Evergreen Ever Growing

City Hall Diary

Vice Mayor Dave Cortese wins the prize for having the most historical knowledge of his district. I had the opportunity to tour District 8 with the vice mayor and get a better understanding of the land we call Evergreen and its agricultural history.

The housing boom started in 1975 with single family houses galore. Transportation congestion quickly became an issue. In 1993, there was the open allocation which allowed the building of an additional 3,900 houses that were swallowed up by the market. Part of the reason for housing development was the change in the cost of water to Evergreen farms from an agricultural rate to market rate. The cost was $60 per acre foot of water and then rose to $600 per acre foot. Evergreen farms at the time were competing with central valley farms who paid $12 an acre foot for water. Try selling cherries against other farms when you’re paying 50 times as much for water. Therefore, farmers had an incentive to sell their land for housing. (Should we subsidize water to save local farms and open space?)

We drove through the neighborhoods that were built in that 1993 allocation and I must say that there was some good planning. I saw large parks, trails and attractive homes. If you are in the market for a house in San Jose and value parks, you should consider Evergreen. During this build-out, the developers paid for much of the infrastructure and even funded maintenance.

The schools are supported by a Mello-Roos district set up for 1993 housing allocation. Evergreen High benefits from this district and is physically impressive and has a great reputation for academics.

The problems of Hwy 101 congestion are huge. The Cortese’s plan of pooling land owners and developers to create a larger community benefit for infrastructure investments made more sense after our tour. No single development can fix the aggregate infrastructure problems. The Berg property, for example, is not the best location for industry. However, since the prior council converted so much industrial land, there was a case to hold on to it. Now that the housing market has crashed, I would imagine this property will sit for a while, unless new, fast-growing, cutting-edge companies like Tesla Motors or Infinera see the value of a large parcel with incredible hillside views.

Evergreen has three sides. One is farmland that still remains in a pristine state as part of the greenbelt. The second is modern luxury housing, like Silver Creek, with predominately affluent families. The third is more working class, eastside-type housing, like we saw on Rigoletto by Eastridge. This SNI area had a fatal shooting of a 15-year-old. Since then, the Rigoletto initiative has been launched with police to combat crime in this neighborhood. Surprising to me was that are very fewer apartments in District 8 in comparison to the rest of the city.

The Eastridge area has gained new restaurants, allowing for people to eat out without trekking to downtown, and has had success with locating luxury car dealerships, like Infiniti and Mercedes. I have to say that Eastridge is looking really nice. Every store space was full and it is ultra clean. Outstanding questions for this specific neighborhood are: Will the VTA fund the extension of light rail to Eastridge? Will the Reinhard/Arcadia property remain vacant?

Finally, during our tour, we drove past a utility box blocking the visual entrance to a park and Vice Mayor Cortese pointed and said, “How much do you think it costs to move one of those metal utility boxes?”  The box was about 6 feet by 4 feet, and the answer was $275,000 to move it—gulp. Guess that box is staying put just like some parcels of land in Evergreen.

9 Comments

  1. Outstanding questions for this specific neighborhood are: Will the VTA fund the extension of light rail to Eastridge? Will the Reinhard/Arcadia property remain vacant?

    You omitted an important question for this neighborhood, and surrounding neighborhoods.

    Will the county close Reid-Hillview and stop subjecting the residents to the airborne lead pollution from Reid-Hillview?

    RHV Lead Pollution: http://www.reidhillview.com/#lead
    RHV Economics: http://www.reidhillview.com/#1
    RHV Aerial Photo: http://www.reidhillview.com/RHV_brochure.pdf
    RHV History: http://www.reidhillview.com/rhv_history.htm
    RHV Overview: http://www.reidhillview.com/

  2. I grew up in the Evergreen in the area in which Evergreen Valley High is currently located (Prior to EVH we all attended Silver Creek High School). My parents, whom still live on a large Shapell track home that sits on a half acre, refer to our part the district as the Evergreen foothills.  I do my best to vist them every Sunday (since 1982) and the traffic congestion is amazing (101 to Capital EXPWY) – EVEN ON A SUNDAY.  Is it bothersome, inconvenient…? Like any growing populated area – you learn to live with it and adjust accordingly.  Just like we should learn to live with parking issues in our growing downtown San Jose.  Like San Francisco & LA – it’s part of becoming METROPOLITAN CITY and to some degree adds to the whole “vibrant feel” of being a big city.  We do have an opportunity to try to improve in these areas and I believe our city is doing the best it can to address the concerns “in parallel” before we actually reach a critical mass.  It’s the quality of the roads itself, that I think we should look at “reapairing” ASAP.  I love the Evergreen and I love downtown San Jose…thanks for giving the Evergreen some good PR overall!

  3. The VTA has pretty much abandoned the Eastridge Light Rail line due to the cost of BART to San Jose.  I believe they currently are working on a bus plan that will have dedicated bus lanes on Alum Rock and down Capitol to Eastridge. 

    Of course, VTA changes direction more than a baby changes diapers, so it is hard to say for sure exactly what they are doing.  However, the end result will most likely resemble the diaper’s end result.

  4. Good insight into the Evergreen area, Pierluigi.

    I never have understood why San Jose hasn’t adopted the Mello-Roos concept.  Many of the new developments cry out for such infrastructure.

  5. Instead of moving that utility box, I’d rather go all-out and put those huge power lines under ground. Capitol Expressway is the most desolate, derelict, depressing embarrassment to our cityscape. The wide roads, sound walls, chain link fences and dirt make for one hideous stain on San Jose.

    It could be a nice boulevard lined with apartments and stores and light rail down the median. That contagious airport could be a smart Santana Row for other cultures and classes represented on the eastside. Yeah, that’s all just dreaming, but there’s no need to neglect what’s already been built. Just improve.

  6. #5

    Good comments. You should have been at General Plan 2040 meeting last night as we talked about planning great corridors in SJ and Capitol Expwy being one of them. Emphasis was plan less for cars and more for pedestrians. You do have East Side representation on the GP Taskforce that spoke up last night for you.

  7. #5

    I have to agreee with Pierluigi Oliverio that you did have a good post.

    I esepcially like this part:

    “That contagious airport could be a smart Santana Row for other cultures and classes represented on the eastside.”

    If that should happen, or something similar, it probably would generate more tax revenue for the city and the county in one week than Reid-Hillview generates in a year.

    According to 2005 data presented during the Reid-Hillview Master Plan process, the three county airports (RHV, Palo Alto, South County) combined generate $768,000 in local tax funds.  That is all 3 airports combined.

    This is the breakdown of the tax revenue from 2005 data.

    $250,000 – Santa Clara County General Fund
    $27,000 – Santa Clara County Transit District
    $13,000 – Santa Clara County Transportation Fund
    $107,000 – City of San Jose General Fund
    $117,000 – San Jose and Morgan Hill school districts
    $129,000 – City of Palo Alto General Fund
    $125,000 – Palo Alto school district

    http://www.reidhillview.com/bae_data.pdf

    RHV Economics: http://www.reidhillview.com/#1