By Robert Haugh
Last night, the Santa Clara City Council considered a major housing development project on Monroe Street in District Five.
But Councilmember Suds Jain who represents the area was on vacation and skipped the meeting.
Jain was aware that last night’s meeting was the first one scheduled after the Council’s summer break.
He was also aware that the housing development project was on the agenda.
Councilmember Kathy Watanabe, who was attending the meeting via Zoom from New York, moved that the item be held for one week so Jain could participate and represent his district.
But Watanabe could not get a second to her motion.
Mayor Lisa Gillmor had to abstain from the item and remove herself from the discussion since her office is located within 1,000 feet of the project.
Councilmember Kevin Park asked if Salvatore Caruso, the project’s applicant, wanted the item held for a week.
“I had spoken to Councilmember Jain before he left on his trip and asked if he would be attending,” said Caruso. “And he said ‘no.’”
“I’m assuming if his desire was to attend, in today’s world, he could attend via Zoom.
“Even though she has a family emergency, Councilmember Watanabe is attending from another part of the country,” said Caruso.
The project is located at 950 Monroe Street, between Franklin and Homestead. It’s a six-story mixed-use development with 50 units (20 percent would be affordable), four townhomes, and three single-family residences. It has on-site parking and amenities, landscaping, and off-site improvements, according to the City staff report.
The City staff recommends project approval. So did the Planning Commission by a 6-1 vote.
Many downtown residents, including members of Reclaiming Our Downtown, opposed the development.
After hours of public testimony that pushed the meeting past midnight, the Council could not make a decision. They asked the developer to work with the community and bring the project back at a later date.
The vote was 4-1 with Councilmembers Raj Chahal, Karen Hardy, Park, and Watanabe in favor. Indicted Councilmember Anthony Becker voted no.
Unless Jain skips the meeting, he’ll have to participate since he has no conflict of interest according to City staff.
Editor’s Note: Councilmember Jain will be offered a chance to communicate why he missed the vote and his position on this project if he had voted.