I read the article where three members of the Milpitas city council voted to nix the La Quinta 150-room motel at 1000 Jacklin Rd. and was confounded. Although I didn’t attend the council meeting to hear the full depth of citizen response, the article was clear on two points. One, that the traffic generated would be a troublesome increase to the surrounding area and the “visual prominence” of the nearby hills would be disturbed.
Let us deal with the first, the impact of traffic. I want to posit the real scenario of a traffic day at La Quinta. I’m driving either from the north or from the south with a stop at a local motel at the end of the day. My GPS tells me to “take the next exit to your destination,” so I turn off at Jacklin Road and immediately see the motel signage and pull in to the parking lot. Not much impact there. One hundred and forty-nine other cars do the same thing in the next few hours. That occurs late afternoon. Once we’re all signed in and settled into our rooms, the urge to eat comes upon some of us. We get into our cars and over the next few hours visit local restaurants, IHop, El Toritos, or maybe Red Lobster, where we spend $40 (dinner for two, and maybe the kids, too). That’s about $3M yearly in gross income to our local businesses—not bad. Since that travel distance is about a mile from La Quinta, not much traffic impact at that late hour here either. So, after a good night‘a sleep we head off back to the nearby freeway beginning about 4:00 am and all 150 cars are off to continue to the next night’s rest to create another “troublesome increase” in another community’s traffic patterns.
We can also add financial gain to Milpitas. A portion of the sales taxes on that $3M gross income, taxes on the registration charges for the motel rooms, hotel taxes, and other various sundry charges to the motel visitors.
Let’s then take a look at “visual prominence” of the nearby hills. I ran into a similar obstacle when I was trying to develop a 9-acre parcel with 17 upscale hillside homes in the nearby foothills, less than a 1/2-mile from the La Quinta site. In that case, the term used was “maintaining the pristine view of the hillside.” In the 1800s, the hillsides were pristine, but today there are lots of homes built on the “pristine land.” The folks along Hillview and the streets joining to the west were most vocal. So I thought I’d see for myself and took a stroll along Hillview from Calaveras to Jacklin Road and beyond, all the time looking towards the east and the hills. From Valencia Dr. north to Tassasara Dr., there was the freeway sound wall and many trees. Even going down the adjoining streets to their westward ends—NO “visual prominence” to be seen. Even at the McMansion home being constructed at 859 Alisal looking toward the proposed site for La Quinta, there was no “visual prominence” for the folks on that street. Incidentally, where was the citizen outrage when that project was presented to the city council? At the corner of Jacklin Road and Hillview, a site closest to the La Quinta site, I look towards the Shell station just in front of my vision to La Quinta and the “visual prominence” was blocked by both the Shell station and the Jacklin Commons buildings. While discussing the “visual prominence,” how tall is the cell tower at the site?
So what does all of this add up to? I titled it the “La Quinta Paradox“ because it is a set of propositions that are absurd on their face. As shown above, there is no big traffic impact that would warrant voting NO on this project, and the “visual prominence” argument is lacking serious intent, amusing, and frivolous. It baffles me that after paying the planning department experts huge sums for the adherence to zoning codes and planning propositions, Mayor Richard Tran and Councilwomen Karina Dominguez and Carmen Montano seem to think they know more than their paid experts, who incidentally approved the project. Even the Milpitas Police Department was positive on the motel. Council hubris beyond belief—unless they were pandering to a select group of constituents rather than the financial growth of Milpitas.
If I were Mr. Joe Gigantino, I’d be talking seriously with my attorneys to put forward a challenge against the City of Milpitas. Maybe I can get my La Quinta built using other people’s money?
A 57-year Milpitas Resident