After taking the month of July off for summer break, the Milpitas City Council is back in session; their regular meetings resumed on Tuesday, August 7.
Here’s a breakdown of some key decisions made at the pair of meetings they’ve held since their return:
The Transient Occupancy Tax
August 7, 2018 Meeting
Just a few days before the filing deadline, the Council voted to add a ballot measure to the upcoming November 6 ballot, which would give voters the opportunity to vote on increasing the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT). The TOT is taxed to hotel guests, and is currently at 10%. The ballot measure calls for bringing the TOT tax up, anywhere from 10% to 14%; funds would go toward things like enhancing public safety, maintaining the parks, and pothole repair/street paving.
Councilmember Bob Nuñez was positive about the possibilities that an increase in TOT would open up for Milpitas: “I think it’s important. We need to be compettive. Going to the 14% allows us to add services. I know that the BART station that’s coming is going to be valuable to us with the additional taxes we will generate at the Great Mall and other parts of community,” said Nuñez. “But with that comes the need for other public safety staff. Part of that will come from the TOT. We can take those dollars and put them in to public safety right away. And keep in mind, those dollars are going to come from persons other than the residents here. They’ll come mostly from businesspeople and other people visiting.”
City Manager Julie Edmonds-Mares also expressed positivity on the matter: “We’re excited about the Council recommending that we move the TOT increase forward for voter consideration, and the potential to broaden our service further to support the growing community,” Edmonds-Mares said.
The Cannabis Use Tax
August 7, 2018 Meeting
Although cannabis businesses are not yet legal to operate in Milpitas, Council was presented with an opportunity to place a Cannabis Use Tax on the upcoming November 6 ballot. Having this tax in place would ensure a framework to prepare for the integration of cannabis cultivation and businesses in the future, and also provide a pathway toward more funding for general city services. However, the motion failed to pass, with Councilmember Garry Barbadillo opposed. (A supermajority of all four present Councilmembers was needed to seal the deal. Mayor Tran was away at the time with the Air National Guard, helping with the wildfires.)
Milpitas has a Cannabis Moratorium Ordinance in place, which prohibits uses of cannabis that were made legal by Proposition 64; and that moratorium expires on January 17, 2019.
“The Council did not have sufficient votes to move that forward onto the ballot for a sales tax. So they asked us to look into alternative strategies,” said City Manager Edmonds-Mares. “There are different levels of legislation surrounding cannabis. So they asked us to look into things like zoning ordinances. And so we’re considering whatever paths we can potentially take. There are several models out there from other jurisdictions. We’re evaluating those and bringing them back to Council in the months ahead.”
Pilot Permit Parking Program in the Pines Neighborhood
August 21, 2018 Meeting
Made up of 976 homes, the Pines Neighborhood has been experiencing a severe lack of street parking, most likely due to an influx of residents from the new high-density housing (in the form of the Apex Apartments and Ilara Apartments) in the area. The City Council voted unanimously to move forward on a Pilot Parking Permit Program, which would go for 6 months, and issue permits to households on certain streets that are suffering from the most overcrowdedness. The permits would be required in order to park on the street from 12am – 6am, every day. The goal during this period would be to more deeply study the issue, and determine whether or not permitting would alleviate the parking problem.
Many Pines residents came out to express their approval for the pilot program…
“The parking in the Pines is really a mess. I do hope that the permit parking will help,” said Pines resident Elizabeth Hoehnle. “But I do think that when it comes to building new apartments, please consider the parking. Make sure there is also enough parking for the residents as well.”
After the residents spoke, Mayor Rich Tran spoke of his belief in the idea that harmony can exist between the single-family community and all the high-density housing that has recently sprung up, and will continue to be built in the area. “I want to say I appreciate all the Pines residents for being out here tonight. The Pines is certainly the heartbeat of Milpitas,” said Mayor Tran. “And I understand some of the challenges you may be going through.” He went on to say that the pilot program would be a great first step toward achieving the harmony of which he spoke.
While the Council did vote to move forward with the program, they also asked that further community engagement be conducted to connect with Pines residents, as well as the Pines HOA.
The next Milpitas City Council meeting happens on Tuesday, September 4, at 7pm.