Santa Clara City Manager Adds Pacific Grove Home to Portfolio

Santa Clara City Council members concerned about raising City Manager Deanna Santana’s half-million-dollar salary by 4.5% to help her keep up with the valley’s escalating cost of living were recently accused of “workplace intimidation and hostility” for comments at a council meeting that discussed how public dollars are spent on public salaries, including Santana’s.

One of California’s most highly compensated municipal officials for several recent years, Santana makes more than three-quarters-of-a-million dollars a year when benefits like retirement contributions are taken into account.

Sounding a lot like a vulnerable employee getting ready to file an HR complaint against her supervisor rather than a highly compensated top executive, Santana recently played the harassment card and has lawyered up. At the Dec. 14 council meeting, Santana lashed out at “reckless and uniformed dialogue” by “some councilmembers.”

Deanna Santana

“This is a new low,” she opined about a “false allegation” that she colluded with a city employees’ bargaining unit that Santana described as laboring with “insufficient resources” to provide “white glove service to our community.” She demanded a “public apology.”

Rather than beg for forgiveness, Councilmember Anthony Becker shot back, calling for fiscal responsibility and mentioning that it is, after all, the public’s money.

Santa Clara residents have undergone a 114% increase in their cost of living as the average wage decreased by 1.2%.

With three homes in the couple’s $5 million-plus real estate portfolio, Santana and her husband spent the past weekend far from her tormentors in working-class Santa Clara. She took refuge at her newly purchased $2 million, two-story customized home in Pacific Grove on the picturesque Monterey Bay. Real estate marketing sites describe the home as a “sought after…very rare” abode with high ceilings and white oak hardwood floors and a gas-burning fireplace in her living room.

The house is three blocks from Lover’s Point, which one blogger describes as “the most beautiful beach in California…with calm, translucent waters on one end, and jagged rocky coastline on the other.”

This past weekend, cars were parked in the driveway and a couple emerged to go for walks in the cool ocean air. Whether she returned to the valley in time for the Tuesday afternoon council meeting is anyone’s guess, thanks to the modern miracle of virtual teleconferencing backgrounds.

Santana and the city’s public information officer did not respond to San Jose Inside inquiries at deadline.

Pacific Grove, in Monterey County.
Photo by Alexander Cicak.

In addition to the three-bed two-and-a-half-bathroom safe space in Pacific Grove, she owns a four-bedroom four-bathroom condominium in Sunnyvale and a home in Fremont.

She is the highest paid city manager in the state, by more than $100,000, with an annual compensation (salary plus one-time payments) in 2020 (the most recent year available from state controller) of $521,527.

In 2020, she was paid nearly twice as much as the mayor of Los Angeles.

Her top four assistants were each paid more than $368,000 in 2020. Santana was previously San Jose’s deputy city manager, then Oakland’s city administrator and Sunnyvale’s city manager before accepting Santa Clara’s top job.

Santana has also been scrutinized for her city paid travel, which includes first class tickets and jaunts to France, Washington, DC, Atlanta and Hawaii. In 2019, she spent $940 on a chauffeured ride through the French countryside on the city’s tab.



  1. Deanna Santana is in her early 50’s, that’s why she traded in that housing allowance for a bump in base salary and why she’s fighting for an overgenerous raise despite city employees are not getting raises. With the fight she’s caused at the City of Santa Clara, Santana is looking to retire with half-a-million annual lifetime pension and benefits. The Santa Clara City Council should stick to their guns and terminate her and those she’s brought on. Like every other household in the state, if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. And taxpayers in Santa Clara can’t afford Santana or those like her.

  2. you people are such easy marks

    as the streets fill with homeless, the schools fail your kids, and the government schemes to keep your 45b overpaid taxes

    this incompetent gets filthy rich off your white guilt

    goodness how do you face your kids?

  3. I agree. I wouldn’t have put it so nicely though. These “easy marks” are idiots, and their idiocracy affects us all.

  4. How dare the City Manager own real estate property. How dare the City Manager has a house with white oak floors. How dare the City Manager goes on walks with her husband in the cool ocean air. How dare the City Manager has a safe space. How dare the City Manager lawyered up regarding her legally binding employment contract. How dare the City Manager defends herself when accused of pension spiking and collusion. How dare the City Manager turn her back on the working-class Santa Clarans on weekends. How dare she have such an impressive resume.
    How Dare She.

  5. We lived in San José, near Santa Clara, since 1986. For decades, one could notice how the potholes disappeared when biking from San José into Santa Clara, and how there was a lot of government turmoil in San José but never in Santa Clara. Around 10 years ago, these situations started to reverse. (Yes, we have done repaving here.) Funny, this was about the time that Santa Clara got themselves a football team and started to plan Levi’s Stadium. Is the City of Santa Clara now like a third world nation that struck oil?

  6. The Council approved a 5 year deal for Unit 9 a yr ago, two yrs of 0% increases in 2020 and 2021 and no merit increases in 2021 and 2022. 4.5% is in the third yr of the agreement and she is entitled to what Unit 9 receives per her contract. She took zeros for two yrs like everyone else. Its public info

  7. Fed Up Janice, your concerns about the depth this article goes to make its point are legitimate. Unfortunately, you veer off track with a heinous logical fallacy at the end of your comment–her immutable characteristics (being female instead of male), have nothing to do with the discussion of her corrupt financial maneuvers. To suggest otherwise not only avoids the subject, it wanders rather gleefully into the territory of conspiracy theory.

    I continue to be amazed at how a nation of alleged adults can throw out such nonsense without blushing. You are not alone, however. Just above your fallacy, How Dare She has polluted the comments section with histrionics that never once address the controversy Ms. Santana has brought upon herself.

  8. No Jerry, the city didn’t strike oil with the 49ers. They are like a parasite on the city draining time, money, and energy. People who voted for this were very foolish.

    The compensation of this CM is mind boggling. How have salaries gotten so far off the rails?

  9. Ms Santana actually fought to make the 49ers organization pay more of the cost at that stadium saving the taxpayers in Santa Clara some money. There is always two sides to a story and all the information is not always available for the peanut gallery to see.

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