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What City Council Approved
for Alma Bowl Development
by Ken Eklund
October 2003

to come-

To: Mayor and City Council
Fm: Councilmember Cindy Chavez

Subject: PD Rezoning of the Property located at Lick Avenue and West Alma Avenue


Adopt the Planning Commission and Staff recommendation with the following 5 additions:

  1. Direct Staff to work with the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) to negotiate a Development Agreement for consideration by the City Council with the following components:
    • Donation of 2 parcels of VTA owned land, totaling approximately 3.8 Acres, located at Tamien Station along Lick Avenue to the south of the main entrance and at Lelong Avenue to the north of the 87 off/on-ramp for development of recreation facilities; and
    • VTA contribution of $400,000 towards construction of decked, replacement parking at Lelong and the 87 off-ramp; and
    • Explore funding options for signal construction at Lelong and the Route 87 off/on-ramp
    • Development rights on VTA property located along Lick Avenue north of the station driveway for up to 250 dwelling units and up to 5,000 square feet in retail in conformance with the General Plan for the area; and
    • Broad design guidelines for the potential development consistent with the Bottomley Associates Design and City Planning conceptual plan developed earlier this year; and
    • Requisite related CEQA Review; and
    • Replacement of parking displaced by development of recreation facilities; VTA will take responsibility for the 100+/- spaces to be located to the east of Route 87 and the City/BSB would accept the $400,000 VTA donation and take responsibility for the 100 +/- parking deck located along Lelong Avenue.
  2. Direct Barry Swenson Builder to work with staff to provide replacement parking for those spaces displaced by development of the recreation facility and development of the Lick Avenue Park & PTRAC facility in lieu of payment of the PDO fees. The approach should be phased in manner consistent with the project in order not to overburden the proposed first phase of construction (townhouses and southerly mid-rise) and consist of the following components.
    • Phase I: BSB would contribute $1.4 million to the build out of the replacement parking deck on to west side of the station and combine with the $400,000 contribution from VTA for a total project budget of 1.8 million. Design and Construction will be completed to the satisfaction of the VTA
    • Phase II: BSB would complete build out of the Lick Avenue park space (approximately 2.2 acres) and associated curb and driveway loop improvements, and provide for construction of the PTRAC/Community building of approximately 1500 SF. Design and Construction will be completed to the satisfaction of Directors of Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood Services and Public Works Departments
  3. Details around phasing will need to be worked out between the appropriate City Departments, VTA, and BSB and should not interfere with the immediate development of the Tamien Skateboard and Courts facility along Lelong

  4. Direct the Department of Public Works (DPW) to work with the Barry Swenson Builder on the phased implementation of the following traffic calming and pedestrian improvements:
    • Reconstruct the traffic diversion islands at the intersection of Humboldt/Lick and Floyd/Lick to narrow street width and install trees in islands to provide visual breaks in the corridor
    • Construct bulb-outs at the Tamien Station driveway
    • Construct high visibility crosswalks along Lick Avenue to promote pedestrian mobility at locations to be approved by the Director of Transportation; i.e. textured or uplit crossings
    • Upgrade the Alma/Lick intersection to include ADA push buttons and pedestrian countdown signals
    • Contribute $125,000 towards the construction of a future signal at Lelong and Route 87 off/on-ramps, with potential reimbursement of the up to $62,500 should the signal be funded by VTA projects or the Elk’s development
  5. Direct Staff to explore opportunities to create trail spurs connecting the 87 bicycle trail to Alma and identify potential funding sources from future development, i.e. the Elk’s Site
  6. To insure architecture of superior design and quality at this visible and critical site, require applicant to hire an architect with proven experience and expertise in mid-rise residential design to the satisfaction of the Planning Director. Design development through the PD Permit phase should incorporate:
    • Staff’s design recommendations regarding set backs, revised landscaping etc.
    • Improved pedestrian interface and pathways to reduce the insular nature of the project along the various frontages
    • Interesting building massing, articulation and roof elements
    • Units of appropriate size and layout
    • Methods to increase the number of parking spaces
    • Public input at critical design stages



A clear priority for the City of San Jose is creating a framework for sustainable growth while maintaining a high quality of life in our neighborhoods. Towards this end, the Council has adopted several citywide policies, including the Greenline/Urban Growth Boundary, Housing Major Strategies, and Sustainable City Major Strategy. These three policies work together to promote higher density infill housing, especially close to transit facilities, in order to reduce pressure to build more housing at the fringe of the City, to reduce traffic congestion and to promote an adequate supply of housing for existing and future residents. The implementation of these policies varies project by project due to the unique constraints and opportunities associated with each potential site.

The Tamien Station area is second only to Diridon Station in transit importance within Santa Clara County, combining light rail, Caltrain service, and significant bus lines at a single location. Additionally, the area benefits from extraordinary access to northbound 87 and southbound Almaden Expressway and from the proximity to several business and retail districts; Willow Street Business District is3-4 blocks away, other nearby retail centers are within _ mile, and Downtown is a short light rail ride away.

The Tamien Specific Plan recognized the unique nature of this site, identifying it as part of the Transit Core area within the plan. While the density and heights outlined by the Specific Plan have changed since it was approved in 1995, the characteristics that make the area uniquely suited for transit oriented development have not.

The applicant is requesting a change in zoning to A(PD) Planned Development to allow development of up to 260 units on 3.18 Acres. The current proposal calls for 242 for-sale units, 228 condominiums in twin, mid-rise buildings adjacent to Route 87 and 14 townhouses along Lick Avenue.

To insure that the City maintains its goals of creating livable neighborhoods with a high quality of life, it is crucial that the public amenities outlined within the Specific Plan are developed simultaneously with the project.

This was a consistent message from the neighborhood since the proposal was first conceived in 2001. In this time, public hearings, community meetings and small group tours occurred to discuss proposed general plan changes, master planning of the VTA/ Sprig Electric/Alma Bowl site, and the proposed zoning. In meetings around the zoning, the applicant cited several benefits to the community, including new entry-level ownership housing and approximately 3 million in PDO fees. Overwhelmingly, feedback revolved around open space needs, traffic and parking impacts, public safety, and the proposed density and design of the BSB proposal.

The framework outlined in the recommendations leads to the creation of two parks for the area, replaces VTA parking, includes traffic calming and pedestrian enhancements, and provides for future development of the VTA site consistent with the Specific Plan. Providing public amenities in conjunction with the proposed development creates a win-win opportunity by increasing property values, leveraging resources, and maximizing the return on BSB’s, VTA’s and the City’s investment in the area. In so doing, we will be able to create an environment that benefits current and future residents in the community.

Given the prominent height, the location, and the public and private investment in the area, the design must be of superior design and quality. The recommendations above give the community the opportunity to provide input and the Planning Staff the tools necessary to insure that this project promotes the quality of life for residents who live, work and play in the Tamien Station area.



By combining strong design with the development of the public amenities, this project will present a unique opportunity to leverage public and private investment to address the many important goals shared by the City and the community. On going discussions between the stakeholders may achieve further refinements to the benefit of all parties. In total, the recommendations set a clear, predictable framework consistent with typical development obligations to achieve a win-win for the applicant, City, VTA, and the community.



This memo was coordinated with the applicant, VTA staff, the Departments of Planning and Public Works, and the City Attorney’s Office.



Copyright 2003