About five years ago, word got out on social media that Communications Hill, with its grand staircases and stunning views, is a great workout spot. People checked in on Facebook, posted photos, even started a Yelp page, drawing droves of visitors.
Neighbors started complaining as streets became clogged with cars, the stairs littered with wrappers and visitors loitered late into the night, sometimes blaring music, drinking, taking drugs and/or showing more affection than public decency laws permit. Because the stairs are zoned as a public right-of-way, like a sidewalk, the city can't enforce curfew or do much, if any, crowd control.
But a state bill could change that. Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose) is proposing legislation that would give cities authority to regulate pedestrian right-of-ways. SB 236 was penned with the Communications Hill footpath in mind, but would apply to all cities.
“Cities would have greater latitude on controlling the public use of staircases in order to address the needs and concerns of its residents like those who live on Communications Hill,” Beall said. “It’s time we get ahead of this issue before the development expands and things get worse for the residents.’’
San Jose city officials asked for the bill after fielding hundreds of complaints over the years from residents of the south San Jose hillside neighborhood.
“I want to thank Sen. Beall and the state legislature for helping San Jose solve the problems the Communications Hill neighborhood is facing,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “Without this critical bill, the City and the residents will be challenged in our efforts to clean up and maintain order with the Communications Hill staircase.”