The neighborhood protest filing was done in two parts.

Read the three-page early document.

Read the 27-page late document.



Opposition to the Tamien Place Development
proposed by Barry Swenson Developers


July 12, 2003

To: City Planning
The San José City Council

801 N. First Street, Room 600

San José, CA 95110

The purpose of this letter is to:

  1. Express our opposition to the Tamien Place Development as proposed by Barry Swenson developers, File #PDC 02-072, including General Plan Amendments GP01-T-08 (pertaining to the Alma Bowl/Sprig Electric site to increase maximum building height from 65 to 120 feet), GP03-03-03 (pertaining to the Alma Bowl/Sprig Electric site to change from mixed use to purely-residential (25-150 dwelling units/acre), GP01-03-07 (pertaining to Alma Bowl/Sprig Electric site to change from mixed use (25-65 DU/AC) to mixed use (25-150 DU/AC), resulting in increased density, and GPT03-03-03 (pertaining to the Alma Bowl/Sprig Electric site to reduce minimum setback along Lick Ave. from 15 to 10 feet).
  2. Express our opposition to the General Plan Amendment GP01-T-06 (pertaining to the Elks Club Site to increase maximum building height from 65 to 120 feet).
  3. Express our dismay regarding the lack of notification and proper procedure for the development of large and controversial projects. We contend that input from Neighborhood Associations in the impacted areas and the surrounding community should have been solicited and taken into consideration at the development stage.
  4. These amendments, and this proposed project are counterproductive to the City’s Planning Department’s goal of restricting high-rise/high-density housing to downtown and ensuring that new projects are compatible with their surrounding neighborhoods.

    The concerns with the Initial Study presented by the City of San José for the Tamien Place Development include not satisfactorily addressing the impact of the residential buildings after construction is completed and the buildings are occupied. There is much discussion of "less than significant" impact and mitigations that will be taken during construction of the project. The question remains how the significant impact of this project will be mitigated after the buildings are occupied. Specific concerns with the Initial Study are as follows (source: The Initial Study for the Tamien Place Development):

  5. There will be significant "impact on scenic vista or the visual character or quality of site." We are concerned that the neighbors have not been/will not be consulted regarding the design and size of this project. The study fails to take into consideration that the introduction of buildings taller than those in the surrounding neighborhood will contribute to the substantial degradation of the visual character or quality of the surrounding neighborhood. (p.13)
  6. There will be substantial exposure of pollution, especially to "sensitive receptors." We are concerned with "exhaust emissions and construction materials that will evaporate into the atmosphere and will participate in the photochemical reaction that creates urban ozone." There is concern with particularly "sensitive receptors" nearby, namely children and elderly. We object to the idea that developers are not accountable for "regional pollutants" being released since these are defined as being "uniform over a whole area and not restricted to one source." (p.15-17)
  7. There will be potentially significant impact to the Guadalupe River that is not addressed in this report, which makes the questionable statement that "there are no streams, creeks or waterways adjacent to the project site." We contend that the project is near enough to the river to have an impact on it. (p.20)
  8. We oppose the use of hazardous materials near the watershed of the Guadalupe River, located on the other side of the freeway from the proposed project. (p.29)
  9. We are concerned that "increases in vehicle use and human activity will increase the amount of pollution carried by runoff" into the Guadalupe River. (p.34)
  10. We object to the fact that this "proposed project will result in the loss of 22 trees," "that at least one ordinance-size street tree will be removed by the proposed project," and that the majority of the removed trees will not be replaced as only "ordinance size trees" are required to be replaced at a four to one ratio. (p.20-21)
  11. The Initial Study indicates that the project will pose no significant impact in the exposure of "people or structures to risk of loss, injury, or death involving flooding." We contend that there may be a significant impact to the residents of this project, as the site is in a flood zone. How will the developer work with the City’s flood control project in the short-term? (p. 33)
  12. Noise barriers proposed for the construction are insufficient, as 8-foot-high noise barriers will not mitigate the impact of construction noise above the lower floors of the building, resulting in the noise carrying out over all of Willow Glen and surrounding areas. Further Point #5 listed under "Mitigation and Avoidance" is an illogical statement. The mitigation is to stage equipment no closer than 200 feet to the nearest residence. Since the proposed property is no greater than 150 feet deep, there is no way to avoid staging of construction equipment more than 200 feet from the nearest residence. (p.56)
  13. Impact of population growth is insufficiently addressed by the Initial Study, as it states that the project "will not induce significant job growth or population growth." How can this be since the project will introduce potentially 500-1,000 additional people? (p.58)
  14. The study insufficiently addresses the increased demand put on resources including schools, parks, police and fire protection, and the additional residents and vehicles will affect the "service ratios, response times or other service objectives" of these entities. (p.60)
  15. Regarding the impact of increased traffic, the 2003 Initial Study does not adequately address all impacted intersections. The study done originally in 1995 addresses 34 intersections from Hwy 280 to Tully and Meridian Ave. to 10th Street. The 2003 version addresses only 8 intersections.
  16. For the number of units proposed (260), there will be insufficient off-street-parking (392) provided to residents, forcing them to park on existing neighborhood streets. Providing 1.5 spaces per 1-bedroom unit, 1.8/2-bdrm and 2 per 3-bdrm, especially since the target market for these units are adults without children, is insufficient. If the developer only has space enough for 392 off-street parking spaces, then the number of units should be 100-150, or a density of 30-45 DU/AC instead of the proposed 80 DU/AC. (p.73)
  17. The Initial Study does not address the fact that since there is no mixed use proposed for this project, nearby shopping centers will be overwhelmed and residents of this project will get in their cars to get to them, defeating the purpose of the transit corridor housing, as originally defined in the Tamien Station General Plan.
  18. Since the project has received a 10% reduction in required parking because of the proximity of the Tamien mass transit station, it is clear that one of the primary reasons for the project is to increase ridership for the Light Rail and CalTrain systems. Ridership is low not because people don’t live close enough to it (since existing residents in this area live close to it now), but because it simply does not work well in a sprawling, suburban area where people live, work and conduct their daily business in disperse locations (an argument for mixed use). Building high-density projects alone will not increase ridership (you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink). Decreasing the time intervals between trains has worked to increase ridership in the past, and is a measure that needs to be taken again to increase ridership. Also, the fact that CalTrain does not run on weekends or holidays does not help.
  19. This project does not support the City’s goal of providing recreation and parks within reasonable walking distance of residences. The City requires 3.5 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents, which amounts to 4.3 acres for this project with its proposed density. This acreage has since been reduced to 2.2. Where is the extra funding going?

The significant impact that we see with this project includes:

  1. Willow Glen and other surrounding areas will lose historical, architectural and small-town qualities and appeal.
  2. This project will set a negative trend by defining development standards that are unacceptable for Willow Glen and surrounding areas.
  3. Ecological and environmental impact on existing open spaces and creek, increased litter and graffiti, increase in poor air quality, noise levels, traffic (with inherent increased danger to bicyclists, children and other pedestrians), and increased classroom size in our schools.
  4. Increased traffic on Hwy 87 and neighborhood streets (specifically Bird, Willow, Minnesota and Virginia) will result in unacceptable congestion that may require streets being widened, additional traffic lights and increased law enforcement.

Our conclusion is that the proposed project, and the amendments made to allow this project and others like it, do not adequately address the needs of, are detrimental to, and run counter to the well-being and preservation of the environment and the community of Willow Glen and surrounding areas.

Our proposal is that any buildings do not exceed 3 floors, are of mixed-use (residential, retail and parks/recreation) with mature trees and landscaping, have a suitable setback from the street (15 ft) and are of low-density (25-55 DU/AC). The preferred style is of wood clapboard siding rather than the more common stucco facing.

Sincerely, the undersigned residents of San José

(list of signed names begins. Now well over 200 names! Contact us to add your name to the list.)




Protest of the Proposed Tamien Place development

(Alma Bowl / Sprig Electric sites)

by Harvey Darnell, Alison England, Ken Eklund, et al.

with the participation of Tom Smith, Helen Solinski, et al.

This document accompanies the document by Susan Kusters et al.

July 23, 2003


To: City Planning
Cc: City Council

This letter expresses our opposition to the Tamien Place ("Alma Bowl") development as proposed by Barry Swenson developers, File #PDC 02-072, including General Plan Amendments GP01-T-08 (pertaining to the Alma Bowl/Sprig Electric site to increase maximum building height from 65 to 120 feet), GP03-03-03 (pertaining to the Alma Bowl/Sprig Electric site to change from mixed use to purely residential (25-150 dwelling units/acre), GP01-03-07 (pertaining to Alma Bowl/Sprig Electric site to change from mixed use (25-65 DU/AC) to mixed use (25-150 DU/AC), resulting in increased density, and GPT03-03-03 (pertaining to reducing minimum setback of the Alma Bowl/Sprig Electric site along Lick Ave. from 15 to 10 feet). As a related issue, we also oppose the General Plan Amendment GP01-T-06 (pertaining to the Elks Club Site to increase maximum building height from 65 to 120 feet).

We have reviewed the project's Initial Study. Our opposition springs from that review and from significant flaws, shortcomings and oversights in the project's analyses and procedure.



The community’s development vision was expressed in the original 1995 Tamien Station Area Specific Plan after numerous community-wide meetings involving residents of all 3 council districts. It has now been put aside, with no participation opportunity extended to much of the community invested in the original plan, and over the opposition of most of the neighborhoods that were consulted. The original "transit-oriented development" mandate of the plan has been reduced to mere high-density residential development.


The original community vision for the Tamien area was expressed in the adapted 1995 Tamien Station Area Specific Plan and required "pedestrian friendly" community, mixed use, and retail facilities to make Tamien a viable "transit village " community. These facilities do not exist and due to the current local / state budget crisis and area business downturn probably will not exist for at least 3-5 or more years and possibly longer. The concept that developer fees will enable the community to obtain these community facilities, often expressed by proposal supporters, is after a closer examination false and misleading to the community residents.

The Tamien Station Area Specific Plan Task Force held numerous community-wide meetings and involved local residents and area neighborhood associations in developing a community supported comprehensive balanced area development plan over 14 months in 1993-4. The community discussed, developed, and recommended the original plan that was adapted by the City Council in January 1995 as part of the San Jose 2020 General Plan.

The original 1995 community developed Tamien Station Area Specific Plan specified 65 foot high density medium-rise residential buildings as appropriate for the Tamien Station sub core area and extensively discussed the lack of and immediate need for community facilities (parks, schools, retail, community pool and a community center). These facilities have not been added to the Tamien area since 1994, even though the city has had funds to build similar facilities in other parts of the city in the last 10 years. The Tamien Specific Plan's purpose was described as "to encourage transit-oriented development in the area" as recently as last year in planning documents.

The new community facilities were considered by the community and the task force as an essential part of the 1995 original specific plan to make any high density development "pedestrian friendly" and a positive contribution to the existing low-rise residential community and transit riders.

Taller buildings were discussed by the task force and the community but turned down as inappropriate for the low-rise mixed-use area at that time. Since no supporting community facilities have been built, the majority of the community believe taller buildings are still inappropriate. The original area plan should hold sway until a community-wide discussion is conducted as to when high-rises would be appropriate, how to properly integrate them into a low-rise residential area, how to ensure mixed use in the area to support the community and transit, and how actual construction of significant community facilities to ameliorate the population impact of medium- or high-density development should occur in concurrent manner with the development projects.

The Washington — Willow Glen community in 1993-94 came to agreement on a community development vision for the Tamien area and again in 1998 the community came together and supported a change to the original plan when a new elementary school was proposed for the VTA property on Lick Avenue. Washington district neighborhood associations and the Willow Glen Neighborhood Association wrote letters of support and area residents testified in support of the proposed school.


The August 2001 change in Tamien Station heights from 65 feet medium-rise high density mixed-use buildings to 120 feet high-rise high density residential buildings was opposed by community residents and neighborhood associations and imposed on us without asking us or discussing the height, density and land use changes with us.

The " piecemeal " nature of the proposed changes since 2001 to the community-developed original 1995 Tamien plan and the lack of area-wide community notice, discussion, and support of the proposed changes with all community residents and neighborhood associations is unacceptable to the community. This issue has been discussed in letters in August 2001 and again in April 2003 to the city council.

Five (5) area neighborhood associations presented their objections to the City Council on April 15, 2003, concerning the lack of community notification and discussion as well as the inappropriateness of the 120 building heights for the Tamien station sub core area and the continuing lack of community facilities. We expressed community support for high-density medium-rise 65-foot buildings (6 story buildings almost twice the height of surrounding buildings) if community facilities were built before or at the same time as the developments.

Based on the two most recent community meetings (at Tamien Child Care Center and Galarza School, respectively), the Washington — Willow Glen community residents discussing the Tamien Place development continue to support the 65 foot high density residential medium-rise buildings as the most appropriate for the existing low-rise Tamien area, and to reject the Tamien Place proposal.


"Encouraging transit-oriented development in the area" was the entire purpose for the Tamien Specific Plan. The proposed development does not acknowledge the existence of transit nearby, nor does it promote, aid or participate in planning for a transit village or other transit-oriented development at Tamien. It made no outreach to the people who use the Tamien Station, nor to potential users (the people in the Tamien Station service area). Instead, it sets the stage for "transit-oriented" development to be the same as "high-density" development in transit development zones. The community wanted a more visionary plan for Tamien in 1994, and with traffic being the top quality-of-life issue for most people in this city, it's needed even more badly now.



Failure to provide a public task force to oversee the substantial changes to the Tamien Specific Plan has created the opportunity for developers to subvert its tenets.

The Tamien Place proposed residential development is part of the Tamien Station Area and therefore its characteristics must be consistent with the parameters laid out in the Tamien Station Area General Plan. Since the Tamien Station Area General Plan was completed and approved in 1995, the San Jose city council has approved several changes to the General Plan. These changes created opportunities for future developments to be created in such a way that, while possibly permissible based on current rules, they grossly violate the vision created and approved in the original area-wide plan.

City Council and developers do not have the right go outside the collaborative effort that was agreed upon in creating the General Plan. The same or a similar panel of individuals equally knowledgeable as the original should be involved in any changes to a plan created in this way. Otherwise, the concept of soliciting input from a public panel, approving their conclusions as policy, only to change parameters based on input from another source without that panel’s consent, raises serious ethical and legal issues and shatters city-community trust.

While the question of adequate notification and neighborhood involvement has been raised concerning the Tamien Place Residential Development (as well as current and future proposed adjacent developments), the more specific problem is the lack of follow-along involvement by an active public task force. Since the city determined to use a task force to create policy and vision for the Tamien Station Area, the city also had the responsibility of involving a continuation of that group in the proposed changes as well as the implementation phase.

There have also been reactions from the city that imply that there is no realistic or fair (to the developers) way to globally examine the impacts of all the proposed developments within the Tamien Station Area. This is a direct contradiction of the purpose and procedures set forth in the Tamien Station General Plan.




The proposed development is grossly incompatible with its setting, and may be grossly incompatible with the current vision of the city in general. As it contains the first proposed high-rises outside of downtown, it needs to be deferred until citywide policy is clear on whether high-rises are acceptable to the public outside of downtown, and if they are, what criteria are used to determine where they may and may not go.

While increases in housing density are necessary and acknowledged, the proposed maximum height of 120 feet is not necessary and creates a number of problems.

The development trend in the area and outlying areas has been three to four stories for multifamily units. Given that ceiling heights can vary, even some four-story developments going up in other areas seem inappropriately tall to fit in with the structures in the Tamien area neighborhoods. In bowing to the obvious need for density, while trying to reach a compromise on appropriate architecture, it seems that six stories is an ideal compromise.

Six-story development will not invade significantly into either the skyline or airspace, mitigating the major issues of invasion of privacy and light-deprivation for surrounding homes, concerns about air-traffic accidents, and damage to the skyline/view of the surrounding neighborhoods. This last point has considerable neighborhood goodwill and political ramifications, as invasion of a critical skyline cannot be erased nor is it forgotten. Sample polling of citizens throughout the city of San Jose, and especially those who enjoy visiting the adjacent areas, indicates they are appalled at the proposal of towers of this height occurring south of 280 in general, but in the proposed area specifically. All agree that the builders and political supporters of such a "significant feature" will be very unpopular and be remembered for many years in the future.

The issue of allowing high-rises outside of downtown in San Jose has not received a public hearing. The possibility of such development became widely known only this month. Consideration of approval for the project at Alma Bowl should be deferred until public discussion on this citywide issue is allowed to occur, and should only proceed if the Tamien area is specifically approved for high-rises.

Councilman Ken Yeager has called for such a public debate on the high-rise issue. He has also released a letter describing his position on the creation of tall buildings outside of the downtown core area. It has been suggested that this is a statement of policy that is in direct opposition to the city’s general plan, and he stands to be corrected. In reality, Ken Yeager has published a stand that represents the wishes of his constituents, which is part of his job as a councilmember, and called for a public referendum on a General Plan issue that has not been widely known about or understood. It seems odd to have to remind elected officials that their sole task is not just to convince each other to agree. If the public needs to be heard on an issue, they should be represented honestly by their council members, and given an opportunity to speak. Councilman Yeager does not just speak for himself in this matter, but also on behalf of his district.


There is community support for high-density medium-rise 65-foot building heights for Alma Bowl development (6 story) but not the 12O-foot building heights proposed for Tamien Place. In any case, high-density residential projects must be accompanied by actual construction of significant community facilities to mitigate the heavy impacts of population gain - and there is no mitigating community facility either planned or likely to occur in the Tamien neighborhood.

The community supports the 45-foot height of the town homes on the front of the site, the private park / recreation area and would support high density medium-rise 65 foot buildings for the rear of the site if the recommended community facilities and "pedestrian friendly" support facilities are built before or at the time of development.

There is considerable community opposition from all the residents and most of the leadership of the Washington — Willow Glen neighborhood associations to the proposed high density high-rise twin (2) 120 foot height buildings on the rear of the Tamien Place (Alma Bowl / Sprig Electric) site and very little community support. The few who support the proposed project mostly do so since they incorrectly believe that supporting the high-rise project will result in a park. (We will show later that this is not possible with the potential park impact fees available, and not likely given the heavy logistical burden of the concept.)

Claims that may be made about community support for the proposed project will need to be examined. There is evidence that community meetings were poorly noticed, perhaps resulting in very low attendance. There is evidence that resident questions and concerns expressed at these meetings were not adequately answered, and that "decision quality" was low as a result.

Inquiries as to how many people participated in the meetings have not been answered, and to date the meeting minutes and attendance sheets, although requested, have not been made available. It is known that community meetings were held in the developer's trailer on the Tamien parking lot, a structure that would have trouble accommodating a dozen people comfortably.

(This writer can testify that, although he called the district office and asked to be notified of the next community meeting, he was never contacted. The district office acknowledged getting his call, and perhaps many others besides, and not acting on them. No reason was given.)

Likewise, claims that may be made about community support for Plan changes to the Tamien Specific Plan, such as the change allowing mixed use to become residential only. Since these decisions are key to claims of community support for the project, they need to be examined before the project can be approved for the community.

Whatever happened in these community meetings, the leadership in the Tamien, Goodyear-Mastic and Alma neighborhoods, as well as the Willow Glen, North Willow Glen and Gardner neighborhoods, have expressed their opposition to the project and dismay at the way its outreach efforts have been conducted, and so do their constituents. Neighborhoods in District 6 were not notified of community meetings; they found out through connections with District 3 neighborhoods. The developer never held a meeting with the Willow Glen or North Willow Glen neighborhoods; they attended one organized by the neighborhoods less than a week before the scheduled Public Hearing for the project.

The developer only gave formal legal notice to residents within 1000 feet of the development. While this is the city’s outreach policy, it does not provide for adequate notification to the community impacted by a project of this scale and is not acceptable to the community or consistent with the mandate for community-wide involvement made when the original Specific Plan was discussed and approved by neighborhoods. This too is in direct contradiction to the policies and procedures set out in the Tamien Specific Plan regarding community involvement, and subverts citizen faith in the City's planning process. It also is in contradiction to the city's Strong Neighborhoods Initiative, which emphasizes neighborhood involvement and cooperation; the Tamien Place proposal falls within a SNI area, and impacts several others.



The proposed project does not integrate into the existing Tamien Area community. The original 1995 Tamien Station Specific Plan discussed the community’s concerns that the new development be appropriate and fit into the existing residential / mixed neighborhoods. This critical concern also seems to have been set aside with the other elements of the community-approved Plan, and conflicts and lack of community cohesion will result.

As currently designed, the towers of Tamien Place will be the home of persons separated quite literally from the rest of the Tamien community. The complex is isolated by buildings, changes in elevation, landscaping and actual walls.

The open space and green area of the project in no way benefit the community at large; they cannot even be seen except by project residents.

The massive scale of the towers will also serve to isolate its residents from the community around them. (To illustrate by example: People who live in a single-family home can talk about lawns with people who live in condos, but neither has much in common, lifestyle-wise, with someone who lives on the 10th floor.)

Urban planners have learned in the last 30 years that building a series of isolated complexes does not lead to a successful city. Try walking through some older sections of San Francisco or a European city if you want to see high density integrated into the community. If the Mayor and City Council truly wants to make San Jose a great city, this is not the way to do it!



The lack of integration into neighborhood is typical for many developments proposed in San Jose, there is no attempt in the development plans to relate to the surroundings, either functionally or aesthetically.


The community has problems with the aesthetics of high-density high-rise building plans presented by the developer. The units of the project do not work together aesthetically, and the units do not work with other buildings in the neighborhood.

The towers do not fit within the design of the complex as a whole. The towers and townhouses have no relation to each other aesthetically, in use of materials, or in any other way. The towers look like something from the 60s, except with a gabled rather than flat roof. The townhouses gesture at being pseudo Victorians, but "stucco Victorians" would make the aesthetic appearance of the development even worse. Their cookie-cutter row house appearance is not matched in the neighborhood, which features Mission, Craftsmen, Mediterranean, Spanish and "modern" styles in addition to Victorian.


A map of the entire specific plan area, with an indication of this development and its relationship with the rest of the area, must be presented so that people can evaluate how it will integrate with the area plan as a whole. This map would show the Elks Club development, the VTA station site, the child care facility, and other facilities discussed for the area. No such map has been presented; instead, residents are asked to accept a piecemeal approach to the Tamien area development.

Planning should not approve, and the community should not be asked to accept, a project that is not part of a coherent, approved plan.

If commercial development is supposed to be located at the station site, it must be shown how the subject development would function (or not) in relation to it. How would residents run down to the "corner" store to avoid jumping in their car to get to the supermarket on Bird?

The Alma Bowl site may be the only suitable location for desirable commercial uses such as a grocery, and thus approval of the Tamien Place project as currently designed would preclude these uses for existing residents, new residents, and transit riders - increasing the traffic burden of ALL development in the Tamien Specific Plan area for all neighborhoods in the area.




Aesthetics of the area surrounding the proposed project are described as a "highly urbanized setting." This is simply not the case. While there is a concentration of multi-level, multi-family structures around the site, these are buildings that do not stand out among the single-family housing stock in the vicinity. The structures still maintain a "street level" quality that cannot be described as "highly urbanized." To use this description to then claim that the "new high-density residential development … would not result in a significant adverse aesthetic impact" is entirely inaccurate; thus, the conclusion that the project would "less than significantly degrade the existing character of quality of the site and its surroundings" is incorrect.


The proposed 45 foot tall townhouse buildings are being characterized as providing "a gradual change in scale between the existing multi-family residential buildings…and the proposed condominium towers." There is no visual buffering effect provided by placing objects of approximately one-third the height along one side of the twin 120-foot buildings. From all perspectives except that when standing directly in front of the townhouses, the proposed townhouses at the front of the property will be equally dwarfed by the towers, along with the other existing buildings in the area. The majority of viewers will experience the towers from Highway 87, from Lelong Avenue, from Minnesota Avenue and Alma Avenue, where no buffering of scale occurs. The twin massive high-rises will simply tower over and out-mass everything in their vicinity.


Previously, the nature of development in the surrounding area has been creation of medium-density dwelling infill. No projects have exceeded the three (3) and four (4) level construction pattern. To claim that eleven (11) story towers "would not be inconsistent with the existing pattern of urban development in the area" is extremely inaccurate. In fact, there is no "existing pattern of urban development" consistent with the proposed height and density in any neighborhood in San Jose, or anywhere in the city of San Jose, outside of the downtown core.



The Initial Study asserts no adverse aesthetic impact, but offers no means by which a person can evaluate this assertion. The vast majority of citizens will see the twin towers as they pass by on Highway 87. Another set of citizens will experience them from transit trains and the station. The majority of citizens in the area will see them over the open space on Lelong and Minnesota, from the Tamien parking lots, or as they approach on Alma and Lick. No visual simulations that would actually show how the project would appear from these perspectives have been prepared. Photo-realistic visual simulations of the projects from at least the viewpoints mentioned should be prepared, disseminated to the citizens impacted, and comments recorded before a declaration of aesthetic impact can be legitimately made, and before the developer can be released from the obligation to mitigate such impacts. This is especially critical on this project, given its dominating scale and the potential for a significant negative aesthetic impact that would remain visible and obvious for the lifetimes of the citizens affected.




The description of the roadway network includes the presence of I-280. Access points are described as "Bird Avenue and Seventh Street," yet the streets likely to be used to access these points are neither included in the discussion or the study. According to the Trip Distribution map fifteen percent of the projected 1774 daily trips will take place on I-280. This is a total of 266 trips that cannot access I-280 by streets wider than two lanes, thus creating volume over the 10 trip per lane threshold that should require traffic study and any necessary mitigation.

The roadway network includes Highway 87, but only trip assignments heading northbound on 87 (and return trips coming southbound) can be accommodated by the highway on-ramps and off-ramps at Lelong. Trips heading southbound on 87 need to traverse residential streets, most likely to the on-ramp and off-ramp at Auzerais. Since southern destinations such as Coyote Valley are planned to add a significant number of new jobs, the trip assignments must be restudied to take the demand for southbound 87 commuters into account.


A "trip assignment" proposes that "fewer than six trips per lane would travel through the intersections of Bird Avenue/Willow Street and Bird Avenue/Minnesota Avenue during the AM and PM peak periods." This characterization is apparently supposed to account for a lack of traffic study at these intersections. However, given that each intersection is four lanes plus six turn lanes at Willow and four turn lanes at Minnesota, if "fewer than six" is assumed to be five, this totals ninety vehicles. These cars will be then turning onto Bird Ave., a two lane road, already heavily used for neighborhood ingress and egress, and which is already subject to speeding and traffic delay problems. This volume exceeds the 10 trip per lane threshold that should require an analysis of this situation and propose the resulting mitigation efforts.


The traffic studies do not address the project's impact on the busing of the area's schoolchildren. Approximately 840 area children are bused to school out of the area, and the buses require the use of Lick Avenue and the Tamien Station loop road as a staging area.

The project's construction plan should also address the presence of buses and schoolchildren.


The traffic studies measure current traffic. Due to the current state of the local economy, current traffic is well below the normal traffic experienced during the normal economy. The traffic studies should use historic traffic data (over the past 5 years) to normalize the traffic volumes to better reflect the actual traffic situation when the project is complete.


The methodology used in the traffic study uses wait times at signalized intersections as the barometer of traffic pain. But contemporary traffic analysis (and neighborhood experience in the area) confirm that a significant number of drivers no longer wait at intersections - they turn onto residential streets instead. These cut-through drivers, motivated to save time, pose a hazard to residents, children and pets in particular, and cost the City in measures designed to calm traffic. Their numbers and impact can be proven by City studies on traffic calming.

Cut-through drivers render the wait-time methodology meaningless, since they are invisible to traffic observers watching signalized intersections. Although they are invisible, however, a relatively small number of them can inflict significant pain to area residents. Since the Alma Bowl project is set within a traffic grid dominated by two-lane streets with cut-through opportunities, the methodology must be changed to account for contemporary traffic patterns if we are to get a true picture of the project's traffic burden.


The methodology used to calculate traffic burdens should take freeway congestion into account. Trip assignments for overburdened freeways (or freeways that can reach the overburden tipping point) should take into account that drivers will leave these car lines and seek alternative routes, because they surely will. This is of particular concern for this project, which has only one freeway access, to northbound Highway 87. Using the current methodology, the traffic impact of drivers who approach the on-ramp at Lelong and find it congested, and then divert to alternative routes down Willow or Minnesota or other residential streets, are not considered.


Vine and Almaden are currently one-way streets, so the studies at their signalized intersections reflect that efficiency of flow. They are slated to revert soon to two-way status (as part of the neighborhood's demand for more pedestrian-friendly streets). This will change the wait time characteristics entirely. Since these are signalized intersections within the traffic impact of the project, the current traffic study of these streets is inaccurate data, and new studies must be done or the data recalculated to reflect the real impacts the project would have. Since the intersection at Alma/Almaden is already the highest-burdened intersection studied, this inaccuracy is particularly important to address.


The Tamien Area Specific Plan discusses the corporate development of many specific sites, including the Santa Clara County Transportation Agency (VTA) Site, Alma Bowl / Sprig Electric Site, Italian Gardens, Elks Club, Smith / Cristina Properties, North Side of Alma Ave., and South of Alma Ave., east of Almaden Rd. It also reflects the numbers of residential units pre-existing before the Tamien Specific Plan, number of units allowed and permitted since the Tamien Plan, and number of units proposed and not yet approved.

457 residential units were pre-existing, 599 units have been approved or built, leaving 626 units "remaining to be built to meet the 1,225 new-units target." This is the level of housing infill that was taken into consideration at the time the Initial study was conducted. Currently proposed are the 242 units at the Alma Bowl/Sprig Electric Site, up to 350 units at the VTA site, up to 10 units at Pepitone, up to 523 units at the Elks Club property, and additional 50 units at miscellaneous sites throughout the area. This amounts to 1175 units yet to be built; this is nearly double the additional housing expected at the time of the initial environmental impact study.

It is entirely incorrect to claim that this project does not "have impacts that are individually limited, but cumulatively considerable…meaning that the incremental effects of a project are considerable when viewed in connection with the effects of past projects, the effects of other current projects, and the effects of probable future projects." The fact that this development reflects the doubling in density of the proposed housing infill since the initial study was conducted should absolutely flag the need for a new environmental impact study given the currently proposed level of development.



The initial study "no significant impact" finding seems to be based on the existing industrial use of the site. There is no attempt to look at the actual impact of the 11-story structures on the fabric of our neighborhoods and its effect on its future direction as an urban community. By finding this subjective factor as "not significant" or "no impact" they are not required to examine possible mitigations, such as changes to the developer's high-rise plans.

A private walled-off community has a significant adverse land use on the community on the surrounding community

The community does not see how the precedent of a high density high-rise community effectively walled off from the surrounding neighborhood cannot be found to have a significant adverse land use impact. The construction of a series of isolated communities separated from the existing residents is not a formula for a successful San Jose housing development city.



Noise issues have been only partially addressed in the initial study and are of concern to the community especially the well-documented potential of the bounce effect of Highway 87 noise into adjacent neighborhoods.


"The noise environment at the project site results from the Southern Pacific railway line which currently carries eight commuter trains and between two and eight freight trains per day, vehicular traffic on Alma and Lick Avenues, and aircraft approaching the (sic) San Jose International Airport." This is the statement used to define the sources of noise at the site. Somehow, the presence of the extremely busy and noisy Hwy. 87 seems to have escaped observation. Table 1 even takes into account bus noise on Alma Ave., and jet flyover events at the "approximate building setback" with no mention of cars.


In a memo summarizing the results of the site noise analysis, several observations and recommendations are made concerning the marketability of the project: "Some municipalities employ an outdoor-to-indoor noise intrusion standard of Lmax 50dBA in bedrooms and Lmax 55dBA in other habitable spaces, such as living rooms. Meeting this standard would virtually eliminate bedrooms with windows along the west façade of the buildings." Figure 6 currently depicts the west faces of the structures as containing many windows and balconies. If the windows and balconies go in as shown, the interior units will most probably experience higher than desirable noise levels, and the balconies will be unusable for anything but storage, bringing on a blight issue.

If, on the other hand, the windows and balconies are not installed, the western façade of the buildings will be without feature. Since the western façades will be especially visible to drivers on Highway 87, transit users, and residents throughout a historically sensitive housing area, this serious detriment to their aesthetics would present a serious visual detriment to the city.


Since, at 120 feet, the proposed height of the towers is far above the level of the adjacent Highway 85, there will be the effect of train and traffic noise bouncing off the towers into the neighborhoods to the west of the project (an effect well documented in studies done concerning sound walls and other such sound mitigation devices.) There are no studies examining this effect, nor is there an area identified (as in the shadow study) which will experience elevated sound levels as a result of rebounding noise. The effect of sound reflecting off the building slab sides down into surrounding neighborhoods to the east, south and north, as well as the project's courtyard, also needs to be addressed.


In a memo concerning the noise study for exterior conditions (specifically the residential-use courtyard) several observations and recommendations are made. "The building and parking garage will provide substantial shielding from Highway and train noise. We anticipate that the outdoor noise level at ground level in the courtyard will be a DNL of approximately 60 dB, provided that the garage is constructed in such a way as to form a solid noise barrier between the outdoor use area and the highway." Currently, the proposed garage is underground, and an eight-foot sound wall has been put in its place. There is no comment on whether this is an adequate sound mitigation effort or not. There is no comment on sound levels or mitigation efforts concerning the proposed townhouses.


A continuous series of townhouse structures rather than a wall and two towers along the west side of the project may be more effective in reducing the noise levels elsewhere in the development. The townhouse structures along this west side should have their outdoor spaces, like balconies, facing east with the rest of the structure acting as a sound barrier to the interior of the development. Townhouse garages could be accessible from the west side of the site.


School District impacts which are supposed to be taken care of by the state imposed developer impact fees results in potential negative impact on the community.

The community has concerns about the impact on schools and child safety to and from schools especially by young children or the additional traffic created by parents driving their children the 10-12 blocks to school. We're already concerned about the school situation, and have heard from a member of the school board already. Studies need to show the actual impacts and how much additional costs to the school district are not covered by the state school impact fees.



The project will violate community privacy and shade issues, as specified in the community-approved Specific Plan

In the Tamien Area Specific Plan, privacy issues are defined as follows: "Structures taller than 30 feet should be designed to avoid significant privacy and shade impacts on adjacent single-family or duplex neighborhoods. No windows in these taller structures should have a direct line of sight into any single-family or duplex rear yard." The towers in this proposed development are an obvious privacy invasion of just about anything around them, and especially the townhouses that are part of the development.

The shadow study indicates a huge invasion into the surrounding neighborhood, as well as the Tamien Child Care Center and the other future land uses north of the towers, which is somehow dismissed as insignificant. As the first high-rises outside of downtown, this project needs to show a realistic concern for right-to-light issues.


Fire protection issues have been inadequately addressed, especially fire equipment access to the train/freeway side of the site

Fire safety is inadequately addressed, neglecting issues such as the single entrance to the site, the extreme height of the buildings, and the reduced accessibility by fire-fighting units due to the narrow streets and height-limiting highway overpass over Alma to the immediate west.

The community would like additional information on how these issues were mitigated since in the initial review by the San Jose Fire Department there were significant concerns and deficiencies mentioned about the development.



The close proximity of the project to the train system and highway presents the issue of constant exposure to higher than typical levels of pollution, including particulate matter (sooty debris) and fumes. This issue is not addressed concerning the effects this will have on the living conditions at the site as well as the increased maintenance and degradation that will likely result. This is a well observed phenomenon in areas adjacent to rail lines and highways, and should not be dismissed as having no impact on the marketability, physical condition of the structures and amenities, and health of future residents of the project.

There is no explanation of solid waste disposal. What is the procedure for collecting and eliminating household waste from a large tower? If there are dumpsters that will contain wet garbage, where will they be located and how will they be regulated so as not to create odor and vector issues?



Although the Initial study recognizes the provision of additional housing consistent with the General Plan, it does not discuss the affordability of that housing to the majority of the existing community that cannot afford to buy a place to live in San Jose. $325 - $550,000 is not exactly affordable for many in this population, especially when it is estimated that the lower price is for one bedroom units, hardly helpful to the families with children desperate for a place to

live. Housing for people with lower incomes is a special priority of the neighborhood in which the project is set, as expressed in the Tamien Specific Plan.




Concerning both the specific Tamien Place development and the General Plan


There is no evidence that a Community Benefits Agreement was offered to the neighborhoods. This is a critical process that should have taken place involving the affected communities. Since no Community Benefits Assessment seems to have been done either, the developer and the city have created a blind spot when it comes to providing the necessary amenities for the increased population.

The Tamien area is seriously lacking in basic services such as grocers, restaurants, gas stations, laundromats, office supplies, and leisure activities. If the mixed-use designation of future building is not created, and created wisely, this burden will fall to the neighboring areas, accessible only by neighborhood streets.

A Community Benefits Plan must be created for this area before any further development is undertaken.



Lack of any district parks as recommended and required to make Tamien area a "pedestrian friendly" community; diversion of prior park impact funds outside of the Tamien area; the intended use of the park impact fees.

The Tamien General area has been undergoing housing infill for some time. 566 dwelling units were in place before 1995. 599 multi family dwelling units have been built or approved since that time. The city policy that states that 3.5 acres of park per 1,000 residents also states that this may come about either by requiring developers to donate park space in conjunction with their projects or pay into a Parks and Recreation Fund to provide for the acquisition and development of the complying park acreage. Presumably money has been collected toward providing the required park facilities. What is the status of these funds?

The proposed Tamien Place Residential Development will be introducing a projected 1225 new residents to the area. This alone equates to 4.3 acres of park. Four acres of park are called for in the Tamien Station Area Specific Plan to accompany both the Alma Bowl site development and the development of the VTA site. The negative declaration states clearly that "the proposed project does not propose the construction of a new park." While the developer will pay the appropriate funds toward future park creation, neither the city nor the developer is taking responsibility for creating the required park.

Given that the projected infill density yet to be developed is double that predicted in 1995 when the park acreage requirement was 10 acres, where is the additional park acreage going to be provided?

Since housing development has been ongoing since before 1995 without park development, need for creation of recreational space has become critical and should not be delayed any longer. Along with the four acre site at the Alma Bowl/VTA sites, identification, acquisition and development of additional park land (including the 2-plus acres deeded to the city for parks at the Almaden Rd. site currently occupied by a Bingo parlor) must begin before approval of additional proposed housing to avoid additional overburdening of the area, and to provide much needed good will among current and future residents.



Additional TRAFFIC STUDY / MITIGATION is needed prior to and 6 months full building occupation to obtain real traffic impacts.

The community believes that the developer must provide additional traffic intersection studies for at least 8 additional intersections, as well as a follow-up six-month study for the following areas: Along the lengths and all intersections of Alma/Minnesota and Willow, from Almaden Road to Meridian Avenue, and the length and intersections along Bird Ave. from Minnesota to Auzerais, and the length and intersections of Virginia from Hester to Bird Avenue — including traffic impacts on Gardner Academy Elementary School, pedestrian safety issues near the Gardner Community Center site, and cut-through issues at appropriate locations.

San Jose traffic measurement policies and procedures do not measure actual traffic congestion above level D or E since in drivers in the Washington Willow are residential neighborhoods will routinely take residential side streets to avoid traffic backup at known residential traffic choke points like Bird Avenue between Minnesota and Willow / Willow and Fisk since Bird is 1 lane in each direction for these blocks. They will drive by residential streets over to Virginia and go out of Bird bypassing the known Bird Avenue intersection backups.

An additional traffic issue is that the current traffic studies are unrepresentative of normal traffic for the area since there has been over 200,000 layoffs in Santa Clara County due to the Santa Clara business turndowns. Therefore community traffic is significantly less than average and dramatically less than 2-3 years ago, when area traffic congestion for many hours exceeded the San Jose (LOS) Level of Service standard "D".

Residential side streets during the past economic boom had hundreds of vehicles cutting through the neighborhood to go around busy traffic intersections thus the traffic impact studies do not show true traffic impact on neighborhood areas like the Washington — Willow Glen community since once the traffic backs up people bypass the traffic by going through neighborhood side streets which are unmeasured in the traffic analysis but measurable by area residents daily driving experience.

San Jose traffic studies and policies do not address, and the average resident does not understand that the current traffic policies and study procedures do not measure actual traffic impacts accurately in residential neighborhoods.

The current traffic policies and procedures do not take into consideration the freeways system and refer to freeways as 'regional' roads going from one city to another and the local cities have not demand the state make freeway improvements to mitigate local traffic problems.

Interstate 280 could be backed-up from San Francisco to San Jose and at a standstill and the current traffic policies wouldn't give it an A, B, C, D, E rating. They just ignore it. This is very frustrating to the average resident that sees the unaddressed traffic congestion problems daily from behind their steering wheel.

Many residents use local streets to bypass freeway traffic problems adding to local traffic congestion.

Highway 87 needs a third lane, not for car-poolers but for every day traffic and drivers get frustrated and use Meridian, Lincoln, Bird, which is destroying local street and creating neighborhoods with significant residential cut- through traffic. Also, just about every single car that leaves the "Communications Hill" new Specific Plan area is going to drive north to their jobs, attempt to use Highway 87, and give up and cut through residential neighborhoods. No one demands that they do any improvements to Highway 87, and yet the traffic is atrocious at the AM and PM peak hours. San Jose traffic policy, many believe, just ignores the freeways in these traffic studies and is a significant failure of existing traffic measurement policies and procedures current in use through San Jose resulting in additional negative traffic impacts on residents.

San Jose traffic studies never give the ABCDE ratings to freeways. They just blame it on CALTRANS, etc. The backup effect of metering lights is also ignored again in traffic studies understanding traffic impacts.

Most traffic studies only due at vehicle counts at SIGNALIZED intersections. They ignore stop signs (Lelong / Highway 87 On-Ramp), and they ignore residential street cut-through counts. So by just sticking to signalized intersections, these studies have understated traffic impacts and are very faulty.

The typical San Jose solution to a poor / saturated signalized intersection operation, rated at, let's say "E", whereby the policy is to not allow a greater than 1% increase in delay impacts/negative-operability,(which may get it closer to an "F" rating), is so sickening, and it is why you see nearly a traffic signal installed every week somewhere in town: Instead of having "too long of a wait" delay at the E intersection, what they do is put up another new signal in advance of the "bad" one so the general driving public now may have to stop twice, but maybe for a tad shorter time at each 'stop'. In other words, instead of having an E go to an F level (which is a 'no no') (LOS=Level of Service), they'll create two D's, and D's are ok! That's the escape!

A good recent example can be seen on Meridian where they recently installed a new signal at Curci. So the community residents get to put on our brakes more often–which is a very poor solution. Another example: The new signal at Parkmoor's terminus at Lincoln. What good is it? This town has gone 'signal happy'. Notice how every block in San Francisco has a signal -- that's where we're headed.

Fix all the E's and F's by creating double or triple the number of signals. The net result for the average driver is they stop at MORE signals and waste more time in their car, idling. Ten "E" intersections thus become twenty "D" intersections and the Policy is not violated. It's like a lawyer's loophole. But the net result for the driving public is that it just gets worse, and everyone says "They did follow the policy". The current city traffic policies are failures, as we experience this every day, as we drive.


The residential side street cut through traffic mentioned above by community drivers seeking to avoid congested intersections results in very negative and significant impacts on neighborhood child safety especially before or after schools when the children are going to or from schools or playing after school. It also takes its toll on pets and on the psyche of residents, who feel it is unpleasant/unsafe to venture into their own front yards.



Lick Ave and Lelong Street will need to be widened either now or planned for future widening to accommodate the future additional traffic. These improvements need to take place prior to building permits issued.

Lick Avenue should be widened to four (4) lanes to provide adequate egress at Alma to prevent back-ups forcing motorists onto neighborhood streets. Four (4) lanes would provide turning east and west from Lick onto Alma, and a central turn lane to allow turning across traffic without causing back-ups. This would also improve emergency vehicle access to the site.

Lelong Street should be widened to four lanes to accommodate traffic approaching the Highway 87 entrance, traffic coming from the Highway 87 exit, traffic entering and exiting the proposed VTA parking garage, and traffic turning right and left onto Alma Ave.



The Washington — Willow Glen Community Committee was formed to coordinate a thoughtful, well-researched and coordinated community approach to area planning issues by neighborhood leaders.

The Washington — Willow Glen Community Committee was formed as an informal community organization by leaders of the area’s neighborhood associations after being approached by one of the Washington district neighborhood associations, at a United Neighborhoods of Santa Clara County meeting to address the complex development issues of the Tamien sub core development area and the continuing lack of community facilities in the entire Tamien / Washington district to support high density development.

The Tamien area planning, development and coordination issues are extremely complex since the area has parts of 3 San Jose City Council Districts (Districts 3, 6 and 7); 2 Strong Neighborhood Initiative areas (Greater Gardner and Washington); 2 Neighborhood Business Districts (Lincoln Avenue Business District and Willow Street Business District); and 8 neighborhood associations.

The other area neighborhood associations listened to the concerns of the Washington district associations about the "piece meal" Tamien changes and very limited notification to community residents while the requirement to notify residents within 1000 feet is meets the current legal requirements it is not in the spirit of San Jose Policy 6-22 — Specific Plans that involves residents and neighborhood associations in community planning decisions.

This medium-rise height is higher than most other actual or proposed high density residential building heights in downtown, the Diridon rail station area, Midtown, the Communications Hill area (which has 2 rail stations) or the Del Monte area sites and other light rail stations that have existing or soon to be constructed community and pedestrian friendly support facilities which our community lacks.

All of the above areas could support higher density medium-rise buildings increasing San Jose housing stock but mostly low rise building heights are being proposed or built seemingly without objection by those in favor of high density development.

The Tamien area is not now and for the next 3-5 years due to the budget crisis continues is not by any reasonable definition not pedestrian friendly and higher height development will only increasing the traffic impact in areas where many intersections if measured properly already have unacceptable traffic levels.

The North Willow Glen Neighborhood Association will continue to host a multi-neighborhood forum and information clearinghouse on the "Alma Bowl" project and its connected planning issues, at



There is a need for city and community discussions on where it is appropriate for the city to add high-density high-rise buildings - before approval is considered for Tamien Place.

Councilmember Ken Yeager has called for city-wide discussions on housing development while recognizing the need for additional housing but the inappropriateness of high density high-rise building in low rise residential suburban neighborhoods when 65 foot high density medium-rise building are more appropriate at this time.

The San Jose Mercury’s Opinion article of Sunday’s July 12, 2003 recognized what the neighborhoods have known for years and the Washington—Willow Glen Community Committee has been working on for the last 5-6 months — the lack of development planning coordination across multiple council districts. While the council members have expressed support about coordinating development issues, there is no community planning structure in place like San Diego’s area planning councils or the neighborhood / community planning committees found in other cities. This results in a very difficult process for residents to receive development notices and have input to the planning process. If surveyed, the majority of the residents and neighborhood associations would state that the current outreach policy and procedures are inadequate and effectively exclude resident participation from the planning process.

The general plan amendment in August 2001 that changed the Tamien Station sub core area building height to 120 feet, as well as allowed unlimited building heights for other transit stations, were advocated by individuals or organizations that are unfamiliar with numerous previous Tamien community discussions on the issue, have a financial interest in building high-rise buildings, or assert that "they know better" than local Washington — Willow Glen residents about what should be done with their community on behalf of the city. It is not only common courtesy to have community-wide or city-wide discussions with those that will be impacted by the high-rise developments, it is necessary to avoid rampant citizen defection from the process and corrosive cynicism about city affairs in general.

There are existing San Jose sites where high density high-rises can be built, in either downtown or other areas where community facilities and pedestrian friendly support facilities currently exist, and where traffic impacts can easily and inexpensively be addressed in this time of fund shortages and budget crisis.

Eleven-story residential buildings should only be built where there is either existing or planned (and actually funded) community and support facilities -- in other words, where this type of density is supportable and appropriate. They should not be built in low-rise residential neighborhoods without "pedestrian friendly" facilities on the assumption that " if high density residential developments are built the private sector will build the needed retail and support facilities " -- a suspect and "piecemeal" assumption even if the area was not in an economic downturn and budget crisis, and clearly faulty when we are.

The actual result, if Tamien Place is forced on the community, will be increased traffic going to schools, parks, retail and other facilities 3 to 15 blocks away. This is unacceptable, especially when these streets are already at unacceptable service levels and many vehicles cut through residential streets to avoid traffic congestion. This "cut-through" traffic is not measured by current development city traffic measurement policies and procedures, but is easy to verify by the high neighborhood demand for the city to provide street bump-outs, islands, signage and painting, street restrictions and closures, increased officer and photo-radar patrols, and other traffic calming measures.

We believe that it sets a bad city-wide planning precedent to impose high density high-rise buildings on low rise residential communities without having community- or city-wide discussions or building facilities to mitigate the impacts.



Two (2) high density medium-rise developments have been built in the Tamien Specific Plan area, but not a single additional community or park facility has been built per the recommendations of the original Tamien plan. This has happened even though the city has collected $913,000 in park impact fees ($6,128 average per unit after adjustments/credits) for the 149 multifamily Italian Gardens family development in the Tamien Specific Plan area. These park fees were transferred to the Tully Road area of the city (slightly less than 2 miles away), not spent in the Tamien area where there is not a single existing park.

No park impact fees were collected for the 143 Italian Gardens (phase I) Senior housing and only small amounts were collected for other area developments to date in the Tamien Specific Plan area.

The Alma neighborhood associations have been told that this time, if they agree to high-density high-rise buildings in the Tamien Specific Plan Area, the resulting park impact fees will build a 2.2-acre Tamien station park out of the existing station parking lot. This promise is extremely unlikely to be fulfilled. The current acquisition cost of the park land from the cash-strapped VTA is estimated to be $4 million minimum and park development itself is estimated to be over $1 million or close to $6 million total. The displaced parking will have to be accommodated on the westside of the plan area, in a parking garage that will cost an estimated $3-4 million to build, and this scheme has not been addressed at all by that district (District 6). This brings the conservative total cost for the proposed park into the $10 million range. The entire park proposal was later characterized as an "exercise conducted with the community" by District 3 staff - but that was not the way it was perceived by its District 3 audience.

The park cannot be paid for by the park impact fees generated by Tamien Place, even when other possible future fees are taken into account. The Tamien Place developer has stated that they will be giving park impact fees based on $10,500 per unit x 242 units, or $3 million, but neglected to state that after private park / recreation credits and affordable income housing credits it is estimated the actual contribution will be closer to $2 million. This leaves an estimated $8 million shortfall.

This is assuming that when the money is distributed to the park fund, it returns to aid the neighborhoods impacted by the development that generated the funds. This doesn't always happen.

To better understand the complex issues, neighborhood representatives talked to the City of San Jose Planning department and two other Washington district neighborhood associations about their concerns. Then five neighborhood associations -- Goodyear - Mastic, North Willow Glen, Tamien, Washington, and Willow Glen -- presented their concerns to the City Council on April 15, 2003. A videotape is available at the library of the presentations. We expressed our concerns about the lack of notification to the entire community, and the traffic impacts, parks, school and community facility impacts due to the almost complete lack of community facilities in the Alma/Washington district - often promised but not built.



Proposals for High Density High-rise Building Development for low-rise suburban housing area should be discussed in a city wide community forum where all interests are equally represented and their opinions are truly considered in the decision-making process for city wide development planning. Neighborhood associations are taking the initiative to organize and present this forum, and they should be given the time necessary to conduct this critical community planning and outreach step before any recommendation is made on the project.

Council members for District 3,6, and 7 indicated at the April 15, 2003, city council meeting that they would work with the neighborhood associations. They have held a number of individual district resident meetings.

We are looking forward to a multiple district meeting of neighborhood association leadership and council staff to continue the coordination of planning for the development of the Washington - Willow Glen community’s vision and what actual practical steps necessary to implement this vision in a time of local and state budget crisis during regional business economic downturn where public and private development funds will be limited for the next 4-5 years.

The majority of the Washington - Willow Glen Community Committee neighborhood associations are members of United Neighborhoods of Santa Clara County (UNSCC). UNSCC is composed of 74 neighborhood associations throughout the county, of which 54 are San Jose neighborhood associations.

The general feeling repeatedly expressed by the neighborhoods at the UNSCC meeting was that neighbor associations do not have a seat at the table to discuss the city development issues with the other groups advocating planning or land use decisions in San Jose and other county cities and their opinions as to city issues were often ignored or if listen to are voted against in support of developer and large corporation economic interests who contribute heavily to political campaigns and most times the required traffic, school, park, retail and community facilities are often promised but later not built due to underfunded developer impact fees after various credits are given and the city does not have the general funds to build the improvements.

UNSCC at the May monthly and later board meeting unanimously voted to set up a Planning and Land Use Committee to study the development issues and propose city / county wide solutions supported by neighborhood associations. The Committee has had 2 meetings and will continue to encourage all neighborhood member associations to become actively involved and set up local neighborhood planning and land use committees to learn about their local issues, planning procedures and policies.

The San Jose Planning Commission has the appearance of being unrepresentative of the greater San Jose community since only 5 of the 10 council districts are represented on the commission and 2 council districts have 2 representatives. There are no professional planners, architects, traffic or transportation engineers, or others that are commonly seen on the planning commissions of other cities. The commission also has the appearance of conflict of interest in their very pro development bias which as been noticed by the community in both their decisions, the lack of true consideration of neighborhood concerns, planning policies and procedures that do not adequately measure actual impacts of development projects and their support of developer’s economic interests rather than San Jose’s various community’s visions for our communities and San Jose.

The 5 of the community’s Neighborhood Associations on April 15, 2003, testified before the City Council and expressed our concerns about the lack of notification to the entire community, and the traffic impacts, parks, school and community facility impacts due to the almost complete lack of community facilities in the Alma/Washington district often promised but not built.

The promised Tamien Station 2.2-acre park is another example of promising the local community a facility when the money to build it is not available. The developer park impact fees are insufficient and the total park is estimated to $6 million ($4.5 million land cost and $1.5 million for park construction) without the proposed VTA garage on Lelong Ave or an estimated $ 9-10 million with the garage to replace the current station parking lot.

Given the high visibility of this project and the critical need for neighborhoods to feel included in the planning process, the efforts by neighborhoods to proceed with an area-wide forum should be encouraged, and community planning and outreach step should occur before any action or recommendation is made on the Tamien Place project.



All any resident wishes for, when a new neighbor appears on the scene, is that the new arrival be a good neighbor. A good neighbor treats you with respect. The Tamien Place development has not treated its neighbors with respect; instead it has excluded some, ignored others, and torn down the attempts of the rest to plan the place they live.

For this reason, which has generated the many flaws and shortcomings of the Initial Study discussed at (great) length above, we protest the Study and ask that the Tamien Place project not be approved and not come before the City Council without correcting its many flaws and shortcomings.

For this reason also, we fear that the many mitigations which are prescribed to accompany this project will not be done, or performed in minimal fashion, and that impacts will be severe and damage will be done to the surrounding neighborhoods as a result. We have particular concern for the children who use the Tamien Child Care Facility, which adjoins the Alma Bowl site.

Planning knows best how to address the concerns and objections we have raised, but we feel that the mandate for outreach has not been met, and that community outreach efforts have failed and must start over; that the project generates impacts significantly different from the environmental impacts studied in 1994, and therefore the plan area must be re-studied; that specific methods of studying impacts in the Initial Study are inaccurate, faulty or antiquated, and new methods must be used to obtain meaningful results; that the Initial Study did not cover many impacts, and that these must be included; that the project has connections to citywide planning issues and policies that must be resolved before the project can be allowed to set an unwanted precedent; that the project diverges from planning commitments made with affected citizens, and that these commitments must be re-forged before any project that diverges from them is allowed to be brought forward; and other requirements must be met to correct errors, inadequacies and indignities noted elsewhere in this document.

We hear that other developers actually sit down with entire communities and reason out a plan that everyone can agree to. We dream of the day this happens to us.


Harvey Darnell
Vice President, North Willow Glen Neighborhood Association

Alison England
President, North Willow Glen Neighborhood Association

Ken Eklund
Traffic Calming Liaison, Webmaster
North Willow Glen Neighborhood Association

and others, with the participation of

Helen Solinski
President, Willow Glen Neighborhood Association

Tom Smith
North Willow Glen Neighborhood Association

and support from other individuals in the Alma, Gardner, Goodyear-Mastic, North Willow Glen, Tamien, Washington, Willow Glen and other neighborhoods, and the Tamien Transit Station service area

(Contact us to add your name to the list.)