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Milpitas
Sunday, May 31, 2020
Letters to the Editor Facts vs Fiction, regarding the La Quinta Hotel project

Facts vs Fiction, regarding the La Quinta Hotel project

Dear Editor: 

On March 27 a neighborhood group calling themselves the Voice of Milpitas sent a letter to the Milpitas Beat concerning the La Quinta Milpitas Hotel project. Unfortunately, the article was filled with inaccuracies and misstatements. People are entitled to their own opinions but not their own set of facts. Here are the facts:

Fact: The statement made by the opponents “that 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, and a special exception is required to build higher” is not true.

First, the proposed hotel is located in the Highway Services zoning.  This zoning designation was put in place by the City of Milpitas in the early 1970’s. The hotel is in a different zoning area than the residences on Hillview. Second, there isn’t a height restriction in areas zoned Highway Services.

Fact:  The independent environmental and traffic experts, hired by the City of Milpitas, found there would not be any significant environmental impacts that could not be mitigated, that the design and height did not create a dominating visual presence, and traffic would be 46% less than the previous use as a health club. These findings were based on national and state guidelines and are commonly used by cities across California and the nation. The opponents have not offered any evidence to dispute these findings only opinions, speculations, and hypotheticals. Neither Mr. Gigantino nor any member of the La Quinta Project team had any input as to the selection of these independent consultants.

Fact:  The neighborhood group describing itself as “the Voice of Milpitas” stated the Parking would “barely meet standards (one space per room)”. We wish to thank our opponents for conceding we meet the City of Milpitas parking requirements.

The benefits to the City of Milpitas are clear. First, this project will make an investment in Milpitas of over $20 million dollars. Second, it will create over 100 jobs. Third, it will generate TOT tax revenues of an estimated $700k a year. This comes at a time when the city projects revenue shortfalls of over $1 million this fiscal year and $14 million dollars next fiscal year. While the hotel has a two year construction schedule, these tax revenues will help pay for city services such as public safety, road repairs, park maintenance, and our dedicated city employees when the hotel is completed and while we still will be facing revenue challenges. 

Some background. Mr. Joe Gigantino has owned the property for over 22 years during which he operated Milpitas Health and Fitness for over 18 years before selling the business but retaining the property. Mr. Gigantino has served on city commissions, supported local nonprofits, donated to the school district, and sponsored numerous sports programs. With the changes coming to the health club industry and new competition in Milpitas, it was time to remodel or go in another direction.

While looking at other alternatives it was important for Mr. Gigantino to start a project that was a win-win for the Gigantino family and the City of Milpitas. When he checked the city zoning, he found his parcel on Hillview and Jacklin was zoned “Highway Services.” The permitted uses included fast food restaurants, homeless shelters, public storage and hotels among other uses. Remembering the original owners of the site, the operators of the Bay Hill Athletic club, had told him the site was designed to be a hotel, The Gigantino family decided to look at hotels. Impressed with the design of the La Quinta Hotel just built in Morgan Hill, the Gigantino family reached out to La Quinta to begin business discussions. When the top executives from La Quinta Corporate visited the site on Jacklin their first words were “this is a hotel site-its perfect, right next to a major highway.” During these discussions with La Quinta, hotel industry financial analysts hired by Mr. Gigantino, estimated a first-year gross of $5 million dollars. With a Transit Occupancy Tax rate of 14% that meant $700k in tax revenue to the city of Milpitas. The gym had never generated revenues like that for the city and so it seemed this project could truly be a win-win.

We are now at a point of decision for our city council. Are we to believe in facts or fiction? Are we to believe in the professionalism of our City staff and recognized industry experts? Or are we to believe a neighborhood group who distorts the truth, exaggerates concerns, provides no facts to back up their opinions, and describes everyone who disagrees with them as corrupt and unethical?

Milpitas voters passed an increase in the TOT tax rate from 10% to 14% to have visitors to Milpitas help pay for city services. This project when built will generate significant revenues for the City. It will create jobs and a beautifully designed hotel serving visitors to Milpitas.

We urge all community members to call our city council members at 408-586-3010 and let them know why you support the La Quinta Milpitas Hotel project.

 

Mark Tiernan

La Quinta Milpitas Project Team

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