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Smart Voter
Santa Clara County, CA November 2, 2010 Election
Measure Q
City of Saratoga

Majority Approval Required

Fail: 6,939 / 49.28% Yes votes ...... 7,143 / 50.72% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Nov 23 2:45pm, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (31/31)
Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

Shall the City of Saratoga adopt an ordinance setting a two-story limit for buildings on land in Commercial and Professional and Administrative Office zoning districts in the City and requiring voter approval of any future change to the two-story limit on those lands?



Impartial Analysis from the city attorney
This measure would establish a two-story limit for buildings in the City's Commercial zoning districts and the Professional and Administrative Office zoning district. It would create certain exceptions to that limit and require voter approval of any changes to the measure through 2039.

The City's existing zoning code sets no limit for the number of stories in Commercial zoning districts and specifies building height limits ranging from 20 to 35 feet. In the Professional and Administrative Office ("PA") zoning district, the zoning code sets a two-story limit and a 30 foot height limit except in the Saratoga Village, where more than two stories may be allowed if found to be compatible with existing structures and the natural environment.

This measure would amend the zoning code to set a two-story limit for buildings in all Commercial and PA zoning districts. The measure would not apply to the C-N(RHD) zoning district near Prospect Avenue and the Lawrence Expressway. The measure also includes an exception that would allow more than two stories in the Saratoga Village if the building is on the Northwest side of Big Basin Way (between Big Basin Way and Saratoga Creek) and the highest point of the additional story or stories is no more than 42 inches above grade at any point on the building facade on Big Basin Way.

The two-story limit would apply to all lands currently zoned Commercial or PA, even if the lands were rezoned to a different land use category in the future. The measure adopts definitions of the terms "story", "basement", and "grade" to be used in administering the two-story limitation.

The measure would apply only to land zoned as Commercial or PA and would not apply to any residentially zoned or other property. The measure authorizes the City Council to allow any existing structures that do not comply with the measure to remain as legal conforming uses. The measure provides that it may not be amended or repealed before December 31, 2039 except by a vote of the people.

A "yes" vote on this measure would adopt the two-story limit described and require voter approval of any changes to the measure through 2039.

A "no" vote on this measure would result in no change in the existing City Code.

This measure must receive a majority of "yes" votes in order to pass.

/s/ Richard S. Taylor
City Attorney, City of Saratoga

A copy of the full text of the measure is available for review in the office of the City Clerk at 13777 Fruitvale Avenues in Saratoga, the Saratoga Public Library, and at

  Official Information

City of Saratoga

Pros and Cons, Ballot Measures
Tuesday, October 12 7:00 PM Saratoga Library, 13650 Saratoga Ave., Saratoga 95070 (co-sponsored with AAUW) Wednesday, October 13 7:00 PM Campbell Library, 77 Harrison Ave., Campbell 95008 (co-sponsored with AAUW)
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Arguments For Measure Q Arguments Against Measure Q
Restore Saratoga's Two-Story Height Limit for Commercial Areas

On June 24 the Saratoga City Council held a televised public meeting with the Restore Saratoga Initiative Steering Committee and agreed to work toward a mutually acceptable way to address the recent changes to commercial zoning ordinances. This Measure resulted.

On July 21 the Saratoga Planning Commission recommended the City Council place this Measure on the ballot and that same evening the Council voted unanimously to put this Measure to a citywide vote. The Restore Saratoga Initiative Steering Committee unanimously endorses this Measure.

The City of Saratoga was founded as a semirural, low-density residential community. Many residents moved here to enjoy this distinctive feature. Saratoga remains unique among South Bay communities because of its quiet atmosphere and open space areas, its wonderful mountain and hillside views, and neighborhoods minimally affected by commercial development.

Saratoga has a 50 year history of generally restricting buildings and development to two stories. That restriction has been crucial to avoiding high-density development, helping to control traffic and congestion, promoting safety and protecting viewsheds.

Several recent multistory, high density proposals have threatened Saratoga neighborhoods. Our longstanding two-story limit remains in place for residentially zoned property. However, the story limits for the CH-1 and CH-2 commercial zoning districts (the "Village") in were recently removed, and other key changes were made regarding height and density regulations in commercial areas throughout the city.

The purpose of this Measure is to restore the two-story height limit in those zoning districts and require voter approval of any future change to the two-story limit in any commercial or professional/administrative areas throughout Saratoga.

This measure applies only to land zoned Commercial or Professional/Administrative and Office and does not apply to any residentially zoned property.

/s/ Jill Hunter
Vice Mayor, City Council Member

/s/ Lori Ellingboe
President, El Quito Neighborhood Association

/s/ Willys I. Peck

/s/ Yan Zhao
Planning Commissioner

/s/ James W. Foley
President Vineyards of Saratoga Homeowners Assoc

Rebuttal to Arguments For
Save the Village, Vote NO on Measure Q. Measure Q's two-story limits restricts the ability of decision makers, architects and community members to design unique, green, interesting, eclectic and viable retail space to continue the Village's life, use and ability to attract new jobs and businesses.

Measure Q limits the number of stories, not total building height, eliminating many building types that would serve a significant economic and community benefit. Designers are continuously coming up with economically feasible ways to improve projects and existing buildings to help meet community goals. The use of articulation, massing, color, roof types and finishes are tools that make projects successful. Restricting buildings to two stories to protect views is shortsighted and irrational.

Saratoga should not have a blanket two-story restriction, but should instead continue to plan for and review projects on an individual basis, allowing for detailed study on location, view corridors, adjacent uses and buildings, and community benefits. By removing accountability from those we elect to make these complex decisions, all Measure Q offers is more costly elections for the next 30 years.

Take a walk through the Village and see the variable heights, styles, finishes and colors. The most interesting and enjoyable buildings in the Village exceed the Measure Q restrictions, which add to its character and charm. Having the flexibility to have buildings work within their surroundings is beneficial to everyone.

Save the Village, Vote NO on Measure Q.

/s/ Connie Mintegui
business owner

/s/ Abbas Haghshenas
Owner - Saratoga Resident

/s/ Michael Tsakiris
owner Michael Anthony Salon

/s/ John K. Swensson

Vote NO on Measure Q to prevent continued economic decline of the village and help restore it as the historic downtown core of Saratoga. Measure Q was written without a community vision for Saratoga or the Village, and restrains the will of residents and businesses for the next 30 years. Why vote NO on Measure Q:

  • Unfair: Measure Q story restrictions are lower than current buildings in the village and Saratoga.
  • Less Public Open Space: Story restrictions will be reduced and locked in by voters, but not limits on building mass through floor area ratio or setback restrictions. Buildings will become larger in mass, encroaching on property that could otherwise be used for open space, parking, and other public amenities.
  • Economic Vitality: Reinvestment in commercial properties will be inhibited, restricting availability of new office and retail space, limiting Saratoga's ability to keep and attract new businesses; reducing City tax revenues.
  • Less Public Oversight: Final decisions to build above the two-story limit in Measure Q will now require costly citywide votes. Saratoga already has a multi-year public review process in place for development proposals, admirably administered by our planning commission and city council. Measure Q will usurp that process leaving it with less bearing, prompting businesses to go directly to voters with their proposals.
  • Sprawl: The County's population is estimated to grow 31% over the next 30 years. Measure Q restricts the community's ability to adequately plan for growth in core areas of Saratoga, pushing future demands into neighborhoods, open spaces and outlying areas. Be prepared for more driving and less walking.
  • Unintended Consequences: The City did not study any long-term impacts of Measure Q, including compliance with state laws dictating qualifications for state transportation funding.

Save the Village, vote NO on Measure Q.

/s/ Robert V. Cancellieri
58 Year Resident/Village Property Owner

/s/ Kenneth Olcott
Civil Engineer - Resident

/s/ John K. Swensson

/s/ Michael Shadman

/s/ Mahnaz Khazen

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
The "No on Q" Ballot Argument was submitted by the Government Affairs Director, Silicon Valley Association of Realtors (SILVAR.) NONE of their 17 Officers/Directors appear to live in Saratoga. Why should a non-Saratoga group dictate our community's values or vision for the future?

The "No on Q" argument is signed by commercial property owners/ developers. They should have done their homework. Their ballot argument states "Measure Q story restrictions are lower than current buildings in the Village and Saratoga." That is false. There are no three story, above grade, buildings in the Village, Quito Center, Gateway. Go to the Village, please verify that for yourself.

Their "The Sky is Falling" arguments ignore the fact that Saratoga has had two story limits for commercial and residential property for over 50 years, until this April. Measure Q will simply restore those two story limits to Commercial property. Residential property already retains its historic two story limits and will be unaffected.

They argue "Measure Q "restrains the will of residents ... for 30 years." False: it EMPOWERS the will of residents for 30 years.

The Measure Q opponents are correct about one thing: the County population is predicted to grow 31% in 30 years. Do you want 31% more traffic in Saratoga? We have a right to preserve the semi-rural atmosphere, fine schools, natural beauty and other quality of life issues that inspired us to move here.

YES on Measure Q for Quality of Life in Saratoga

/s/ Evan S. Baker
Former Member Saratoga City Council & Saratoga Woods Homeowners Ass'n. Board Member

/s/ Hong Tai
Heritage Preservation Commissioner & Bellgrove Spokes-Person

/s/ Cheriel Jensen
Retired County Planning Associate and Former Saratoga Councilmember

/s/ Stan Bogosian
Former Saratoga City Council Member

/s/ John F. Mallory
chair, "save the North Campus", and Former Saratoga City Councilman

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Created: January 6, 2011 14:59 PST
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