SANTA CLARA – A proposal for a condo development in the South Hills area of Santa Clara was narrowly defeated by the City Council Wednesday in front of an overflowing crowd.
Split Rock Development Group requested a zone change that would have allowed seven three-story 16-plex condo units to be built on 9.89 acres at the south end of Gates Lane and south of Clary Hills Drive. The proposal included 112 condo units available for short-term rentals.
The City Council voted against the zone change in a 3-2 decision, although the planning commission recommended approval.
Councilwoman Mary Jo Hafen declined to vote due to a conflict of interest, and Mayor Rick Rosenberg was forced to cast the deciding vote.
Opposing City Council members and residents who spoke at the public hearing expressed concern that the development did not fit in with surrounding single-family zoning and would lower the property values of existing homeowners.
“It just doesn’t feel good there,” Councilman Herb Basso said, even though he said he thought it’s a great project and a great idea.
“I just don’t think this is the place for it.”
Residents brought up transportation issues, despite a traffic study that showed no significant impact from the expected increase in traffic.
Several residents pointed out that there is no left-turn lane on Santa Clara Boulevard to allow access to Gates Lane and that increased use could cause traffic to back up behind those waiting to make the turn, especially during busy weekends. Santa Clara Boulevard is a major route to Ivins and Gunlock, areas that are both expected to grow in the future.
Resident James Spendlove spoke at the hearing and brought a petition against the proposal signed by 450 residents.
“People that built there expected it to stay single-family,” Spendlove said.
Phillip Gubler said he fears the condo project would decrease property values and force him to change development plans for the adjacent property that he owns.
“Can you imagine looking out your backyard and seeing condos?” he asked.
Other residents pointed out that allowing such high-density zoning to pass would allow other similar projects in the South Hills area.
Although she declined to vote on the zone change, Hafen said the South Hills area is changing and that it’s hard to know how to handle it.
Recreational use of the area has already increased substantially, and more use is expected in the future.
Tourism is increasing, Hafen said, and so is traffic in the South Hills. More people are using the mountain biking trails. Additionally, an outdoor sports park is planned for the area, and major bike races are being held.
City officials and residents need to think about how to handle the increasing use, Hafen said.
“There’s more traffic now than people are happy with,” she said, adding that even if the condo project is denied, people are still going to go to the South Hills.
In other business, the council approved a final $4.3 million budget for fiscal year 2017 after a public hearing at which no one spoke.
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