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of the Proposed Tamien Place development
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.
1) NEIGHBORHOODS SUPPORT THE
The communitys 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.
1a. THE CITY AND THE COMMUNITY
FORM A PLAN.
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.
1b. THE PLAN IS SIGNIFICANTLY
ALTERED, IN PIECEMEAL FASHION.
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.
1c. THE COMMUNITY SUPPORTS 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.
2) THE CITY MUST UPHOLD THE VISION OF THE ORIGINAL
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 panels 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
3) THE LOW-RISE SCALE OF THE SURROUNDING NEIGHBORHOODS,
PLUS ITS SUBURBAN SETTING, PRECLUDES TWIN HIGH-RISES.
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 citys
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.
4) NEIGHBORHOODS DO NOT SUPPORT HIGH-RISES IN
THIS LOW-RISE RESIDENTIAL AREA, AND THEY REJECT HIGH DENSITY WITHOUT
SOLID PLANS FOR AMELIORATION.
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 citys 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.
5) NON-INTEGRATION OF COMMUNITIES
The proposed project does not
integrate into the existing Tamien Area community. The original 1995
Tamien Station Specific Plan discussed the communitys 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
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!
6) NO AESTHETIC INTEGRATION, PIECEMEAL LAND USE
PLANNING IN TAMIEN
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.
6a. NO AESTHETIC INTEGRATION IN
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.
6b. NO FUNCTIONAL INTEGRATION
HAS BEEN SHOWN.
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.
7) AESTHETIC CHARACTERIZATIONS: INACCURACIES IN THE INITIAL STUDY
7a. "HIGHLY URBANIZED SETTING"
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.
7b. "GRADUAL CHANGE IN SCALE"
The proposed 45 foot tall townhouse
buildings are being characterized as providing "a gradual change
in scale between the existing multi-family residential buildings
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.
7c. "NOT INCONSISTENT WITH EXISTING
PATTERN OF AREA DEVELOPMENT" IS EXTREMELY INACCURATE
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.
7d. NO ACTUAL VISUAL AIDS PREPARED
BY WHICH INDIVIDUALS CAN JUDGE
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.
8) TRAFFIC CALCULATIONS AND CHARACTERIZATIONS: INACCURACIES IN
THE INITIAL STUDY
8a. CONNECTOR STREETS TO FREEWAY NODES LEFT OUT;
THESE CONNECTORS SUFFER VOLUME REQUIRING FURTHER STUDY
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.
8b. SIX TRIPS PER LANE AT BIRD/WILLOW AND BIRD/MINNESOTA
CAUSE TRAFFIC ON BIRD REQUIRING FURTHER STUDY
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
8c. MORNING BUS TRAFFIC ON LICK
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.
8d. ADJUSTING FOR ACTUAL TRAFFIC
FLOWS WITH HISTORIC DATA
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.
8e. "CUT-THROUGH" TRAFFIC PROBLEM WITH NEIGHBORHOODS,
UNDERMINES ACCURACY OF TRAFFIC STUDY
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
8f. FREEWAY CONGESTION NOT CONSIDERED
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.
8g. REFLECT CHANGING TRAFFIC FLOW
ON VINE AND ALMADEN
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.
9) PIECEMEAL DEVELOPMENT: HOUSING UNIT OVERRUN MANDATES NEW IMPACT
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
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.
10) LAND USE "NO SIGNIFICANT
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
A private walled-off community
has a significant adverse land use on the community on the surrounding
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.
11) NOISESTUDY IGNORES HIGHWAY 87, NOISE IMPACT
ON PROJECT RESIDENTS, AND THE REFLECTION OF NOISE INTO COURTYARD,
TOWNHOUSES, AND NEIGHBORHOODS
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.
11a. INITIAL STUDY IGNORES HIGHWAY
87 AS SOURCE OF NOISE.
"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.
11b. THE WESTERN-FACING WINDOWS
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.
11c. NOISE REFLECTION PROBLEM
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.
11d. NOISE NON-MITIGATION
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.
11e. POOR NOISE-REDUCTION DESIGN
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.
12) DETRIMENT TO SCHOOLS
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.
13) PRIVACY AND SHADE ISSUES
The project will violate community
privacy and shade issues, as specified in the community-approved Specific
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.
14) FIRE AND SAFETY RESPONSE
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.
15) AIR POLLUTION AND SOLID WASTE HANDLING
AND DISPOSAL ISSUES
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?
16) AFFORDABLE HOUSING 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.
QUESTIONS AND REQUESTED CHANGES
Concerning both the specific Tamien
Place development and the General Plan
17) COMMUNITY BENEFITS AGREEMENT
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
A Community Benefits Plan must
be created for this area before any further development is undertaken.
18) GETTING A PARK FOR TAMIEN
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.
19) TRAFFIC STUDIES ARE INADEQUATE
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
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
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 oftenwhich
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
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.
20) ADDING CUT-THROUGH TRAFFIC HAS A VERY
DELETERIOUS EFFECT ON NEIGHBORHOODS
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.
21) EXPENSIVE STREET IMPROVEMENTS
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.
22) NEIGHBORHOOD EFFORTS ADDRESS LACK OF PLANNING,
SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED TO CONTINUE
The Washington Willow
Glen Community Committee was formed to coordinate a thoughtful, well-researched
and coordinated community approach to area planning issues by neighborhood
The Washington Willow Glen
Community Committee was formed as an informal community organization
by leaders of the areas 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
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
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 www.northwillowglen.org.
23) SETTLING CITY-WIDE ISSUES, COORDINATING MULTI-DISTRICT
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
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 Mercurys Opinion
article of Sundays July 12, 2003 recognized what the neighborhoods
have known for years and the WashingtonWillow 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 Diegos 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
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.
24) UNDERSERVED AREAS SHOULD NOT HAVE TO PAY
TO GET DENIED SERVICES AND FACILITIES
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
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.
25) NO TRUE FORUM FOR DISCUSSING DEVELOPMENT IN
THE TAMIEN AREA HAS BEEN PRESENTED SINCE THE SPECIFIC PLAN
WAS DISCUSSED IN 1994. NEIGHBORHOODS FEEL LEFT OUT, AND RIGHTLY
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 communitys 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 developers economic interests rather than San
Joses various communitys visions for our communities and
The 5 of the communitys
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
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.
26) NOT A GOOD NEIGHBOR
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.
Vice President, North Willow Glen Neighborhood Association
President, North Willow Glen Neighborhood Association
Traffic Calming Liaison, Webmaster
North Willow Glen Neighborhood Association
and others, with the participation of
President, Willow Glen Neighborhood Association
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
us to add your name to the list.)