Developers Spend a Great Deal of Time at City Hall

By Melissa McKenzie
How City Council Spends Their Time

Last week, the WEEKLY dissected Council Member calendars, detailing which people and organizations rack up the most time with those governing Santa Clara. This week, the WEEKLY is taking the same public calendar data—from November 2016, when current Council took office, until June 2017—and breaking it down by project to explain how often developers and lobbyists are meeting with Council regarding specific projects.

City Place—The Related Companies
The Related Companies, or its lobbyist/consultant Jude Barry, has met with Council 16 times regarding the currently stalled City Place project, which has been planned since 2012. Eight of the developer’s meetings have been with Mayor Lisa Gillmor, four of which were one-on-one meetings with Gillmor and Related executive Steve Eimer. The remaining four were with Barry; Eimer and Related President and Chief Executive Officer Ken Himmel; Eimer and Barry; and Eimer, Related Chairman and Founder Steve Ross, Assistant City Manager Ruth Shikada, and City Attorney Brian Doyle.

Of the remaining eight meetings, one was with Gillmor, Eimer, Himmel and Ross prior to a meeting the four had with Assistant City Manager Ruth Shikada, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, San Jose Assistant City Manager David Skyes and San Jose Director of Land Use and Economic Development Ru Weerakoon. One meeting was attended by Gillmor, Barry and Council Member Teresa O’Neill. Four of the remaining five meetings were with O’Neill (three with Barry and one with Eimer) and the final meeting was between Eimer and Council Member Patricia Mahan.

City Place is a 240-acre mixed-used development project, separated into five parcels that will be developed in phases. The project will include up to 1,680 residential units, 700 hotel rooms and 5.7 million square feet of office space in addition to 1.1 million square feet of retail, 250,000 square feet of food and beverage and 190,000 square feet of entertainment space.

Lawrence Station, Tasman East and El Camino Real—SummerHill Homes
SummerHill Homes popped up frequently on multiple Council Members’ calendars, positioning itself as one of the top organizations meeting with every member of Council. Currently, SummerHill is discussing three projects: Lawrence Station, Tasman East and El Camino Real between Scott and Los Padres boulevards.

The Lawrence and Tasman projects were the subjects of eight meetings. Five of its 21 meetings with officials were about Lawrence Station—a 988-unit residential and six-unit live/work development with 40,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space—and three concerned the Tasman East Focus Area plan—a high-density housing and retail project.

Of the 13 meetings known to be about SummerHill’s El Camino Real and Scott Boulevard project, the breakdown with each Council Member is as follows: Gillmor (2), Vice Mayor Dominic Caserta (1), Debi Davis (2), Pat Kolstad (2), Mahan (2), O’Neill (2) and Kathy Watanabe (2). The “development” meetings were with Gillmor, Caserta, Mahan and O’Neil, with each Council Member in one meeting. Summerhill also  had a meeting about project “updates” with O’Neill.

Two meetings about SummerHill’s El Camino Real and Scott Boulevard project are notable because to The WEEKLY’s knowledge, their participants have no known connection SummerHill or the project. Related consultant Barry had a meeting about “transportation” with O’Neill on Apr. 28.  The second meeting was on March 29 between Cynthia Owens, President of the Silicon Valley Aquatics Initiative, and Council Member Kolstad regarding the SummerHill proposal at McCormick Drive and El Camino Real—the actual location of the El Camino Real and Scott Boulevard project.

SummerHill also had four meetings regarding “development” that could be related to any of the projects, and one regarding updates, rounding out the developer’s total meetings with Council to 26. SummerHill is currently attempting to push a 151-unit apartment complex with 11,000 square feet of retail space through Council, but has been denied approval twice.

Most of SummerHill’s meetings involved Managing Director Joe Head, Executive Vice President/Managing Director Katia Kamangar, Vice President of Development Elaine Breeze and lobbyist/consultant Cynthia James. James has never met with Council without SummerHill executives present.

Freedom Circle—Greystar Real Estate Partners
Greystar Real Estate Partners is in talks with the City to turn 13 acres of office buildings at 3925 Freedom Circle into a mixed-use development. Since April, Greystar executive Dan Diebel, Greystar Managing Director of Development Randy Ackerman, PIMCO Vice President and Commercial Real Estate Portfolio Manager Anthony Clarke, PIMPCO Vice President Portfolio Manager Jason Longo and lobbyist/consultant Kathy Thibodeaux have met with Council in various groups nine times.

Thibodeaux has had one-on-one meetings with Caserta and Kolstad while Diebel and Thibodeaux have had meetings with O’Neill (2), Mahan, Caserta and Kolstad with Watanabe. Thibodeaux, Diebel, Ackerman and Longo have had meetings with Kolstad and Mahan separately regarding the project.

Outside of the nine meetings, on April 18 Thibodeaux met to discuss the Freedom Bridge lease with O’Neill, City Manager Rajeev Batra, Santa Clara Traffic Engineer Dennis Ng, Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors Chair Barbara Keegan, Santa Clara Valley Water District Engineering Manager Sue Tippets, Santa Clara Valley Water District Community Projects Review Manager Unit-294 Usha Chatwani, Santa Clara Valley Water District Watersheds Stewardship and Planning Division-241 Deputy Operating Officer Vincent Gin and Intel Public Affairs Manager Jessica Marconi.

Carlene Matchniff, VP Entitlements and Public Affairs for Irvine Northern California, and Irvine lobbyist and consultant Jim Cunneen met with Watanabe on June 2 and Mahan later that day. Cunneen also met with Caserta on June 19 regarding the project. Irvine owns the adjacent property at 2900-3990 Freedom Circle.

Moonlite Lanes—Prometheus
Prometheus purchased the former Moonlite Lanes property at 2780 El Camino Real late last year and has been attempting to build a 158-unit apartment complex on the land, but has fallen flat in garnering support from City Council, withdrawing its most recent proposal back in February.

Prometheus President Marilyn Ponte and Executive Vice President Jon Moss and consistently met with Council between November and early February, meeting with all seven Council Members—twice with Mahan. O’Neill’s meeting was also attended by Watanabe. Landscape Architect John Dalrymple sat in on the Feb. 10 meeting with Mahan, Prometheus’ final meeting prior to pulling its proposal.

Since February, Moss and Ponte have met with Gillmor once and Ponte had a meeting with Watanabe.

Prometheus has had four meetings labeled “development” with Council Members between Dec. 16, 2016 and Feb. 17, 2017, two with Gillmor and one each with Caserta and O’Neill.

Great America
California’s Great America is working with Council to re-develop parts of its 100-acre amusement park and create an entertainment district leading to Great America’s front gates. Council has been mostly supportive in the partnership with the Cedar Fair-operated attraction.

All but one of Great America’s nine meetings with Council happened between Dec. 20, 2016 and Jan. 23, 2017. Great America’s Vice President and General Manager Raul Rehnborg, Director of Maintenance Greg Sanders and land use consultant Erik Schoennauer along with lobbyist and consultant Cynthia James (who works for both SummerHill and Great America) had seven meetings with Council, notching time with all seven Council Members. Rehnborg, James and Great America’s Public Relations Manager Roger Ross had one meeting with Gillmor in December.

Ross met with Davis, Mahan and Watanabe for an update on the project on Apr. 24.

Santa Clara CalTrain Parking Lot—Republic Metropolitan
Republic Metropolitan is hoping to develop, according to its lobbyist and former Santa Clara Council Member Kevin Moore’s lobbyist report, “a mixed-use project on the property/ies near Santa Clara Transit Center. We will work with City Officials in hopes of bringing a new mixed-use project to Santa Clara.”

As of now, Moore’s report is the only information available on the project, which appears to be supported by Norman Mineta, former Secretary of Transportation and President and CEO of Mineta and Associates, who has sat in on two meetings with Gillmor and Moore, one with Republic Metropolitan executive Scott Mendelsohn and one with Mendelsohn and Republic Metropolitan executive Bob Mendelsohn. Mineta also had a call with Gillmor regarding the project on May 22. In fact, of Republic Metropolitan’s six meetings with Council, five have been with Gillmor, one of which Davis attended. The sixth meeting was between O’Neill, Bob Mendelsohn and President of Mezzetti Law Firm Robert Mezzetti.

Republic Metropolitan’s first meeting with Gillmor was on Nov. 29, 2016 and included both Mendolsohns, Moore, Republic Metropolitan’s President and Chief Executive Officer Steven Grigg, Senior Vice President of Land Development Stacy Hornstein and consultant John DeRiggi. Davis also attended the meeting.

The developer’s most recent meeting on May 31 was with Gillmor, Bob Mendelsohn and Mezzetti.

BAREC Project—The Core Companies
The Core Companies was selected to develop the former Bay Area Research and Extension Center (BAREC) site at 90 North Winchester Blvd. in Sept. 2015 with a mixed income, multi-generational housing development designed around a 1.5-acre urban farm on six acres of land. San Jose resident, activist and owner of a business on the border of Santa Clara and San Jose, Kirk Vartan lobbied heavily for the project.

Since November 2016, Core has had five meetings with Council regarding the BAREC site, the first being between Core’s Real Estate Development Vice President Paul Ring and Watanabe.

Gillmor has had three meetings with Ring and other Core executives—one with Ring and Core President and CEO David Neale and two with Ring, Core Senior Development Manager Vince Cantore and Executive Vice President Chris Neale.

Gillmor, O’Neill, Ring, Cantor and Chris Neal also met with Batra and Santa Clara’s Community Development Director Andrew Crabtree in February regarding the BAREC site and Santa Clara’s Project for Open Spaces.

Vartan attended three meetings with City Council Members regarding the BAREC site between Dec. 9 and 17, 2016, none of which were attended by Core executives. He attended one meeting with Gillmor and O’Neill, one with Gillmor and Andrei MacApinlac, who appeared on behalf of Senator Bob Wieckowski. The fouth meeting with Gillmor and O’Neill was regarding BAREC, stadium issues and housing. Santa Clara resident Hosam Haggag and San Jose resident Gabe Foo also attended.

Council Member calendars are viewable at http://santaclaraca.gov/government/about-santa-clara/public-calendars-of-certain-city-officials.