Getting to Know the Santa Clara City Council Candidates
The Santa Clara Weekly is running a series of profiles on political candidates in the November election -- this article focuses on city council Seat 7 candidate Kevin Park
By David Alexander

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Getting to Know the Santa Clara City Council Candidates

Kevin Park wants to represent you on the Santa Clara City Council.

Park serves on the Santa Clara Citizens’ Advisory Committee. He has served on Santa Clara’s Sister Cities Association board and holds a Master’s Degree from Stanford University. He teaches programming and art.

The Council is not listening to residents’ grievances, says Park. Giving citizens two minutes to express their concern at meetings, without any dialogue, does nothing address people’s concerns, he said.

“It is like you talking to a doctor and telling them ‘it hurts right here,’ and the doctor is like ‘no, it doesn’t hurt right there,’” he said. “Two monologues in a row is not the same thing as having a discussion.”

Park said Teresa O’Neill, the Seat Seven incumbent against whom he is running, has not followed through on the promises she made to the city when first elected, saying that “the failings are across the board” and that her campaign “doesn’t have any teeth.”

While housing is an issue, he said “it is not the only issue.” The city needs to focus more on improving and maintaining its infrastructure because it is “more than housing units and a stadium,” adding that “housing is not the answer to everything.”

Infrastructure such as sewers, roads and water mains are essential to every city, he said. Allowing those aspects of the city to fall into disrepair ensures that the city can’t thrive.

“Put the mask over your own face before you try to help others. Otherwise, you are a mess,” he said.

It’s not that Park is against development; he said the problem is simply that the Council keeps changing the ship’s course, and it is not that the city doesn’t need more housing. It does. He said it is that the Council is not planning that housing well.

“Projects that used to have a variance go to planned development or high-density residence,” he said. “It is like the General Plan doesn’t even exist.”

Part of the problem is that developers come into the city, impact the cost of housing by driving the median income up and do nothing offset that impact. If elected, he said he is “in favor of the discussion” with such companies to see how they can help lower housing costs.

Further, he said that despite claiming that the city needs more “walkable communities,” the Council is systematically removing retail and other amenities such as the golf course and BMX track used to justify developments that make communities more interconnected.

“When you add water to soup, you get watered-down soup, which is why when you want to make the soup bigger, you add, not just water, you add the other constituents of the soup. You add more potatoes. You add more meat,” he said.

Deviating from the General Plan, he said, is something that is having waves throughout the city, impacting traffic and making neighborhoods less connected ensures that traffic increases, he said.

If Santa Clara wants less traffic, Park said it has to make sure its residents can do various things in one trip – not cling to the idea they will take public transportation. Santa Clara is a family city, and people don’t take the bus or train to take their kids to soccer practice or buy groceries, he said.

Ultimately, Park said the Council needs to be more upfront with its citizens, being clear about what kind of city it wants to be because many people choose to live in Santa Clara in part because of the vision set out for it.

“We are supposed to be a mission city. We are supposed to be a charter city. I am saying we are getting away from our identity,” Park said. “We are telling them one thing and doing another. We show them a plan, and we don’t follow the plan.”