City Council Approved
for Alma Bowl Development
by Ken Eklund
To: Mayor and City Council
Adopt the Planning Commission and Staff recommendation with the following 5 additions:
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
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 BSBs, VTAs and the Citys 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 Attorneys Office.