Tonight – back again – housing near Caltrain in Santa Clara

On June 13, the City of Santa Clara Planning Commission is meeting for a second time to review a housing/mixed use development at 575 Benton Street by Prometheus Real Estate Group, with 355 homes, retail and public space, at the intersection of Benton St. and El Camino Real in Santa Clara, within walking distance to Santa Clara Caltrain and planned future BART Station.   

This is a fantastic location for housing with retail, but the development could be improved with less parking, as appropriate for the transit-rich location, and more affordable housing. Read on for details.

On May 23, Planning Commission heard the item and deferred its decision to this week.   Public comment at the last meeting was fairly supportive, with some interest for additional affordable housing. However, some community members were urging to defer a decision for a year or two while the city works on its downtown plan.  

Though previous proposals for the site have included up to 450 residential units, the current proposal only proposes 355 units. Following the city’s agreement with the previous developer, Prometheus would provide 10% (approx 36 total units) of the project as below-market-rate housing. Of those homes, 11 would be restricted for low income and 25 units would be restricted for moderate income.

The developer had initially proposed more density, in exchange for more affordable housing, but the next door neighborhood association preferred fewer homes with less affordability. 

Located across the street from the multi-modal transit station served by Caltrain, ACE, Capitol Corridor, and VTA, planned for future BART service, the project is in the most transit-rich location in the city.

It is one block from Santa Clara University, and within walking distance to residential neighborhoods and commercial services. The project proposes 650 parking spaces. The project will widen sidewalks along Benton St, The Alameda and El Camino Real and add a bicycle lane along Benton. 

Despite these rich options to drive less, the project proposal includes 650 parking spaces. Data from Prometheus’s existing projects in the Bay Area show a utilization ratio of only 1.3 spaces per unit. Data from Transform’s GreenTrip and other sources suggest this can be even lower with a Transportation Demand Management plan, ridesharing/carsharing and offering permanent transit passes to residents. A parking ratio of 1 space per unit is reasonable and achievable especially since the project will likely house students from the adjacent Santa Clara University.

Do you want to see housing with retail and public space in Santa Clara across from the transit center?  What are your thoughts about parking and affordable housing?

At 6pm, before the hearing on the specific project there will be an earlier presentation from VTA staff on  VTA’s Transit Oriented Development Strategy around the Santa Clara Station.   The hearing about 575 Benton will be in the main meeting starting at 7pm. The meetings are at Santa Clara City Hall, 1500 Warburton Avenue. 

Come Wednesday evening, or send a quick note by email to the Planning Commission, to the attention of Elaheh Kerachian, Associate Planner –