Mayor Liccardo’s Senior Policy Aide Laments Developers’ Bait-and-Switch Over Jobs, Housing

One of San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo’s top aides is bemoaning how owners of a west San Jose commercial complex are pulling a bait-and-switch. In an email obtained by Fly, senior policy adviser Ru Weerakoon says Fortbay dazzled the city last year with plans to bring 1,500 jobs and 500 residential units to 10 acres off Stevens Creek Boulevard. But in June, “a brief meeting with Tom and Tom”—Fortbay principal Tom deRegt and HMH Architecture veep Tom Armstrong—left Weerakoon less optimistic. In an impassioned dispatch to Kim Walesh, San Jose’s economic development director, Weerakoon described the klatch as “very disappointing,” given the city’s push to prioritize commercial over residential growth. “I like these Toms very much,” Weerakoon wrote. “BUT not when they want to change the rules and get us further and further from our ‘jobs first’ principle.” Originally, plans for the site included market-rate housing, retail and public space, she said. “Well they’ve now changed their minds,” Weerakoon wrote. Their new pitch: to build affordable homes first and offices later. Weerakoon wasn’t having it. “I said, ‘No. You knew the rules coming in,’” she told Walesh. “‘The rules are the rules. Don’t play on the [affordable housing] crisis and our hearts now.’” Fortbay’s plan must meet the standard of “signature project”—the city’s designation for proposals that are architecturally striking and promote job growth—to include housing. And even then, the housing would have to be built at the same time as the commercial component. “So they are trying their tricks with us again … shame on them,” wrote Weerakoon, who declined to comment when contacted by Fly. In a phone call, deRegt acknowledged Weerakoon’s concerns. “There’s a delicate balance between delivering jobs and housing,” he said. “I think for Ru, it’s important that she protects the integrity of the city’s goals.”

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10 Comments

  1. Bravo Ru. Agree completely. We need more jobs in San Jose to pay for our vital city services. Please support her and don’t give into developers.

  2. Snicker snicker,
    Pulling a fast one on the people that want to dump the homeless in our neighborhood parks, well done Tomtom!

  3. San Jose can’t keep developers honest. How can we, the residents, trust anything San Jose city hall tells us? Developers run the city and have for decades. That’s the real reason we have a jobs vs housing imbalance. Other cities don’t get pushed around by developers the way San Jose does.

    For citizens, the only recourse is to vote out the incumbents or raise money and sue the city.

    • Cant keep developers honest? Really? Since when has anyone in the City Council, including all the Mayors from Ron Gonzales on, been honest? They are ALL habitual liars, sycophants and narcissists.
      Measure B was a lie (repealed), Measure V and W gutted the public safety here, Darryl Von Raesfeld destroyed the faith of the Fire Department in City government for generations, Chuck Reed destroyed the faith of the Citizens in its Public safety. They divide by lying and manipulating facts, reality and truth, by pitting the very people tasked with your well being against you, and you against them. THESE people are the enemy….THEY are the purveyors of lies, deceit and manipulation to have you believe they know better than you. YOU are the sheep they shear, year after year.

  4. “Bait-and Switch” was used to purchase Downtown properties by the Redevelopment Agency under the guise of “Affordable Housing”-that was the “Bait.” The “Switch” was that the aforementioned properties were really scheduled to be used for a Downtown Baseball Stadium.

    “Turn-About” is fair play. Especially, when then- Councilmember Liccardo always wore the “Baseball Cap” instead of the Affordable Housing T-Shirt while getting the taxpayers into more debt via the accursed RDA.

    Of course, for the well-informed, in San Jose one must not be too hasty and confuse “Bait-and-Switch” with the more popular practice of the “San Jose-Two-Step.”

    David S. Wall

  5. The unholy triune: ignorant but self-serving politicians, wealthy and controlling developers, and slimy, greasy lobbyists. Is it any wonder that the San Joser City Council is approving thousands of high-rise condos and apartments without the necessary infrastructure… not even enough water!!!

  6. As a resident of Albany Drive facing the Fortbay project site, i’m looking forward to the proposed dense, urban complex. That said, do real estate developers in San Jose get carte blanche to move public streets and destroy mature trees with no consideration for the impact on the community? The existing location of Lopina Way and the beautiful, mature Sweetgum trees that make Albany a potential future ‘greenway’ should be preserved. Stop giving away public assets and parts of the urban forest to the highest bidder!

  7. > Originally, plans for the site included market-rate housing, retail and public space, she said. “Well they’ve now changed their minds,” Weerakoon wrote. Their new pitch: to build affordable homes first and offices later.

    My head is spinning. What’s going on here?

    Why is a “developer” pushing for “affordable (subsidized) housing” over market-rate housing?

    Is the developer somehow making MORE profit by colluding with politicians than by building and offering housing on the free market?

    What’s that smell?

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