A blueprint to transform San Jose's main transit station into a bustling development and hub for future BART and high-speed rail trains come up for a vote Tuesday.
The City Council will weigh in on the Diridon Station Area Plan, a land-use document five years in the making that would completely redevelop a 250-acre zone around the Diridon Station. As drafted, the plan would allow for nearly 5 million square feet of office, research and development and industrial space, 2,600 new homes, 900 hotel rooms and 424,000 square feet of retail. Click here for more details.
Most of the controversy over the document centers on parking. Owners of the SAP Center say the city needs to reserve more space for cars to accommodate visitors to the arena. But smart-growth proponents say the city should discourage car dependence. Proponents of less parking say the city should use envision development that's higher, denser and relatively car-free.
"The current plan for Diridon Station, while exciting compared to the area’s current uses, doesn’t propel San Jose—and Silicon Valley—forward as far as it should," Greg Baumann, editor-in-chief of the Silicon Valley Business Journal, wrote in March. "The development envisioned for the area can be taller and denser, forming a model for future transit-oriented development."
People watching the plan worry that some last-minute amendments to the plan by Mayor Chuck Reed would give the sports and entertainment arena veto power over whether to accept less parking.
An earlier memo recommended shared parking by getting new commercial developments to make their space available to arena visitors in the evening, after work hours. Reed's memo clarified that the goal is to maintain current parking availability until the city and arena agree that enough people use public transit to reduce the parking supply.
"This proposal has two bad implications," the Peninsula Transportation Alternatives blog noted this week. "First, a developer of a new office building could be forced to build more parking than their new office tenants need, in order to preserve parking supply for the arena. Second, the arena would have veto power over whether and when new developments could be free to stop oversupplying parking."
Andrew Boone, of StreetsBlog SF, also worries that the latest iteration of the plan would lose restoration of the Los Gatos Creek Trail, a project that drew strong public support.
"Reconstructing Montgomery Street and Park Avenue, to allow the creek and a trail to pass underneath in an open channel, would fill in the missing link between the Los Gatos Creek Trail and the Guadalupe River Trail," Boone wrote Monday. "This connection would link Los Gatos, Campbell, and Willow Glen with existing off-street trails that extend all the way to downtown Mountain View and Palo Alto, via the San Francisco Bay Trail. Restoring the creek and constructing a multi-use path along it would also create new and very valuable park space in the center of a dense urban area—a rare opportunity."