The site at the corner of Winchester Boulevard and Rincon Avenue has sat vacant for the last decade and the site’s developer told Campbell City Council that unless they made certain exceptions, it may remain vacant for much longer.
“I purchased this project from another local developer who received this approval,” said Scott Plautz, representative for the applicant. “It was economically and fiscally impossible for them to do. The numbers are really tight right now. Every dime that is imposed on this project … We will put a for sale sign like the previous developer and it can sit for another six years.”
The comments were in regards to conditions for approval made by the Campbell Planning Commission on May 22. In order to move forward, the commission said the applicant needed to relocate the electrical pedestal and traffic control box from Winchester Boulevard to Rincon Avenue and move the existing traffic light pole in order to make a “bulb out” that would include an ADA ramp.
The applicant came back and said their estimate of the work was about $90,000 but city staff said it was closer to $20-25,000. The applicant asked council at the June 19 meeting to either remove this condition or help out with the cost but Campbell Interim Community Development Director Paul Kermoyan said the issue was a fundamental one.
“What is the obligation of planned developments to perform public improvements?” Kermoyan said. “The city isn’t some company. We are a public entity. Should the public subsidize the development? This is the practice of the city, consistent to state law and any other city.”
Councilman Jeff Cristina was first at bat with comments on the applicant's presentation and requests and said he was reading “between the lines” with this particular project and applicant.
“The developer’s costs and financial qualms are not the city’s to bear,” Cristina said. “We have a plan, a community vision and a good developer will do their due diligence. These issues are coming to us to save a couple bucks. I don’t feel like we should be eating these costs.”
After much discussion, the council voted 3-2, with Campbell Vice Mayor Evan Low and Councilman Rich Waterman dissenting, to approve the project with the conditions recommended by the planning commission.
A Development, Six Years In
In November 2006, a project to construct a one-story commercial building at the former A&W site at 2135 Winchester Boulevard was approved.
Originally the project was set to be a 5,488 square-foot commercial building with four separate facades. The developer did not develop and the approval expired.
In 2009, the was approved, changing the requirements of developers along Winchester Boulevard. The main objective of the master plan is to improve the overall image and function of the streetscape along the busy corridor, making the boulevard pedestrian-friendly.
Along with these requirements are the relocation of current utility cabinets from Winchester to Rincon, the addition of bulb outs and ADA ramps and street trees, all of which were sources of contention at the June 19 meeting.
The current applicant reapplied in 2011 and the project, in order to conform to the newly approved master plan was retooled.
Entryways were made in the front of the building, facing Winchester Boulevard and parking was placed in the back, with access to the front entries through a breezeway between the two buildings as per the master plan.
Four trees will be removed, including two protected Redwoods and will be replaced with 10 new trees: Peppermint, Maple, Crape Myrtle and Flowering Pears.
The additional cost of relocating the utility boxes in order to expand the sidewalk to 15 feet and provide ADA-compliant ramps was something the developer did not want to do.
"I think the master plan is a good document for Campbell," Rodrigues said at the meeting. "It looks to the future, talks to pedestrian connection and architecture. I would really try to look at the master plan as a living document; guidelines. With good guidelines comes good design. This project is significantly better than what we approved in 2006 but the master plan did add to the cost."
The applicant argued that it should not have the same infrastructure imrovement requirements as neighboring because it is a much smaller project.
Councilman Waterman noted that he was concerned about this particular site.
“My concern … this is Winchester. This isn’t Bascom or downtown,” Waterman said. “It’s an eye sore. Yes it would be nice to have this idyllic Master Plan but this is one of the few times we are talking about development where there is a lot of neighborhood approval for it.”