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Santa Clara County Supervisor Pete McHugh's newest career plans are likely to raise some eyebrows: he wants to take a step back with a run for Milpitas City Council. He hasn't spoken publicly about his intention to enter the 2008 council race; he just made up his mind on the matter and says he hasn't even begun to think about the actual campaigning. It should be like riding a bike for McHugh, who served on the Milpitas City Council for 20 years before serving three terms representing Santa Clara County's District 3. The question is, if he's intent on making a homecoming, what's stopping the seasoned politician from mounting a strong campaign for Milpitas mayor? McHugh says he's been out of the local political loop long enough that people aren't as familiar with him. "I have been out of the city for 11 years while I have been representing the people at a different level," McHugh says. "I am not sure there is much memory from when I was on the council as mayor." McHugh, a Milpitas resident for 30 years, says a Senate or Assembly race might be a dream in the future, but for now his political opportunities are in his back yard. "I would love to stay on the board, but we have a term limit," McHugh said. "I hope the people of Milpitas will take me back."

Big Trouble inVietnam Town

One of the most interesting stories swirling around the Little Saigon controversy went like this: the whole mess began when Vietnam Town developer Lap Tang asked for the naming of a Vietnamese business district in an attempt to drum up investments from Vietnam so he could start construction on the troubled retail development that has been delayed for more than a year. Tang laughs off the story—it never happened, he says. But lost in the battle over the name are the very real problems he's encountered with his project, which will be the heart of the newly approved Saigon Business District along Story Road. Construction came to a halt last year after the foundation was laid. Tang, who also owns the Grand Century, says he had trouble getting United Commercial Bank to approve his $72 million construction loan to start work on the project. "They asked for some conditions we could not fulfill," Tang said. Specifically, the bank wanted each buyer who has purchased space from Tang (156 so far) to sign paperwork supporting the loan, something Tang refused to have his buyers do. Meanwhile, some buyers became frustrated at the lack of progress on the development, which was scheduled for 2007. Three buyers returned their deposits, because they couldn't afford to wait any longer, Tang said. But Tang assured Fly that he has worked out his differences with the bank and is in the process of getting his loan approved. Construction on the 300,000-square-foot center will start by the end of the month, with an opening expected by mid-2008, Tang said.

Inside Blooper

In the Feb. 5 election, Santa Clarans will have the chance to vote on a big zoning decision that usually gets made in city council chambers. Thanks to a relentless group of citizens activists who gathered over 10,000 signatures for their petition last summer, they can say "yes" or "no" to a multimillion-dollar housing development on the 17-acre plot that used to be BAREC (Bay Area Research and Extension Center). Measures A and B were forced onto the ballot by "Save BAREC" activists, with the help of ringleader Kathryn Mathewson, after the Santa Clara City Council approved the zoning needed for Summerhill Homes to build a bunch of expensive houses on the property. Opponents of the development (who are hoping for a "no" vote on both measures) argue that the land is too contaminated with toxins to build on, and that doing so would cause too much traffic in an already congested neighborhood. Proponents of measures A and B say developing the land is the more fiscally responsible thing to do. They've also been rallying senior citizens to join their side because the new development would include 162 units of affordable senior housing. Both sides packed over 60 elderly neighbors into the local library last week a heated debate. And by the way, if you read the Inside Santa Clara newspaper (published by the city government) in December, don't believe the article on this special election. Measure A/B opponents were adamant that we point out the misprint: City officials claimed there would be 265 units for seniors, inflating the real amount by over 100. Santa Clara spokesman Dan Beerman acknowledged the mistake and said they made sure it was corrected in all other official documents. Too bad those aren't the ones delivered to every voter's doorstep!

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