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Community News

Community Meeting -- April 15, 1999

A community meeting was held Thursday, April 15th at the Santa Teresa High School gymnasium. This was the third meeting hosted by the Santa Teresa Citizen Action Group. The first two meetings dealt primarily with the relocation of the Lucky store at Plaza de Santa Teresa to the new Bernal Plaza shopping center. Although the Lucky's/Plaza de Santa Teresa issue hasn't been resolved yet, this meetings primary focus was to discuss information gathered since the March meeting about the proposed Calpine power plant. The acoustics were much better this time as we could here the presentations just fine.

Elizabeth Cord of Santa Teresa Citizen Action Group (STCAG) opened the meeting and started out by thanking the audience (approximately 250) for coming. She introduced the ladies sitting up in front of audience which included Sharon Anderson of the San Jose Police Department crime prevention department. She introduced Marcy Kohler of STCAG. She also introduced Roberta Mendonca and Lorraine White of the California Energy Commission. She introduced Dan Stockton from Great Oaks Water Company who was in the audience. He would be available for any questions after the meeting regarding the contaminated well at Santa Teresa and Cottle. Finally, Ms. Cord introduced the other families who were part of the STCAG steering committee who were in the audience.

Sharon Anderson was the first to speak. She was still amazed at how many people from our community come out to these meetings. She says normally only about 40 people attend meetings that she is at. She wanted to share additional information about the "cat burglar" who has committed crimes in the area. There have been nine homes in the San Jose area hit and four or five hit in the sheriffs district by the "cat burglar." There have been two specifically in the south San Jose area on Dondero Way and Duesenberg Drive. A description of one of the suspects has been identified as a 20 to 25 year old Hispanic male, 5'8" with dark hair and dark eyes. He wears dark clothes and brown gloves. The burglaries happen between 12am and 5am usually when people are in their homes presumably asleep.

Ms. Anderson suggested that we keep our cars as empty as possible and to park our cars in a well lit area if not in the garage. Our cars should be locked. She also said those phony flashing alarm lights are effective as a deterrent as well as The Club. The burglar is coming into the homes through side garage doors. He is taking small items such as purses, laptop computers and cameras. She suggests that we keep lights on in the house so it looks like someone is up in the house. We should keep our porch light on and to definitely use monitor lights if we can. If you have a burglar alarm, make sure that trees and bushes are trimmed so burglar can see it. It is a deterrent if he knows it is there. She wants to push neighborhood watchese and will provide information to anyone interested. Finally, she suggested that we call 911 if we see anything suspicious such as people or cars that don't belong in the area. She said that Tony Tran is the crime prevention specialist for yellow district which is our police district.

Mary Davi from Lucky's came from the audience to give the community an update on their empty store at Plaza de Santa Teresa. She said that she was unable to attend the last community meeting and that Phil Pichulo, a vice president of Lucky's, was unable to attend tonights meeting due to a recent heart attack. He will be back to work on Monday though. She said that Lucky's has hired Trestle Management to go out to the property twice a week and suggest proposals for ongoing maintenance items. Currently they are working on the pigeon problem. She said that Lucky's is doing research on the seniors and their transportation needs. She said that Duckett-Wilson, the principal owner and property manager of Plaza de Santa Teresa, has a deadline approaching to close escrow if they are going to be purchasing the Lucky's building. She said that Duckett-Wilson gave permission to Lucky's to try and contact Trader Joe's and Smart & Final again as possible tenants for the site. She said that the site will not sit there empty and asked the community to hang in there and not to get too aggravated.

Ms. Cord began her presentation. She said that there wouldn't be a presentation tonight about the Cisco campus, but it will be addressed at a future meeting. There isn't much new information yet for Cisco. She then began to share the inforation that STCAG was able to gather since the last meeting regarding the Calpine power plant. She said that Calpine has put down a deposit on the Tulare Hill land and about ten acres adjacent to Tulare Hill. They now have an option to buy the land, but haven't purchased it yet. In order to build the power plant, Calpine will need a general plan ammendment and a zoning change from the San Jose City Council since that land is currently zoned for campus use right now. She showed a brochure provided by Sobrato Development which gave a representation of what a campus type construction would look like. She also described where the power plant is proposed to be built. The area is bounded by Tulare Hill, Monterey Highway, Bailey Avenue and Santa Teresa Boulevard.

Calpine suggested that STCAG going to the Gilroy Calpine power plant to see one of their power plants. There were several pictures in the foyer showing what the power plant looked like as well as well as some conceptual drawings of what the new power plant might look like near Tulare Hill. Ms. Cord also said that the power generated by the new power plant goes to the western power grid and then distributed to whereever it is needed. The power doesn't necessarily stay in south San Jose or San Jose for that matter. Calpine did say that union labor will be used to build the power plant which should take eighteen months. However, once the plant is built, it will employ about twenty to thirty people which is about the same as Taco Bell in the area. Finally, STCAG has been in contact with people who were involved in the Sutter County power plant process.

Roberta Mendonca, public advisor of the California Energy Commission, made her presentation where she showed how we participate in the power plant siting process. Instead of going through her entire presentation myself here from my notes, Ms. Mendonca will provide us with her presentation that we can read right from this web site. I will provide a link to it when she has it ready. Her role is to enable the public so they can participate in the process. The California Energy Commission is in Sacramento. They have a web site, email address and an 800 number to interact with the public. The siting process is an open process. There will be many meetings needed. If we want evening meetings, we have to ask and push for them, because it is much simpler to have them during the day when the power plant representatives are normally at work.

Someone from the audience (Otto?) asked if the rumor were true about the site being an Indian burial ground. The California Energy commission ladies didn't know about that. They did say that if those types of issues came up once the process started they would be investigated.

Elizabeth brought up that the new power plant would produce 186 tons of nitrogen oxide which works out to about 1/2 ton per day every day.

Ms. Mendonca explained about how to intervene in the process. She said it is a higher level of participation with more responsibilities, but you would be furnished with all of the documentation. On May 1, 1999 Calpine will be submitting their application which shows what they want to do. The public will have access to it in the local public library. Once the data provided is deemed adequate, the energy commission staff begins their own analysis. The staff reports to the Energy Commission. Their preliminary staff analysis is critical and would be available on the California Energy Commission web site.

There will be workshops on all issues, but they are very informal and anything said doesn't end up in the hearing record. None of the information is official or used as evidence. It will not be read by the commissioners who decide the case. A story about the Sutter County power plant was told which involved cropdusters who had concerns about the transmission lines and their inability to safely dust the crops. Since it was only brought up in an informal way and not done in an intervening process, the commsisioners never were able to use it in their decision making process. We were told to intervene and to intervene early. Ms. Mendonca also said to get copies of the testimony and that we can get public comments into the record at the end.

Lorraine White of the California Energy Commission explained what the staff does. She would be the Metcalf Energy Center project manager if it proceeds. Ms. White said that the Calpine proposal would have to comply with all local laws and standards. Calpine has a problem since the site is not zoned for this type of industrial use. There is also a problem that there is a height limit of nine stories and the smoke stacks are thirteen stories. The city council would have to rezone the land and change the laws/standards that would allow Calpine to have 130 foot smoke stacks. If the land isn't rezoned, the power plant can't comply with the laws and can't be built. Ms. White explained that not every project gets approved by the California Energy Commission. She explained that it is our role as citizens to inform the staff to represent us in their analysis. The staff is working for us (citizens of south San Jose and for citizens of California) to make sure it meets all standards.

Someone from audience asked if power plants usually get built in the first site chosen by the applicant. Ms. White responded that the Crockett plant has been moved four times before it was done. She also explained that South San Francisco was approved by the commission, but it is "not compatible with the surrounding neighborhood" and will never be built. Sutter was also approved, but it is questionable if it will ever be built. Ms. White explained that the stack height is not in compliance with the nine story limit. The local council would have to change laws so plant could be built.

Someone from audience asked what percentage of permits have been approved in the last two years. Ms. Mendonca said the statistic would have little meaning since not too many power plants have been built lately. However, the California Energy Commission has gone from zero to eighteen applications this year. Although the mayor and all of the city council members were invited to attend this meeting, none attended. Ms. Cord said that the rezoning issue of the site is slated to come before the city council in November.

Someone from the audience asked how much tax revenue would be generated by the plant. Marcy Kohler said that she believes they would only be generating property tax revenue. Since they are a wholesaler of power, they won't be producing any local sales tax revenue.

Someone asked if the Calpine proposal would be for a specific site. Ms. White said yes it has to be specific but they also have to have two other alternative sites in their proposal.

We were told that if anyone wants to object to the power plant being built, it can't be for the simple reason that we don't want it in our neighborhood. We have to have evidence that can be supported as to why the power plant shouldn't be built.

Someone asked if the proposal was stopped at the land use level since the site wasn't rezoned for that kind of use, would that kill the project. Ms. White said yes and no. Most likely that would kill it, but the California Energy Commission does have the right to let the project be built if there was a shortage of power being produced based on the states needs. Although that isn't the case right now, so it is probably not a real issue at this time.

After Calpine submits their proposal on May 1st, the next 45 days would be used to determine if there is enough information. If it is deemed adaquate, the process would take probably an additional ten months.

Ralph Ahlgren, a chemical engineer from the neighborhood, made the final presentation of the evening. He gave about seven reasons why from a professional perspective he is opposed to the power plant being built so close to our neighborhoods. Instead of trying to get all of his facts translated from my notes, I will try to get his presentation up on the web site as well.

Everyone who is opposed to having the power plant was asked to take a petition and sign it and try to get other signatures from their neighbors. The completed petitions would then be forwarded to the mayors office.

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