Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor gave a brief update on the State of the City. She is pleased with the progress that is happening in the downtown area of Santa Clara (near Franklin Square and the University). She recognized SiliconSage Builders for their development in this area, while also recognizing Related California for their proposed City Place project next to the Convention Center and across from Levi’s Stadium.
Mayor Gillmor said that the City has to “take advantage of the economic opportunity that we have – progress is taking place in our City and it’s still going to happen.” Taking advantage of these economic opportunities will help the City recover from the loss of the more than $13 million in leases that the City lost with the dissolution of the RDA. It is her hope that the ground lease from the City Place project will help to replace some of this income.
During her discussion with Roy Truitt, Interim President & CEO for the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce & Convention-Visitors Bureau, Mayor Gillmor said that the City has a healthy reserve fund and she wants to continue to maintain it. “It’s great now, but we need to work hard to make sure it is stable for the future.” In response to a question about future developer fees charged by the City, the Mayor explained that the fees are a way to try to generate more funds for park areas to recreate for both residents and businesses in Santa Clara. With more residential housing, she wants to make sure there are recreation opportunities available. The fees are a way to ensure this.
As for the future City Manager position, she stated the City “needs someone that is forward thinking, creative, economic development-minded, but also community minded.” She commented that much has been accomplished under Julio Fuentes, but there is still much to be done. The job will be challenging as the new manager will need to be someone who can work with not only some of the largest companies in the world that are trying to locate here and do business here, but the residents that have been here for years and the newer residents.
In closing, she talked about the jobs/housing imbalance and the loss of the RDA funds to create affordable housing. “It’s the moderate income housing that most of us fall into….it’s the middle class that’s out there trying to make a living” and for these residents it’s hard to live here. “The positive side of the imbalance is that we’ve had so much business here in the past, that we’ve generated a lot of tax income. We could then have wonderful streets, parks, all those types of amenities that our residents have enjoyed.” She then went on to say that the biggest challenge is the affordable housing, which is needed – the dissolution of RDA took away this vehicle. She would like to see more diversity of housing, to include for-sale housing as well as rentals and senior housing.