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April 30, 2010 > Milpitas redevelopment growth continues

Milpitas redevelopment growth continues

By Steve Wyant

Milpitas City Council and Redevelopment Agency (RDA) continued progress towards adding 600 acres to its footprint in spite of a potential lawsuit by Santa Clara County.

During the April 20 joint Council and RDA meeting, there was a unanimous vote to adopt the slate of resolutions that will continue the process. The next step will be a second reading of the ordinances and adoption of the proposed Amendments at the May 4 Council meeting.

The additional areas proposed for redevelopment include the Town Center Business Park, the Adams residential area on the eastern edge of Calaveras Boulevard, the Selwyn Drive/ Shirley Drive loops, the Fiesta Shopping Center area east of Dempsey Road and a section near the Great Mall, at the northeast corner of Piper Drive and Montague Expressway.

Santa Clara County first expressed its opposition to the plan at the April 6 Milpitas Council Meeting. Lizanne Reynolds, Deputy County Counsel for the County of Santa Clara submitted a comment letter and report, stating that Santa Clara County believes the proposed amendments do not comply with Community Redevelopment Law (CRL), lacking sufficient evidence of blight in both the existing redevelopment areas and the proposed added areas.

"The County Board of Supervisors will make any further decisions after discussing the matter with County Counsel in closed session," Reynolds responded in an email after the April 20 meeting. Previously, she had stated that "the only remedy the County would have is filing a lawsuit."

In the report compiled for Santa Clara County by Seifel Consulting Inc., they state the RDA amendments will adversely impact the County by $343M and local school districts by $1.2 billion. The report concludes the RDA does not adequately document physical or economic blighting conditions, does not provide the CRL-required maps for blighted areas, does not comply with requirements for ten-year plan extensions and does not demonstrate a nexus between the conditions identified as blight and the Redevelopment Program required to address the conditions.

In short, the Seifel report states the areas are not sufficiently blighted and the RDA has not adequately defined why the private sector cannot be counted on to improve the areas.

The RDA has responded to the County's objections by examining each point of the report and conducted its own analysis, disputing each of the Seifel report's claims.

"You're confident our findings of blight will stand up if they do challenge us legally?" asked Vice Mayor Pete McHugh on April 20 of Paul Anderson, a senior principal at Keyser Marston Associates, who developed the response for the city.

"It's impossible to know how a court will evaluate information and facts before it but we believe, as well as your city attorney and your special legal counsel, that we've made the necessary findings, and that they would stand up to scrutiny," explained Anderson.

McHugh went on to question whether Siefel's report might be grounds for a charge of negligence. According to Anderson, this point is a difference of opinion amongst professionals in the field.

"I've seen many of these objections to the RDA over the years but the County's assertions were really weak . . . I was somewhat disappointed in what the County had written," concluded Mayor Robert Livengood.

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