city to change the use of the project to one that is more permanent affordable housing instead of transitional housing. One that charges very affordable rent and does not require ongoing budget subsidy from the city but which still qualified for any federal or state or county funding they have been talking about.

    I do hope that the council talks about how distracting and annoying the signs of protestors were during the meeting. It is a bad precedent to allow people to be making signs during meetings to hold up as a way of speaking during meetings. That is what public commentary time is for. When people are holding up signs to fill up the camera frame it is very difficult to concentrate on what the actual speaker is saying. And I am sure that it makes it harder for the city council to focus on speakers as well.

  3. Welcome to Santa Clara, new City Manager.
    Wishing you many years of success!

    • Kevin Park… the new Anthony Becker, oh joy.
      One down, four to go.
      Who is next????
      Man, with all my humor, this is still one question that makes me sick to even have to think about.
      Santa Clara Residents deserves elected officials to act in their best interest. Never in the best interest of any private enterprise….
      Man that sounds so familiar….where have I read that recently? Oh yeah now I remember, it was in the Grand Jury investigation. The very one that Becker leaked to his employer’s. And no I’m not talking about the Sandwich Shop / Taco Bell, or Long Term Doggie Hotel that I think he was the manager at one time.
      Better Days are ahead for sure. It might get Darker before it get Lighter again, but I think we are now moving in the right direction.
      So my question is real, Who’s Next?
      For you rock music buffs… I’m not asking which of The Who’s albums was the best of all time. That is a whole different conversation, and one I’d rather be having right now.
      Burt Field

Leave a Reply