‘Behemoth,’ ‘Shocking,’ ‘Whopper’ of a Development Set to Replace Yahoo Office Project

By David Alexander

A Chinese developer’s plans to erect a 50-story office tower and another 35-story housing tower will move forward after the Santa Clara City Council decided the additions to the development do not warrant halting the project.

Kylli Inc., a subsidiary of juggernaut Genzon Property Group, wants to turn the 46-acre site formerly owned by Yahoo at 3005 Democracy Way into an “urban village.” The mixed-use development would add more than 6,000 apartments and increase the square footage of the development from 3 million square feet to 10.5 million square feet.

“Sounds like the developer wants to build a mini Hong Kong is Santa Clara,” said Suds Jain, who is a member of the Santa Clara Planning Commission.

While the proposed development is bigger than City Place project, it takes place on a footprint roughly a quarter the size, Jain said.

In order to proceed with the development as proposed, however, the company needs a general plan amendment to increase the allocated square footage and allow for more than commercial use as was specified in 2009 when Yahoo sought to develop the land. The Council considered allowing the project to proceed, given the need for such an amendment, at its first meeting of the year Tuesday night.

As per the Council’s new gatekeeper policy, instituted last year, projects already underway that would require a general plan amendment must come before Council for early consideration. The purpose being to quash any developments not in keeping with the general plan before they progress further.

Andrew Crabtree, Director of Community Development, said the project would require a new development agreement.

Many Council Members used colorful language to describe the development. Council Member Patricia Mahan called it a “behemoth,” adding that when she heard how many floors the building would have, she “blanched a little.” Council Member Pat Kolstad said it was a “whopper” while newly appointed Vice Mayor Kathy Watanabe called it “overwhelming,” and Council Member Debi Davis called the buildings’ height “shocking.”

Still, every Council Member voted to uphold Crabtree’s recommendation to continue processing the application.

“We have to start looking at things in a different way and from all the angles,” Council Member Teresa O’Neill said.

Jain’s comments were among the only negative comments regarding the project. Many spoke in favor of it, lauding its density as a way to ameliorate traffic.

Paul Bickmore, a Santa Clara resident, said it is “unrealistic to plan around the car.”

While the project is still in the preliminary phase, Crabtree said his department is “going to make sure this is well-understood” by the public.

 

Dog Daycare Dispute

The Council also upheld a Planning Commission decision to allow improvements to a dog daycare located in a heavy industrial district. Evan Walsh, owner of Sweet Doggies, wants to reconfigure the parking lot and add more outdoor play space at the daycare located at 1800 De La Cruz Blvd. in Santa Clara.

However, the daycare’s neighbor, Extra Space Storage has an on-site caretaker, and an attorney for the company, Bruce Tichinin, argued that the noise from the dogs would disturb that caretaker.

“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows,” he said. “Everybody knows barking dogs will wake a sleeping person.”

Although the outdoor additions are within the zoning code, Tichinin argued that City employees have done nothing to “encourage”—as the zoning code specifies should be the case—to keep business contained indoors.

Crabtree said a noise study showed the dogs’ barking did not create noise above the 70 decibel threshold allowed by City code for the area. Walsh agreed to keep the dogs indoors from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and allow for pickup after 7 p.m. on a limited as-needed basis.

The Council voted unanimously to uphold the Planning Commission’s decision to allow the renovations to proceed.

 

Contracts

The Council also approved six contracts for services with the City, all of which appeared on the consent calendar and were approved with one motion.

Perhaps the most interesting of these agreements was SummerHill’s request that the City establish a “community facilities district” for the Lawrence Station project. The designation is a parcel tax that circumvents Prop 13, which limits property taxes based on the assessed value of real estate. However, a “community facilities district” does not levy taxes based on the assessed value of the property.

The designation allows SummerHill to advance the City money to establish the “community facilities district” by hiring consultants—in this case $41,500 to hire Jones Hall as legal counsel and Goodwin Consulting Group as special tax counsel, both of whom worked for the City when it designated Levi’s Stadium’s “community facilities district.”

Also of note was the contract with CCMH Santa Clara to make $90,000 worth of Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades to the Marriott located at 2700 Mission College Blvd.

Other contracts included $74,000 for therapy, school outreach and grief counseling at the Bill Wilson Center, $67,000 to fund Project Sentinel’s Tenant Landlord Rent Mediation program, a three-year $330,000 contract with Advance Chemical Transport Inc. to haul hazardous waste and finally another three-year contract for $125,000 with Reliability Optimization Inc. for maintenance on the electrical generation department.

Mayor Lisa Gillmor and City Manager Deanna Santana left the meeting after the special orders of business items on the agenda. Before leaving, Santana introduced the new Public Works Director: Craig Mobeck.

The next City Council meeting will be held 7 p.m. Jan. 30 in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1500 Warburton Ave. in Santa Clara.

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