The controversial Civic Center drive development is recommended for approval

After a lengthy public comment, the planning committee recommended that the city council approve a planned affordable housing complex at 1601 Civic Center Drive with several additional terms.

More than 100 people wrote letters and called a planning committee meeting on August 3 to express their opinion on the project proposed by Charities Housing.

Civic Center Drive Development is slated to construct 108 affordable housing units on a 1.4-acre site at the intersection of Lincoln Street and Civic Center Drive. The site is currently home to a vacant two-storey office building.

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Residents wrote letters to the Planning Commission to express their concerns about the potential increase in crime, the high-density nature of the project, the shading caused by the building and the increase in parking on already congested streets.

There is already a congestion in the street parking lots along the Civic [Center] Drive in and there was a leak into the guest parking lot at Hillebrant Pl. neighborhood (we had cars pulled over to park guest cars for extended periods of time) and as such, I was just imagining the parking situation getting worse,” James wrote.

“According to reviews of other CH sites in the Bay Area, there are many car break-ins. This poses a significant risk to the neighborhood. Is CH prone to attracting crimes? Does CH conduct any security or background checks for future residents?” Jan wrote.

Others were unhappy with Charities Housing, calling the developer a “liar” and untrustworthy. One person said Charities Housing did nothing after an on-site RV emptied its hatches in their backyard. There were also accusations of pest and homeless camps on the property.

In the end, the planning commissioners agreed to recommend the plan.

“Low income does not mean a crime,” Commissioner Lance Salem said. “I must go back to the original concept. This is housing to alleviate the need for low-priced housing for those who live and work in this city. They are teachers, shop workers, people at loading docks, mail carriers…these are people who deserve to have their own home to live on. In it. They’re not trans. They’re people who live and want to work in Santa Clara.”

The commissioners unanimously recommended city council approval of the Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) and Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program. They also unanimously recommended that the city council agree to amend the master plan from a commercial community to high-density residential.

Commissioner Nancy Biagini added several amendments to Staff Recommendation #3, approving the redistricting from the Office of the General (OG) to Planned Development (PD), including:

  1. That housing charities include a Transit Pass (VTA) for each tenant they request;
  2. That housing charities continue to communicate with residents and communities of interest under the supervision of the Director of Community Development;
  3. that Charities Housing designate a shared riding area on the site to the satisfaction of the Director of Community Development;
  4. Charities Housing provides a place to display public art with a view to Native Americans “who were here long before us”;
  5. That Charities Housing give serious consideration to the exploration of shared car parks with commercial and urban buildings in the area to mitigate excessive parking in the area;
  6. Charities Housing and its contractors comply with emissions, noise, street cleaning, and dust control or are subject to law enforcement in accordance with the City of Santa Clara guidelines;
  7. Charities Housing is implementing a registered and monitored security camera system containing approximately 50 cameras that are monitored by persons on site to the satisfaction of the Director of Community Development and at the discretion of the Director, the security system may need to be monitored by security personnel.

The motion passed 4-1 with Commissioner Ron Patrick voting no.

The city council will take up the proposal to develop 1601 Civic Center Drive at its meeting on September 27.

Other work of the Planning Committee

This was the first meeting of the planning committee for Patrick, who was chosen by the city council to replace Yuki Ikezi on the committee.

Committee Chair Priya Shirokoro and Commissioner Yashraj Bhatnagar were also absent.

The Planning Committee unanimously approved the approval assessment, which included:

  • Planning Committee meeting minutes June 15, 2022 (Patrick abstained);
  • Permit to allow the sale and consumption of beer and wine at Tacomania Restaurant at 2855 Stevens Creek Blvd. ;
  • Permit to allow the sale and consumption of alcohol at the Tostada Restaurant at 3149 Mission College Blvd. ;
  • Permission to allow the sale and consumption of beer and wine at Mountain Mike’s Pizza at 2510 Augustine Dr. ;
  • Contrast to maintain parking garage with 589-square-foot second-floor plus single-family home at 2663 Sonoma Place;
  • Extension of time on variance for building height and architectural review approvals for an office project at 3625 Peterson Way.

The next meeting of the Planning Committee is Wednesday, August 24 at 6 pm

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