Welcome to our third edition of “Council Corner”. This time, we’re going to take a look at major council action on housing and transportation issues from February.
The months started off with the annual council “retreat”, where council members get together in a public session to discuss the city’s priorities for the year. The council discussed the priorities for the year and eventually embraced, on a 6-0 vote (DuBois absent), the following priorities:
- Climate/Sustainability and Climate Action Plan
- Grade Separations
- Transportation and Traffic
- Fiscal Sustainability.
Items from 2018, such as the Housing Work Plan, will be continued into 2019, but the primary focus of staff energy will be on the above items.
In a series of votes on 2/11, the council chose not to execute the next phase of the contract on the Downtown Garage project, instead asking staff to return with plans to discuss parking needs downtown. The motion ended up passing unanimously, but only after Council Member DuBois offered a motion, which failed due to lack of a second, to move forward with the next design phase of the contract. An additional DuBois motion to accelerate the parking analysis also failed on a 3-4 vote (DuBois, Kou, Tanaka yes).
Overall, this action puts the breaks on the Downtown Garage project and likely means it will not be pursued in the near future. Instead, the city will look at other ways to manage parking demand in the downtown area.
The other sessions of the month focused primarily on issues of the Stanford GUP and commercial uses. The council passed a resolution directing the staff to draft a letter to Santa Clara county regarding the city’s concerns with the Stanford GUP process. Further, the city moved to lift the “downtown cap”, which is a limit on total commercial development downtown. Other “office caps” are still in effect city wide. Those were not affected by this action. Finally, the city moved to authorize rooftop gardens in the downtown area on some projects where they would be prohibited by today’s zoning.