A petition in opposition to the La Quinta Hotel project proposed to be built at 1000 Jacklin Drive has been circulating around Milpitas.
Currently, it has garnered the support of over a few hundred people.
A group of these residents, who prefer to go unnamed, recently sat down with The Beat to share their story, and their reasons for doing all they can to keep La Quinta out of Milpitas.
A recent Notice of Public Hearing for the La Quinta Hotel project was put out by the City, announcing the Planning Commission meeting that will take place on Wednesday, December 11. It also included information about needing to relocate “wireless telecommunication antennas and equipment to the rooftop of the building.”
The petition details this particular issue; already, the proposed hotel is set to come in at 73 feet high (10 more feet than the current clock tower structure), and the addition of cell sites on top of that did not sit right with the residents with whom we spoke.
These concerned residents have been handing out flyers, complete with photos of the Hetch Hetchy trail running through Peter Gill Memorial Park. The photos show a view of the hills, as well as the clock tower on the defunct fitness building that’s currently there.
“The clock tower in the photo would be replaced by the huge 5-story hotel with cell towers on top, forever impacting the Hillview and Santa Rita area View Homes and the View Trails, both currently the best in Milpitas,” read the caption under one of the photos.
Currently, cell sites are present on the property, some of which stand separately from the building itself. On the ground, the cell sites look rather prominent, and some residents are concerned about how they will look once placed atop the roof.
However, the owner of the property, Joe Gigantino, says there’s no reason for alarm:
“You will not be able to see any of the cell equipment. It’s all hidden behind the parapets,” explained Gigantino. “It’s disheartening that people would spread something false instead of coming to me and asking for the facts.”
He mentioned that the cell sites had been there for over 25 years, and were the reason that people got such great cell phone coverage in that area. While building the hotel, the builders would place the cell sites on the roof, completely out of sight.
The petition also lists “increased crime and accidents” as another concern. Residents fear that the presence of a hotel in that location would lead to car break-ins, as the close proximity to the 680 freeway offers the opportunity for thieves to get away quickly.
The Beat spoke to Captain Raj Maharaj of the Milpitas Police Department, and in looking at crime stats over the last 30 days at hotels close to the area of the proposed La Quinta site, he found there were no burglaries or drug-related crimes. And in pulling stats of the nearby hotels for the last 12 months, he found that there were a couple of commercial burglaries and 7 robbery incidents.
“When you look at numbers for all these areas together, it’s minimal compared to auto burglaries happening on the west side of town,” said Captain Maharaj.
He went on to mention that Milpitas has had 234 auto burglaries in the last 3 months, which predominantly happened at Ranch Drive, Barber Lane, the 237 corridor, and the Great Mall parking area.
Another cited concern on the petition is “traffic disruption and parking problems.” Residents behind the petition feel a La Quinta Hotel will only complicate an area that already sees its fill of cars crowding the streets of Jacklin and Hillview, along with surrounding streets, during the early morning hours, when people are heading to work and school.
But Gigantino mentioned to The Beat that when the fitness center was open, there were anywhere between 700 and 800 people coming in and out of the lot every day, and the surrounding streets never had a problem with increased traffic. He also brought up the fact that the hotel would only have 105 rooms, which to him indicates the potential for even less traffic than was seen with the old location.
The concerned residents who recently met with The Beat take no comfort in Gigantino’s reasoning. They recall a good deal of traffic in the area from when the fitness center was open, and are worried that with the hotel, many cars will opt to park on the streets in front of residential areas.
“The city is on the hotel’s side to build this, due to the occupancy tax. Are they really assuming full occupancy of the hotel?” asked one Milpitas resident who preferred to remain nameless.
He was referring to the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) voted on by the public in last November’s election. The 14% tax allows the City to collect fees from motel and hotel owners.
Several residents that spoke with The Beat said that they would not have purchased their homes years ago if they had known that their view of the hills would be partially obstructed by a hotel. A few of them mentioned how much they enjoyed walking the trail at Peter Gill Memorial Park, and are upset about potentially losing the current view that they have of the hills. They also mentioned their dismay over the fact that there are two schools (KinderCare and Tian Tian Academy) located in the same lot as the proposed hotel, and that it would pose a risk to children’s safety.
“All business owners have a social responsibility. You have to strike a balance between making money and being socially responsible to society. This is not responsible to society. We’re compromising children’s safety, and health, and lifestyle of local residents. It’s not acceptable,” said one resident who lives near the proposed location and also owns a business in Milpitas.
This group of concerned residents is currently gearing up for the upcoming December 11 Planning Commission meeting. Their intention is to have as many people as possible come out in opposition to the hotel, in an effort to show the City that welcoming La Quinta into the community would not be a popular move.
On Facebook recently, Mayor Rich Tran shared one of The Beat’s articles about the La Quinta project, asking the community directly if they support it. The vast majority of those who answered said that they would not support the project.
Some suggested other alternatives for the location, among them a Trader Joe’s, a school, and a dental facility.
Out of all the many comments, only a few residents on the post waged their support.
Last week, Gigantino felt compelled to reach out to concerned residents on Next Door:
“I was on Next Door for 4 days, answering people and giving them the facts, and somebody had me banned on there, so I couldn’t communicate anymore,” said Gigantino. “But during the time I was there, I invited everyone on the thread to dinner, to come talk and discuss the project…go through the renderings and reports…”
Given all the concern being expressed over the hotel, Gigantino was disappointed when only two people took him up on his dinner offer.
“I wanted people to come talk to me,” said Gigantino. “And not one of the naysayers against the project came and saw me. Two gentleman did, and we had a great conversation and a great dinner. And I feel they have the facts.”
Mark Tiernan, a consultant on the project, told The Beat that the La Quinta Hotel would provide over $500,000 a year in transient-oriented taxes to the City of Milpitas. “We really appreciate all of the comments made by the community for this project. We understand that change can cause uncertainty and sometimes fear. We really appreciate all of the members of the community who took the time to research on the City website that the traffic impact will be 46% less than the previous gym, that the congestion in the morning, which is always a concern, will actually be less now with a hotel than with the gym…” said Tiernan.
The December 11 Planning Commission meeting will start at 7pm, and take place in Council chambers at City Hall, located at 455 E. Calaveras Blvd. All are welcome to attend.