Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran Flip-Flops on Proposal to Assess Homeless Residents

Given how flip-floppity he’s been and how he hasn’t quite made clear why he’d basically turn down tens of millions of dollars in state money to house the homeless, it’s hard to know where Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran stands on the issue.

Over the last few months, the Silicon Valley suburb has become a battleground for NIMBYs (not-in-my backyarders) and their pro-housing counterparts over plans to convert a motel into apartments for the otherwise unsheltered.

Tran has loudly opposed the project—which comes with a $30 million grant from Gov. Gavin Newsom to make it happen—because, among other things, its proximity to a BevMo! Put aside, for a moment, how the contention perpetuates harmful stereotypes about homeless folks being a bunch of booze-guzzling ne’er-do-wells, and consider this: Tran insists that he does, in fact, want to put a roof over people’s heads.

Alas, the Nov. 10 City Council meeting added another confounding layer to the saga.

With the aim of helping more homeless Milpitas residents find housing, Councilwoman Karina Dominguez suggested teaming up with the county to conduct thorough assessments. At first, the mayor backed the proposal, calling it “an item that is really important to me and our community” and said “the work needs to happen.”

In a rambling homily to follow, Tran said he just disagrees about how that work needs to happen. Instead of a county-led assessment, he floated the idea of taking money pegged for motel conversion and using it for hotel vouchers instead.

“I want to make sure we do something—if not, I’m going to vote ‘no,’” Tran declared before expressing concern about what “the headlines” would say the next day.

In the end, the mayor abstained from voting on the proposal, which got a “yes” from everyone else on the council. In a phone call with Fly, Tran defended his “opposition of the funding through abstention.”

That doesn’t explain why he didn’t just cast a “no” vote—or why he seems to be risking his political future by trying to turn down free money to appease the NIMBYs.

Send a tip to The Fly

The Fly is the valley’s longest running political column, written by Metro Silicon Valley staff, to provide a behind-the-scenes look at local politics. Fly accepts anonymous tips.


  1. The only value motivating Tran’s decision-making is his fear of being judged, which makes me think he is in the wrong occupation – many people who crave external validation become politicians, but they tend to be the worst when it comes to thinking independently or doing the right thing in politically difficult situations. His fear of Milpitas NIMBY judgement is what led him to do a 180 on this project, and his fear of being judged by homeless advocates for voting no on a project is what led him to abstain rather than vote against it. Both actions, the latter in a more transparent fashion, are prime examples of political cowardice.

  2. No matter it is state funding or federal funding, those money from tax payer. As a tax payer, I do care how our tax money had been used in an effected way.

    From Los Angeles Daily News by Susan Shelley updated at October 7, 2020 title with The very high cost of Project HomeKey. No double HomeKey is super expensive project.

    Dig into more about Milpitas HomeKey, I just aware couple fact:
    1. From, Extended Stay America Hotel Last Sold For $14 Millions at 04/14/2020.
    2. 7 months later, Santa Clara Count is going to acquire with $50 Millions for HomeKey Project.
    3. In 7 months, this property value increase $36 Millions during covid-19 pandemic period.

    After I dig into all the detail document, I just feel Milpitas Mayor just do his job to make sure TAX PAYER’s money have been effected executed.
    My 2 cents…. :)

  3. I am glad Mayor Tran stood up and supporting city residents, say “NO” to the project. As a public elected civil officer, especially the decision may impact on public safety and health, “Free Money” thought should never be one of the deciding factors. It is a shame if anyone thinks because “it’s free money” and Milpitas residents should accept whatever the project proposed. Just remember, nothing is free. The price should not be the resident’s “safety” and “health”.

  4. The real story is
    1. Mayor Rich Tran do support the homeless housing, the HomeKey in Milpitas is next to a crowded residential neighborhood and a park with children playground. Mayor Tran like to have more open discussion and chose a right location. What is wrong to create a win-win situation?
    2. The current location 1000 Hillview Court, Milpitas “Extended Stay America Hotel” was sold for $14 million dollars at 4/14/2020, now Santa Clara County bought it for $65 millions dollars. Is this how our tax money being used? Do we have right to challenge this over paid $50 million dollars?
    3. At Nov. 10, 2020 City Council Meeting, Mayor Tran suggested to use money wisely. Helping Milpitas homeless families to get off the street and have a roof to stay during the winter time is the high priority. He do support Milpitas homeless get assessed and put into the county queue. But why does Councilmember Krinas push the City to pay the County $200k to reassess our homeless, and at same time our homeless residents still on the street during the wintertime. Based on 9/22/2020 “City of Milpitas Memorandum, City Council Housing Subcommittee ” “At the time of this memorandum, there were 128 Milpitas households that had active assessments in theCounty’s HMIS system. Most of these clients were unsheltered and 79 needed permanent supportive housing. Approximately 117 of these clients would qualify for rapid rehousing or permanent supportive housing, but only 27 have been enrolled in the community queue for housing.”Recommended Option-
    Considering the number of homeless residents in Milpitas, the specialized nature of homeless outreach and assessment services, the cost of contracting for a full-time team, and the assumed budget of $75,000, staff recommends moving forward with option 1A (outsourcing part-time services with the Santa Clara County Office of Supportive Housing).”Here is the link for the Memorandum…/092220/attachment3.pdf

    So, the conclusion is that Mayor Rich Tran is a true leader who has courage to stand up for the right thing.

  5. In fact of the HomeKey in Milpitas is next to a crowded residential neighborhood and a park with children playground. The location is not about NIMBYs (in-my backyarders). It is at the center/heart of Milpitas residential and commercial area.

    1. 0.3 Miles to Bank of America Financial Center, 740 E Calaveras Blvd, Milpitas, CA 95035 (6 min walking distance)

    2. 0.4 Miles to Peter Gill Memorial Park, Santa Rita Dr & Paseo Refugio, Milpitas, CA 95035 (9 min walking distance) — Community park, offering multiple sporting fields, plus BBQ & picnic areas, a playground & restrooms.

    3. 0.5 Miles to Milpitas Town Center, E Calaveras Blvd, Milpitas, CA 95035 (10 min walking distance). — Shopping center with a range of specialty retailers, services & dining options, plus a supermarket.

    4. 0.7 Miles to Milpitas City Hall, 455 E Calaveras Blvd, Milpitas, CA 95035 (14 min walking distance).

    5. 1 Mile to Day Star Montessori School, 215 Dempsey Rd, Milpitas, CA 95035 (21 min walking distance). — Children’s Learning Center from Toddlers, Preschool and Kindergarten, ages 18 months to 6 years.

  6. On the contracst, Mayor Tran has overall considerations about how to help with the needs of Milpitas homeless people. He puts Milpitas homeless first. When Milpitas council was discussing if give away $200,000 to Santa Clara County for unnecessary homeless assessment, which has been done in September already. The result of the assessment does NOT offer chances to Milpitas homeless a right to get needed housing. He was the only one that did a comprehensive study and proposed providing hotel vouchers to homeless in order to cope with the cold winter holidays and also help the local hotels which are being battered hard by COVID-19 instead of repeating the not helping assessment.

    I am really proud of that Milpitas has elected a good Mayor to represent the whole community and dare to point out the budget issue of Milpitas city government. We have to face the reality: The primary target of Homekey project is not for Milpitas homeless. It will be used to put Drung Abuse and Mental Problem homeless. Milpitas homeles just won’t get the benefit from the federal grant. Even we are sympathy to homeless. We still need to consider those homeless in Milpitas first.

    Don’t cheat our Milpitas community with incomplete information. With Internet open to everybody, your intention will be under scrutiny . Your biased information will not be accpeted by Milpitas residents any longer!

  7. Mayor Rich Tran is doing exactly his job – to represent the voices of Milpitas residents, whether they are for or against the Homekey project, unlike a few other council members. He tried to find a win-win situation out of all this but did not get the backing of his other council members, and some are only interested in advancing their political careers. I believe he truly loves Milpitas and wants only the best for the city, now and in the long run.
    The key problem of this project is the location which is the reason for the opposition in the first place. It just so happened that a Bev-Mo was recently setup nearby. Mayor Tran was just pointing out a problem that we might run into in the future if the project is placed so nearby. The Milpitas resident coalition that is against this project are doing the same, trying to prevent very possible future problems that Milpitas will run into at this location. Why would we do this? Because the state governor, and the county doesn’t care about our small town of Milpitas. We do, and so does Mayor Rich Tran.
    We are not against helping the homeless. We want a situation where everyone, residents and the unhoused, can feel at peace. Placing a permanent housing for 55 years at Hillview will give neither party a sense of peace, and for a long time!

  8. Usually, I do not look up the editors of articles, but this one made me look-up. It is because the article reads like a paid commercial to soil the image of the Mayor. At the rate in the last 15 days, articles singing praises of council member Anothony Phan are coming in the media, portraying him the moralistic messiah, it is clear that this is not Journalism it is Paid-ism. Anthony Phan is busy licking the boots of higher up in the county and state to move up and naive Milpitas Residents and buying into his moral marketing story without understanding that he is burning their income to warm his own house. I have been attending the Council Meetings regularly and the Mayor is the one one who is willing to call a spade and spade and look out for the interest of Milpitas. AP and KD are just settling their scores.

  9. I am a Milpitas residence. I support helping homeless but it has to be in a sensible way and responsible way to the residence. It is politically correct to say yes to any homeless development and I admire the mayor to stand up and represent the residence. The city council is NOT acting in the best interest for the residence and they will pay for it. This incidence serves as a wake up call for the residence to participate in the city policy and remove those who serve other agenda.

  10. Mayor Tran is doing the right thing by opposing this project. He is just listening to us residents who are understandably concerned. Why don’t the other larger cities in the county take those state and federal dollars themselves and leave this small already overcrowded city alone.

  11. This article reads like a paid commercial to soil the image of the Mayor. At the rate in the last 15 days, articles singing praises of council member Anothony Phan are coming in the media, portraying him the messiah, it is clear that this is not Journalism it is Paid-ism. Anthony Phan is busy promoting himself and naive Milpitas Residents and buying into his moral marketing story without understanding that he is burning their income to warm his own house. I have been attending the Council Meetings regularly and the Mayor is the one one who is willing to call a spade and spade and look out for the interest of Milpitas. Other council members are just settling scores.

  12. Mayor Rich Tran is the only person that is standing behind Milpitas citizen while the others are turning their back on us! He hear the voice of our residents and he stand strong to back us up regardless of he is the outcast on the board. We elected our council members and our major to represent us, but the council members have fail us. They don’t listen to our voice like Mayor Rich Tran, they are doing what county wants them to do to advance in their political careers, they should be ashamed of themselves! The council members have forgotten their roles of as Milpitas council members. They have forgotten that they are working for us. They are not working for the county. They have failed to hear the 4000 plus voices screaming and asking them to stand with us. Homeless support has started way back in President Reagan era, but have we see a decrease in homelessness? We have not and so you know why? Granting a homeless person a place to stay will not help them grow but it will help them to stay lazy and be homeless. We need extensive programs to help these homeless to get back on their feet within 6 months. Homekey is a fail project as it does not help one milpitas homeless on our town, county did not have a plan on how to help these homeless being placed here, Jamboree is cashing in our tax payer dollars as each studio came out to be 450k per unit, it is situated in the wrong location, and all residents living in the neighborhood disapproved this project. We are the tax payer, it does not matter if this is a Covid era or the Einstein era, we should have a right to voice our concerns, our children safety and how our money are being spent. It is not about fairness or that we don’t have compassion, but this project is just wrong. I am so glad that we have our Major to back us up and to hear our concerns and our voices as opposed to all those council members kept saying this is for the new age and the new world, i would like to invite them to buy a home here once the project started before they kept saying this is a good thing. Council Dominguez and council Phan don’t own a house in Milpitas, so their words don’t truly represent Milpitas, they are representing themselves and what they think is best FOR them. So please when you write your article, you need to look up the history and don’t just write about the hype of the situation. As a journalist, you have failed badly in your reporting. You should do more homework before you start blasting on people.

  13. I applaud Mayor Tran for his leadership and standing up for the Milpitas residents. The Milpitas City Council Members are supposed to represent and serve the residents of Milpitas who elected them. It’s unfortunate some City Council Members deliberately take sides, push their own political career agenda and sell our city for selfish motives.

  14. Update: at point #2. The Hotel explaines that it was not sold in April 2020. It was an internal corporate transfer, so the land, because of Prop 13, has not been assessed in over a decade. The land was last assessed in 2020 for $13.2 million.

    • Hi Jessica, as noted in the story the land was last assessed over a decade a go. That is directly from the Santa Clara County Assessor’s Office.

  15. Last line of the story says Tran is “trying to turn down free money”. But isn’t all the state grant money going to the previous owner and the contractor doing the remodeling from hotel to homeless residence? And all the city, county, and other local governments get going forward is zero property tax from the new public entity instead of 1% x $13.2 million = $132,000/year currently?

  16. I just can’t understand why people think because your homeless you are a threat to our community. There are a lot of good people that have gone from a normal family to being homeless. For many years I was only one or two paychecks from being homeless. You hypocrites need to look inside yourselves and reevaluate your conscience and have more compassion because you might be next.

  17. Mayor Tran did the right thing to back up Milpitas residents. Not like other city council members sacrifice the interest of Milpitas residents for their own political gain. Shame on them! Milpitas is the dumping ground of Santa Clara county and city of San Jose. Newby landfill, now homekey, what is next?

  18. The assessment was based on 2010 assessment since the transaction in April 2020 was simply an acknowledgment of ownership and not a sale or construction and did not warrant a recalibration to value. Also noted, distinction between assessment vs market value.

  19. > I just can’t understand why people think because your homeless you are a threat to our community.

    We invented civilization and capitalism so people would know how to produce things and feed themselves.

    At some point in your life, you were probably shown how to participate in civilization and feed and house yourself.

    You have rejected civilization and chosen to revert to an existence of a hunter gatherer.

    Humanity learned ten thousand years ago that hunter gatherers will forage in the fields and flocks of the productive unless civilization discourages them.

    Go forage somewhere else.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *