Milpitas City Council candidate Suraj Viswanathan today released a key city document regarding Project HomeKey which reveals that “city officials have been less than forthcoming with residents” and accused the city of a “complete lack of transparency on this important issue.”
The document is an August 25 memo from the Building and Housing Director Sharon Goei to the Mayor and Councilmembers through City Manager Steve McHarris. The memo is dated a month prior to the public first learning in media reports about the $29 million long-term housing project at Hillview Court.
The memo indicates that the city had met months prior ( as early as July 24 ) to apply for the grant from the California Department of Housing and Community Development ( HCD ). “This was done behind closed doors by city officials, the county and developer without public knowledge, input, or hearings,” Suraj said.
In addition, the memo implies that the “targeted population” for HomeKey would not necessarily be Milpitas residents but a broader population of homeless.
In addition, the memo states that HomeKey would be exempt from the normal local permit reviews or “approval process” through a waiver called a “by-right” contained in Assembly Bill 83. “This means the residents have no say, this project –regardless of the merits – is simply imposed on the residents of that neighborhood, for better or worse. This is wrong.” Suraj said the memo calls for an “outreach process” to “educate and engage the community” only after HCD approves the application.
“I’m not saying that Project HomeKey is necessarily a bad thing. The bad thing is the decision-making process which cuts out public and neighborhood concerns, locks out residents, and is made behind closed doors with faceless county officials and developers. This is not the way city government should operate. We need an investigation of this entire process because this is not the way public business should be conducted.”
The memo from the city can be found at: http://www.ci.milpitas.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Info-Memo-Project-Homekey.pdf
Residents have also requested all public records and communications from the city and county about this project.
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