City & Chamber Fighting to Keep Convention Center & Other Valuable Land Due to RDA Dissolution


As I have reported to you in the past, the City of Santa Clara and Chamber have been working very hard to keep over 100 acres of Santa Clara real estate out of the hands of the State, County and other taxing agencies that make up our Oversight Board.  Unfortunately, the courts in Sacramento recently ruled that Governor Brown’s RDA Dissolution law is legal and all assets purchased with redevelopment funds must now be returned to the State and Oversight Board agencies.

Many cities in California spent their RDA funds on human resources, studies and other miscellaneous City projects.  Santa Clara invested their funds in purchasing land and building a convention center to provide future revenues for the City and to promote economic development.  In fact, several years ago, the City Council made a bold decision and asked the voters to approve purchasing the Great America property with RDA funds.  The voters approved this and not only saved the amusement park from closing, but also brought in an additional $5 million a year in lease revenue to the City’s general fund.  The Convention Center, Hyatt Regency, Tech Mart and Hilton Hotel were other examples of this sound RDA investment strategy.

The overall strategy paid off and brought over $13 million a year in lease revenue to the City’s general fund to pay for police, fire and infrastructure improvements.  It also led the way to major expansion and development of our North of Bayshore area.

Unfortunately, Governor Brown and the legislature passed a law that will now take these assets away from the City.  The Oversight Board is moving forward swiftly to move the land assets and Convention Center away from the City to be sold to the highest bidder.  These proceeds will not be coming to the City and will be dispersed to the Oversight Board member’s taxing organizations and State as required by law.    

I hope you agree with me and find this is simply outrageous.  Unfortunately, there is little we can do since the court has made a final ruling in favor of the Governor’s law.  We do hope that the Convention Center will remain under the control of the City, but it is still too early to know what will finally happen.

Imagine our Convention Center being run and owned by another company that has no skin in the game.  They could do whatever they wanted to meet their bottom line numbers reporting to agencies that don’t even represent the City.  We certainly hope this does not become the final outcome.

We are working very closely with the City Manager and Council in making every effort to be sure our voice is heard throughout this process.  If you’d like to have your voice heard, please reach out to Ken Yeager your County Supervisor.  He can be reached at 408-299-5040 or by email at

Steve Van Dorn

Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce & Convention-Visitors Bureau President and CEO


Santa Clara Chamber PAC Endorses Candidates

Santa Clara Chamber PAC-endorsed City Council candidates include Councilman Pat Kolstad (left), Mayor Jamie Matthews (center), and Dominic Caserta (right).

Santa Clara Chamber PAC-endorsed City Council candidates include Councilman Pat Kolstad (left), Mayor Jamie Matthews (center), and Dominic Caserta (right).

Behind the scenes, the Santa Clara Chamber PAC (SCCPAC) Committee of volunteers has been very busy over the last few weeks.  This Committee acts as a separate political action arm of the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce and Convention-Visitors Bureau.  The SCCPAC Committee  interviewed five of the eight candidates running for the three open positions on the Santa Clara City Council.  Unfortunately, three of the candidates (Deborah Bress, Mayoral candidate; Karen Hardy, Seat 2 candidate; and Kevin Park, Seat 5 candidate) did not participate in our process.  All five participating candidates were interviewed and recorded at Ding Ding TV studios in Santa Clara.  You can find their interviews here:

Santa Clara Unified School District Board Member candidates were also interviewed through the same process.  All candidates were invited to participate.  Unfortunately, five of the candidates (Dr. Ina Bendis, Steve Kelly, Ashish Mangla, Michael Helms and Noelani Sallings) did not participate in our interview process.  All three participating candidates were interviewed and recorded at Ding Ding TV studios in Santa Clara.  You can find their interviews online at

Since our founding in 2010, our mission has never changed-to seek out, evaluate qualifications of and endorse those candidates who are running for public office at the local, county and state level, who support the free enterprise system, believe in fiscally responsible government and whose views represent the interests of the business community.

Based on a thorough evaluation of each candidate interviewed, the Santa Clara Chamber PAC is recommending you support the following candidates for the November, 2014 election:

Santa Clara City Council

Santa Clara Unified School District Governing Board

To learn more about the SCCPAC, please check out our website at  Don’t forget to vote on November 4th! 

Non-Resident Withholding Compliance

The State Franchise Tax Board (FTB) wants to ensure that businesses are compliant in regards to withholding taxes when it comes to nonresidents.  Generally, if a business pays a nonresident independent contractor more than $1,500 in a calendar year, the business is responsible for withholding 7% of the payment and sending it to FTB. Nonresidents are required to file tax returns on the income they earn in California; this withholding is a prepayment of the tax that may be due on that income.

The FTB website has many tools and information on this topic to help you stay compliant. 

• Determine if withholding is required, you may conduct an agent self-test –

• Retrieve general information on the three stages of withholding

• Access current year forms and publications

• Review the withholding voluntary compliance program to assist self-agents in remitting past due, non-wage withholding

For further information, please visit the FTB website at

Visitors Bureau Promotes 49 Awesome Things To Do in Santa Clara!


In recognition of the San Francisco 49ers first season at Levi’s® Stadium, the Santa Clara Convention and Visitors Bureau has created a new campaign titled “49 Awesome Things to Do in Santa Clara.” The effort to get the word out about the city’s visitor attractions is timely as the city expects thousands of new visitors in the coming months and years.

The promotional campaign includes a “49 Awesome Things To Do in Santa Clara!” blog post at and lists colorful photos and web links to 49 of the city’s visitor attractions and events. The blog highlights everything from Levi’s Stadium tours to dining, cultural arts and entertainment, and family friendly attractions such as California’s Great America theme park.

“With the national spotlight upon Levi’s Stadium and Santa Clara, we want the world to know there are some great visitor experiences here,” says Steve Van Dorn, President  & CEO of the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce and Convention-Visitors Bureau. “I think a lot of people are going to be surprised with all there is to see and do,” Van Dorn added. The campaign has also created a “49 Things To Do in Santa Clara” logo which will be used on social media as well as in print and electronic ads.

Chamber Joins Silicon Valley Business Leaders on Visits to State Lawmakers

County Chamber Leaders Visit Sacramento

On May 20, 2014 Steve Van Dorn (President & CEO of the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce & Convention-Visitors Bureau) and several Chamber members joined other Silicon Valley business leaders on the Annual State Legislative Summit in Sacramento coordinated by the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce. The entire group met with 25 assembly and senate representatives. Steve’s team of five met with three of the five legislators they were assigned. “Overall, it was a great experience that I recommend our members consider attending next year,” said Van Dorn.

The message the group delivered was clear and consistent. They asked that our elected officials focus on a number of areas. Here is a sample of what was discussed during the visits:

CEQA Reform: CEQA continues to be a burden to economic development across California. Abuse of this well intentioned legislation has become legendary. These abuses are currently threatening jobs here in Silicon Valley and must be reframed so the law can do what it was intended.

Expanding Government/Taxation: Businesses and individuals already pay a myriad of taxes and fees, and yet there is an insatiable need by state and local government for more. We must be prudent with our spending, provide room for the private sector to thrive, and be sure the tax revenue we do pay is spent efficiently.

Unnecessary Regulation: California is continually ranked as one of the worst states for doing business due to a burdensome regulatory environment and high cost of doing business. Removing unnecessary regulations and barriers that prevent business from expanding will create jobs in Silicon Valley and throughout California.

Workforce Education: We need innovative education and technical training that supports our industries and provides our citizens with pathways to stable careers and also the ability to move ahead and become higher-earning workers. This starts with pre K-12 education and continues to the college level and beyond.

“We received strong support on our focus areas from a few of the elected officials we met with, but there is still much work to do. The Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce will continue to advocate for your business so that it can continue to grow and prosper,” said Van Dorn.

Please let Steve Van Dorn know what you think we should communicate to our elected officials to improve the business climate in Santa Clara and Silicon Valley. He can be reached by email at or at 408-380-1231.

New Idea for a Product/Service? Apply to Santa Clara University’s CAPE Program by May 31


Santa Clara University launched CAPE (California Program for Entrepreneurship) in 2010 as an initiative of the Leavey School of Business. The goal of the program is to get businesses of all types up and running in California.  In its first four years, CAPE has graduated 95 entrepreneurs representing 83 ventures. Of those, more than 85% are still active and growing businesses or have been sold.

Their goal is to give a California resident, who has a good idea and plan for a product or service, the tools to develop and launch a business. CAPE will be accepting applications from March 3 through May 31.

There are many entrepreneurship programs in Silicon Valley. CAPE is unique.

  • Unlike most programs, CAPE is free. There is no cost to participate in the program.
  • CAPE does not take an equity interest in the businesses it helps to launch.
  • Participants do not need to be affiliated with Santa Clara University.
  • There are no restrictions on what kind of businesses will be considered, as long as the business is based in California and deemed by evaluators to be viable.
  • The 6-month program is held mostly on weekends.

CAPE alumni have launched “low tech” business ranging from gourmet hot dogs to elder care as well as more technology-driven enterprises like engineering consulting, mobile apps for retailers and online gaming.

The participants have access to more than 150 mentors and experts from the Leavey School of Business and the business world. Over six months, they work together to refine their business plans. The program culminates with a business plan competition where cash prizes are awarded.

CAPE’s 2014 program runs from June through October. The application is available at this link Applications are due May 31, 2014.