San Jose Council Might Adopt Bird-Safe Building Guidelines

Glass buildings may help people inside feel more connected to the outdoors, but they’re a death trap for birds that crash into them. To curb avian collisions, San Jose will consider requiring developers to abide by bird-friendly architectural guidelines if they want to build along the city’s riparian corridors.

The proposal, which comes up for a vote at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, is modeled after rules in San Francisco and would apply only to development north of Highway 237.

Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society and other environmental groups have been urging the city to adopt bird-safe building requirements for years. Hundreds of millions of birds in North America die by flying into reflective buildings each year, according to the American Bird Conservancy.

Millions of those deaths are estimated to occur in San Jose, which lies along the Pacific Flyway avian migratory passage.

A couple years after a fledgling Peregrine falcon fatally struck a window at San Jose City Hall, the city drummed up a voluntary checklist for builders and homeowners to prevent such deaths. If the council codifies those guidelines, San Jose would join San Francisco, Oakland, Sunnyvale, Mountain View and Palo Alto as cities with bird-friendly design rules on the books.

The Committee for Green Foothills, however, would like to see those rules extended to all the city’s riparian corridors, not just the ones north of Highway 237.

Mayor Sam Liccardo wants to gather more data before adopting the policy. In a memo co-signed by council members Ash Kalra, Chappie Jones, Raul Peralez and Vice Mayor Rose Herrera, he suggests that the city consider rules that wouldn’t impose unreasonable costs to new development.

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for August 23, 2016:

  • San Jose may modify its new rent control ordinance, which cut the annual allowable rent increase from 8 percent to 5 percent, by granting an exemption to landlords who can prove that they need to raise the rent higher to see a “fair return” on investment. The 5 percent annual increase should give the “vast majority” of owners a fair return, according to the city. But landlords who can prove that they’re operating at a loss will be able to petition for a higher rent hike under the guidelines.

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

18 Comments

  1. May I suggest that we stop cleaning windows, the birds will be able to see them. Stop building solar panels and wind turbines that also kill thousand of birds. This is just as bad pouring oil on them or cutting down the trees they live in. They are just as dead as the ones EXXON kills, but that seems to be OK as long as you contribute to the right party!
    Ther I’ve done it again!

  2. The City has actual, serious, substantial problems and the Mayor and Council are worried about birds running into windows?!? This is yet another classic example of trying to provide the illusion of progress or of addressing an actual problem but without taking any political risk or taking the chance of offending anyone.

    This is just further corroboration of what I believe is called (or should be called) “FinFan’s Law”. Inspired by Moore’s law, which has to do with the biennial doubling of transistor density, FinFan’s Law applies to progressive politicians, and is based on the historical and widespread observation that their production of stupid ideas doubles every two years.

    • Robillard: don’t you realize that when a government body cannot solve real problems, it reverts to this kind of nonsense? Have you seen the streets of SJ littered with the bodies of countless birds who have flown to their death into the windows of buildings? Neither have I. Another solution in search of a problem. And the irony is, these people were elected by the morons they govern. What have they given us with this bird brained proposal? Yet another impediment to doing business in SJ.

  3. So the SJPD is on the precipice of collapsing, and idiot Liccardo et al are worried about the safety of birds in downtown? Our city council is insane.

  4. But we have green bike lanes and road diets! The village idiots never let us down… Cant make this stuff up. The scary part is how they do not realize how the majority of people view their leadership. As Barry once said “They have acted very stupidly”

    • > The village idiots never let us down… Cant make this stuff up.

      Speaking of village idiots . . . . does everyone know that the next President of California opened a pickle jar on the Jimmy Kimmel show?

      The solution to California’s stuck pickle jar crisis is finally in sight.

        • JMO:

          You need to talk more to your progressive friends. Hillary has been President for twenty-five years. DIdn’t you know.,

    • “The scary part is how they do not realize how the majority of people view their leadership.” Not sue you’re right about that, Reliable. The “majority of the people” keep reelecting the morons.

  5. “Millions of those deaths are estimated to occur in San Jose, which lies along the Pacific Flyway avian migratory passage.”

    How can millions of birds be killed and we not see them piling up on the sidewalk?

    • Mr. Tran,

      Maybe the birds, in an act of total selflessness and out of their compassion for the homeless, are deliberately flying into the sides of buildings in order to kill themselves, drop to the ground, and the homeless are then eating them.

      Rather than fixing the windows that the birds are using to sacrifice themselves to feed the homeless, maybe the City can use tax dollars to put together a program to teach chickens, turkeys ducks, and other tasty avian fare, to fly into the sides of buildings so that the homeless will have some variety in their diets. It must get awfully boring eating pigeons and sparrows all the time.

      Don’t scoff at this idea. This makes about as much sense as anything else City Hall has put out lately. Don’t falcons eat birds? Didn’t the City pay to house falcons on the roof of City Hall? Isn’t there a City funded “falcon cam”?

      We need to immediately put cameras on all high rise buildings in San Jose so that video tape will be available that shows exactly what happened when any bird is contacted by a window. Bird lives matter!

    • ” Hundreds of millions of birds in North America die by flying into reflective buildings each year, according to the American Bird Conservancy.” how can hundreds o millions of birds die unnoticed each year, as claimed by the American Bird Conservancy? They are definitely a bunch of birdbrains for saying that out loud.

  6. Robillard– is that all birds lives that matter, or just black birds lives that matter??

  7. Careful there, JMO,

    All birds are created equal. It’s just that some are more equal than others.

  8. Meanwhile, the Ivanpah solar money sink continues to incinerate birds and bats. And thousands of über-stupid windmills slice and dice them as well. So General Electric makes $billions on those 300-foot monstrosities, at the expense of utility rate payers (them’s you & me, folks). You get what you elect for.

    All those “alternate energy” fiascoes are given a free pass by the enviro-contingent. Solar and wind power (good on days; not at night… and when it’s windy—but not too windy) are the most stupid waste of tax dollars since Solyndra disappeared along with half a billion of our money.

    In the mean time, everyone’s electricity bills have skyrocketed, thanx to the fools who voted for Obama—twice! And more rate hikes are in the works. But he warned them, so no complaining. Obama’s second campaign slogan should have been BOHICA.

    Finally, for the science-challenged: there’s still zero credible evidence that rising CO2 (“carbon”, heh) causes any global warming at all. The same folks who believe in the solar/windmill scam probably believe in the ‘carbon’ scare, too. But there’s no arguing with someone over their eco-religious belief system. Scientific facts whizz over their heads like minced birds thru a GE windmill.

    • Hay,
      So long as the right commi donors get the big government contracts what difference does it make how many eagles get chopped now?

    • > In the mean time, everyone’s electricity bills have skyrocketed, thanx to the fools who voted for Obama—twice!

      Why the Obama economy is so good

      https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Cq6cZUrXYAAhCmE.jpg

      Borrowed money! The magical credit card that never has to be paid back. (At least Obama doesn’t have to pay it back.)

  9. > In the mean time, everyone’s electricity bills have skyrocketed, thanx to the fools who voted for Obama—twice!

    Wait. What?

    Electricity bills have skyrocketed?

    I didn’t notice because I thought it was health care that was skyrocketing.

    http://goo.gl/bRgUGZ