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Flood Zone:
Opportunity at Hervey Lane
by Concerned Neighbors
January 2005


The North Willow Glen Neighborhood Association generally supports the housing proposal known as rezoning PDC04-112 at Hervey Lane and Minnesota Avenue. But we have a request of you. There is a direct relationship between this development site and the fact that much of our neighborhood has been placed in a FEMA flood zone. We view this
proposal as the proper opportunity to solve a problem that severely affects the North Willow Glen Neighborhood. We feel and expect that you, as our Councilman, can help us with this encumbrance. We also feel that the result will be positive for all involved. This is the chance of a lifetime.

The Hervey Lane site lies atop an artificial levee that was formerly used by a railroad. The railroad tracks have been removed and this parcel is now privately owned and there is no longer a need for its tall height. In fact, the current existence of the levee literally pushes the flood zone area farther west, artificially, and this is what impacts our neighborhood in a negative manner.

We are asking you to support the proposal but with the request to require the developer to remove the levee, and bring the site back down to its former natural grade. We are also asking that you request of the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) that they facilitate this. They need to allow, in the rare case of a possible flood, that the floodwaters be enabled to go back to the Guadalupe River, like nature intended prior to the installation of the artificial railroad levee. This may involve the SCVWD parcel, northeast of the bend in Padres Drive where it becomes Creek Drive; the parcel which is in essence owned by us, the public.

Hundreds of households in our neighborhood are currently suffering from the financial burden and impact of having to pay premiums every single year, of $250 to $1400 for homes with basements. Traditionally, our area has also been an area of lower family incomes. In this flood zone, people are forced to abide by more restrictive building permit regulations than the rest of San Jose. That is not fair. We have been losing many of the old historical homes with basements because people choose to demolish when faced with severe restrictions.

This is an opportunity of a lifetime. Naturally, we assume that no one really wants to build homes up too high, overlooking the existing ones and disturbing privacy. So we hope that the developer would easily cooperate with this request. Also, there must be a strong likelihood that much of the soil here would be contaminated from heavy railroad use, and it would need to be removed anyway as it would be undesireable for future yards where children will play some day.

Please help us in this endeavor that we know can end up in a win-win situation. The high levee is no longer needed because there is no need for the railroad any more, and some compatible housing can be built on an unusual-shaped parcel of land. North Willow Glen, and even other parts of Willow Glen can be relieved of some burdensome government flood zone regulations. With the levee gone and the site brought down to native grade, the floodwaters would head back to the creek, thus sparing the entire North Willow Glen Area. This will go a long way in helping to preserve the historical character of North Willow Glen and help people financially to be able to put money into home improvements instead of flood insurance premiums.


Copyright 2003