Board of Supervisors Expected to Finalize Special Election Date

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors votes Tuesday on whether to hold a special election June 4, with a possible June 30 runoff, to replace disgraced District 2 Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr.

Shirakawa resigned a couple weeks ago, mired in scandal for spending taxpayer money to feed, among other things, his gambling addiction. There’s a criminal case against him now, which could land him a year behind bars.

Meanwhile, the remaining four supervisors decided to hold an election for the District 2 seat instead of filling it by appointment. The election will cost the county’s Registrar of Voters $1 million, according to staff.

There’s some speculation as to whether picking an early June date over June 25, the latest-possible deadline, was colored by political motive, as a more immediate date tends to favor more readily funded candidates.

More from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors agenda for March 12, 2013:

• The county’s Housing Authority seeks to issue $28 million bond debt to remodel an apartment complex called Villa San Pedro, located at 282 Danze Dr. in San Jose. The 100-unit apartments, run by a private company, will be reserved for low-income families and seniors.

• The county’s grading and hillside development policies haven’t been updated since 1978. Supervisors will consider some changes intended to streamline the permitting process and make the language current and clear. Other updates include rules that require developers to build roads that make the least visual impact to the natural landscape, buildings that blend in architecturally with the hillside and grade the slope with softer angles instead of conventional sharp planes and plateaus.

Most of the applications to develop county land include provisions for grading and hillside development since the bulk of unincorporated land lies on a slope. The guidelines for hillside development try to protect steep slopes, because they’re more environmentally sensitive and building on them could ruin the rolling hills that surround Silicon Valley.

Hillsides are also tougher to access for emergency responders and experience more wildfires, soil erosion and landslides.

• Owners of a home built in 1928 called the Semeria Castle, on Country Club Dr. in Los Altos, are trying to get it listed as a historical site through the county. The county’s Historical Heritage Commission recommended that supervisors approve the request, as the property owned by Arya Behzad and Maryam Eshghipour meets all the criteria as a historic site.

The Norman Revival-style home was built for military veteran Henry Semeria, who fought during WWI in France and later settled in Los Altos after finding work as a dealer in wholesale clothing.

The building also qualifies for the California Register of Historical Resources. The two-story, wood-framed home features a steeply pitched roof with extended eaves, a three-story round tower and curved clay Mediterranean-style tiles. The county could lose out on some tax revenue if it grants the property owners’ request since historic properties get discounted tax rates.

• One American gets infected with HIV every 9 ½ minutes, on average. More than 3,000 of these men, women and children live in Santa Clara County. About 800 of those infected don’t even know they are, the county says. That’s why the county’s Department of Public Health wants to distribute home-testing kits. The goal of the outreach effort is to cut through barriers that would prevent some people from getting the testing they need—and ultimately reduce the disease’s transmission.

• Supervisor Dave Cortese wants to require further review for real estate and broker commissions that exceed $250,000 in a county transaction.

• Supervisors will consider updating health insurance agreements for in-home care providers—one is an 18-month $4.7 million dental coverage agreement and the other is a $1 million vision policy.

• It’s currently illegal to host fundraisers at the county government offices. Supervisors will consider lifting the ban, which applies to the site at 70 W. Hedding St. in San Jose.

• The Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System is asking supervisors to approve a $33.4 million, four-year contract for a new data system called Healthlink.

• In 1998, state water quality regulators found too much poop bacteria in south county streams. They blamed Gilroy, Morgan Hill and the county. Ever since, the county and those two other guilty towns have had to pay their share—about $15,000 a year for the county—for constant testing to make sure they don’t violate rules about how much fecal coliform’s floating around our waterways. Supervisors will consider a contract renewal for the company that monitors that testing.

WHAT: Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors meeting
WHEN: 9am Tuesday
WHERE: County Government Center, 70 W. Hedding St., San Jose
INFO: Lynn Regadanz, Interim Clerk of the Board, [email protected]

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. It’s one thing to speculate that there is some sort of dirty politics between setting a June 4 date over a June 25 date, but I don’t think James Rowen has established a credible motive.

    Two of the likely candidates had made moves to position themselves to run for Shirakawa’s seat several months ago.

    It’s fair to say that Shirakawa’s resignation was expected for at least a couple of months.  It’s not clear to me that the June 4 date will favor Chavez over Alvarado, because they’ve both been preparing for it for a few months now. It’s also not clear to me that either Alvarado or Chavez will have an additional head start over over the other potential candidates.  The other candidate, and the other potential candidates had the same few months to get ready too.  Chavez and Alvarado are already are favored, but that’s something everyone understands, and pushing back the election by a few weeks isn’t going to change that.

    What seems clear from watching video of the last supervisors meeting is that many of the questions that the supervisors asked were not asked for the benefit of the particular supervisor asking, but were asked so that the answers would be part of the public record.  It’s not like the supervisors or their staff wait to question the County staff to figure out what the parameters and limitations of their choices are.  If you’re a supervisor, doing your homework, and making sure the County staff will have the answers you’re going to ask is part of doing your job.  It doesn’t have to mean that there is anything inappropriate is going on.

    Like psychologists say, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”.

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