Petition Demands Height Cap on Proposed Santa Clara High-Rise

Santa Clara will hold a public hearing on today about one of the largest proposed development in the city’s history.

But some local residents are concerned about the project’s impact on traffic. Over 200 people have signed a petition started last month by analytics consultant Santa Clara resident Jason Feinsmith to demand that city officials to impose a 170-foot height limit on the proposed skyscraper.

Property owner Kylli—a subsidiary of Chinese pharmaceuticals and real estate company Genzo—is proposing for Mission Point, a development planned near Levi’s Stadium at 3005 Democracy Way, to comprise 23 buildings and reach up to 370 feet high. That’s over twice as tall as the tallest structure in Santa Clara, the Hyatt Hotel.

Kylli also aims to build 6,000 residential units, 3.65 million square feet of office space, 400,000 square feet of retail, a new hotel and a school.

“More housing—that’s good,” Feinsmith tells San Jose Inside. “But this is a very extreme proposal. It will increase the number of residents in Santa Clara north of Highway 101. Our goal is not to stop the project. Our proposal is to limit it to 170 feet. We’re still talking about 15 stories.”

Source: City of Santa Clara

Feinsmith says traffic will only worsen with the city already replacing the golf course by Levi’s Stadium with an $8 billion mixed-use development. That’s why he’s urging city officials to limit the project’s building heights. “It’ll still be a burden,” he says. “But it’ll be bearable, as we need housing in the Bay Area.”

Earlier this fall, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) raised concerns about the proposed building heights, saying the high-rise would interfere with radio frequency.

In response to the FAA’s concerns, Kylli Vice President Randi Gerson wrote in a letter to the city of Santa Clara’s community development director, Andrew Crabtree.

“Based on both the initial FAA findings and community feedback, it has been determined that the heights as shown in the application on file must be further reduced,” Gerson wrote. “Kylli is working with an aviation consulting firm that will assist us with navigating the FAA process.”

Kylli has already reduced its building heights from its original proposal in 2018, when it planned to build a 600-foot tower along with an array of other structures  that would reach around 400 feet.

“That was ridiculous,” Feismith says. “They’re coming to build a little Shanghai in our neighborhood. An inherent concern is conflict of interest—this is a company from China, they have no concern for the burdens of the local community.”

The public hearing takes place at 6pm tonight at Santa Clara City Hall, 1500 Warburton Ave. Click here for the agenda. (This article has been updated.)

Nicholas Chan is a journalist who covers politics, culture and current events in Silicon Valley. Follow him on Twitter at @nicholaschanhk.

21 Comments

  1. So people in Hong Kong are being brutalized and Santa Clara officials are building high rises for China?

  2. “Our goal is not to stop the project. Our proposal is to limit it to 170 feet. We’re still talking about 34 stories.”

    Unfortunately, this statement is not being honest. Yes, you are talking about stopping the project. No, it is not 34 stories. Just how are 34 stories going to fit in 170 feet? Unless it is only as a children’s playhouse with 4′ ceilings.

    Why can’t we have a large regional discussion about how a development like this could *help* the north side of Santa Clara? And it is always frustrating to hear people talk about “their city” as if it is an island. Santa Clara is in the main traffic corridor of Silicon Valley….I would even suggest the heart of it. I hear so often that density is fine in the “right place” (i.e., not near me). Well, this area is virtually untouched. It is a tilt-up office grave yard. It is a five minute walk from a $1.3B stadium and across the street will be the largest private development in west coast history (Related Santa Clara) weighing in at $8B.

    So are we really having a conversation about “the burdens of the local community” or more of a “I don’t want to see my City change that way.” I don’t hear anyone talking about what the area *needs* to be successful. Sure, we talk about housing, but how are we addressing that concern?

    Sorry to sound critical of this author (interviewee). I always want to find ways to collaborate and be part of the solution. I think we all need to be part of the solution….and that requires an honest assessment and acknowledgement of the current conditions and needs of the area. Building like we did in the 70s isn’t going to solve our problems. We need dense, walk-able, and vibrant places for people, with placemaking and ground floor activities. Those designs require people (not cars…people). We need many structural changes to our area, and we need to join forces to make these happen, not draw lines in the sand with an arbitrary height requirement (where did 170 feet come from anyway???).

    -Kirk

    • No, Vartan lives IN San Jose but always has his nose in Santa Clarans’ quality of life. He is also a puppet to the current mayor … But NOT a voter nor Santa Clara taxpayer. He does own an itsy-bitsy pizza joint in Santa Clara that HE thinks is important … Yawnnnnn.

        • How boring. Two non Santa Clarans debating what is the best for Santa Clara. Could the people being gassed in Hong Kong get to participate on the merits of China owning more of the USA?

      • There was that thing when Vartan with two councilmembers wrote that a cancer victim was playing the victim card, there was that curious Facebook picture but that is a minor thing. High rises may be good, I am sure he supports high rises on Winchester.

        • Hi Trini,

          Not sure we have met or not. Happy to be part of a larger discussion, with Santa Clarans and others. I would like to have a discussion about how a project like this not only impacts Santa Clara, but also the larger region. It’s like looking at Apple Park and saying that only Cupertino residents should weigh in on it. What about the Santa Clarans on the border or the San Jose residents?

          We all tend to look at our cities as isolated islands that are not dependent or impacted by the neighboring cities or the are traffic patterns. Working together on the area’s challenges is a way to change the broken ways our cities currently work together. If you think of Santa Clara County as a large city, with the current cities and boroughs (like NYC has five boroughs), the area can scale. What if the Library systems were one entity? What about Parks/Public Work? Schools? Police/fire? You see where I am headed. I know that is not possible in today’s world (too bad), but by working together in stead of in isolation, we can better shape the outcomes we need to grow.

          I would also ask anyone reading this to look at the jobs creation compared to housing creation, and that is one of the major reasons we are where we are…everything is overpriced and anyone earning less than $150K is struggling and can’t buy anything. The people that own are in good shape, with many $100Ks in equity in their homes. That’s great, but it is at the expense of our region right now. We can change that by allowing larger and more dense projects to get built. And not just housing….that’s awful and what has been happening. I’m referring to great places that are world class and open to the public. You can have commercial retail and offices there, and residential above it. But it will look and act differently than what we have today, and don’t we want things to change from the congested and broken transit systems and commuting schedules we have today?

          Again, would love to have a more in depth discussion with you and anyone else that thinks we don’t need a change (as well as ones that believe we need to change). We need to discuss this freely and openly, not call people names or insult them.

          -Kirk

  3. Really dudes this is not like carbon neutral, what we need here is like green open space for birds and rug rats and other living things. Maybe a pond with fish and weed and growing things for the people.
    Your plan is like only for the money!

  4. What is the population saturation number here?
    We lack natural resources for those who are already here and, of course, congestion is at gridlock.

  5. Interesting

    The person who wrote the island fluffle opposed higher density in his backyard.

    Why are we enriching businesses on the backs of Hong Kong freedom fighters.

  6. Looking forward to living in a Borg Cube, Just plug into the grid and wait for communiques from the master puppeteer.
    Resistance Is Futile !

  7. This Feinsmith and other NIMDYs antidevelopment folk like him are why Our area is in such a crisis for housing. 80 stories everywhere out of the flight path is SJO is what will help. If they relocate And have Reid Hillview the main airport then San Jose would actually be a great city that people in other parts of the state would know about. More people know Santa Clara and Santa Row then they do San Jose.

    All the cities in the county need to build, not a little 6-8 story building, but high, 80+. Yes this will increase traffic. Maybe it would produce enough housing to help our housing crisis (it would), maybe it would create enough ridership for VTA to stop having such poor farebox recovery (it would), maybe, just maybe the politicians would stop putting all the taxes on the ballots for homelessness and transportation (doubtful)? We could solve some major issues by allowing for sky scrapers and high density. Some cities in the county call high density 30 units an acres! That is so long large developers wouldn’t even build.

    As for the money, yes, everyone works for money. Developers take huge risks and support thousands of jobs. The higher the risk the higher the reward. Someone working a check stand has minimal risk and minimal reward. Very very few of us today would have a home if it wasn’t for developers. So respect the work they do. They aren’t bad people. They are taking giant risks to help our community, to help YOU!

    All the fees and regulations just limit their ability to do their job and make it more difficult and more expensive for us. One a house that costs just under 1,000,000 to build you might have nearly 100,000 in fees. So when you buy your million dollar house you have to pay 1.1m for it because the city puts that extra money to use for things we should already being paying for, if they spent their money wisely. They don’t, so we get stuck with an artificial inflation in the market.

    I could go on. It’s so sad people just moan about problems then make the problem worse.

    So many local politicians say “I support housing,” but in turn they do what Feinsmith does and vote projects down or downsize them, completely contradicting their statements of supporting housing.

Leave a Reply