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Friday, May 29, 2020
Letters to the Editor 
Voice of Milpitas group opposes La Quinta Hotel in Hillview Neighborhood


Voice of Milpitas group opposes La Quinta Hotel in Hillview Neighborhood

Dear Editor:

The broader neighborhood sprang into action late last October when those within 1,000 feet of the corner of Hillview Drive and Jacklin Road received postcards announcing a Planning Commission meeting that was expected to approve the Planning Department’s recommendation to build a 5-story La Quinta hotel to replace the closed 2-story health club at that intersection. Standard building codes have in effect limited the height of all homes and businesses to two stories in this neighborhood and for ½ mile radius; a special “exception” is required to build higher.

Eventually we persuaded the Milpitas City Planning Commission to reject the proposal for this imposing hotel by a vote of 4-2 at their January 15 meeting. Now the landowner has appealed to the Milpitas City Council. The Council plans to decide whether to approve construction of the hotel in a virtual (online) city council meeting on Tuesday, April 7 with public participation. This does not seem appropriate with the existing COVID-19 crisis still ongoing and with many Milpitas residents focused on their families staying safe and healthy. We would prefer the meeting to be delayed but if not, here are our primary objections to the hotel:

The hotel would be five stories, 105 rooms, 230 feet wide, 67 feet deep, and 73 feet tall (plus approximately 25-foot cell towers atop, behind a façade). The current (and charming) clock tower would be replaced; it is 15 feet square and 63 feet tall. The hotel would obstruct the beautiful hill views seen from the neighborhood homes and the very popular Hetch Hetchy Trail from up to almost a mile away. It would destroy the character and peacefulness of the neighborhood and set a bad precedent. It would be the very definition of a “dominating visual prominence,” which is supposed to prevent the requested exception from being granted.

It would compound the already terrible morning traffic on narrow Hillview Drive and its many cul-de-sacs, as dozens of hotel guests try to leave from narrow hotel access driveways and jockey with Hillview residents taking children to school or daycare. The city’s traffic report claims that peak traffic would be reduced by 46%, ignoring current traffic realities by a) citing a traffic study that uses reference book data to estimate projected hotel traffic in isolation, regardless of road capacity or any interactions with existing traffic, and b) comparing traffic to that of more than a year ago when the now-closed health club was still open.

Approving this hotel with “exceptions” would set a terrible precedent that could affect any community in Milpitas. Many Milpitas residents we speak with are already upset about the extensive building that has already occurred in the city, and these projects didn’t request building exceptions. Imagine exceptions becoming the norm.

Parking, including new underground parking, would barely meet standards (one space per room). The owner says trucks and trailers will not be allowed in the lot. Adjacent businesses will not allow hotel parking. Overflow parking into the small neighborhood cul-de-sacs would be inevitable, as occurred when the health club was open.
The City’s Planning Department Staff Report stated that the hotel would improve the location’s aesthetics, visibility, traffic circulation, and community pride. We disagree.
Construction would take 18-24 months and would entail 450 dump-truck trips. Even an empty dump truck exceeds the 4-ton maximum allowed on Jacklin Road and Hillview Drive.

Who would pay for road repairs?

Some parents of children who attend the KinderCare daycare (less than 50 feet from the hotel) and the Tien Tien school have already indicated they would remove their children from those convenient, well-regarded local services, based on the construction and the proximity of so many strangers.

The hotel would potentially invite crime, such as “smash and grabs,” with quick getaway available on I-680.It would have bright exterior lighting all night.

We have serious concerns about its viability as a business: Business travelers rarely stay in midscale hotels like La Quinta. In contrast to its competitors along Calaveras/237 and McCarthy Ranch, this hotel would have no restaurant and there are none nearby, and it would be farther from the large employers of western Milpitas, Fremont, and North San Jose. Vehicle entry and exit from the hotel would be difficult, especially in the morning.
Four new hotels are being built in Milpitas, bringing the total to 24. Condos, homes, and apartments are being built in a frenzy of construction. Property taxes and the 14% Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) are steadily increasing city revenues. The owner’s projection of $700,000 in annual TOT revenue for Milpitas is speculative, not guaranteed, and it is tied to room rates. In any case, considering the daily lives of our citizens, the beauty of this neighborhood, and the precedent this hotel would set, it should be rejected regardless of the potential TOT revenue.

We reached out to and met with the landowner to explore alternatives, including educational or youth-oriented uses, but no agreement could be reached.

Do you want the City Council to allow exceptions to standards so that this 5-story dominant hotel could be built in this established neighborhood, setting a precedent for any community in Milpitas? If not, then please express your objections to this project by:
Attending the virtual April 7th City Council meeting at 7:00 p.m.

Signing our petition opposing the hotel (Google “Stop La Quinta on Jacklin Milpitas”).
Stating your concerns to the City Council in an email to: [email protected]

Calling the City Council members.

Their phone numbers are:
Mayor Rich Tran 408-586-3029
Vice Mayor Bob Nunez 408-586-3023
Anthony Phan 408-586-3032
Carmen Montano 408-586-3024
Karina Dominguez 408-586-3031

Voice of Milpitas
Search @VoiceofMilpitas

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