San Jose Mayor Plays Favorites between Billionaire Developers

New details have emerged regarding a 910-unit senior home development in the Evergreen foothills, which is being billed by wealthy developers Carl Berg and Chop Keenan as a shot in the arm for housing San Jose seniors and veterans at affordable prices. Mayor Sam Liccardo adamantly opposes the project, as well as the developers’ effort to go to voters next June and change land-use regulations for the property from industrial to residential. The city says the services necessary for such a project will drain local coffers. Calling it a “proposal for billionaire developers to build housing for millionaires,” Liccardo and staff has been sifting through plans for the development and it appears some clever language has been inserted regarding traffic impact exemptions and requirements to house veterans. Liccardo also tells Fly that the project is hardly affordable considering it has the option of creating “a gated community” with private streets that separate the more expensive homes from the affordable options. “This is fundamentally a gated community built for those affluent enough to afford it,” the mayor says. Representatives for the Evergreen initiative have dismissed such rhetoric, suggesting the city is “grasping for straws.” A source working on the project tells Fly, “They’re trying to use the term ‘gated community’ to imply a rich enclave of some type, but this is really a senior community.” A senior community that will cost at least $650 million to build, according to those close to the project. A while back, Liccardo apparently tried to convince Berg to sell the property to Fulton Street Ventures, an affiliate of Guangzhou R&F Properties in China. Rather than a senior housing development—which could include a swimming pool, spa, bocce court and pickleball!—Liccardo wanted Berg to sell the land so Fulton Street Ventures could create a science park to go along with an “international” university that would include housing for students and faculty. “Yes, the term UC San Jose was one of many other concepts that we considered,” Liccardo says. Berg was unmoved, noting that a contract was already in the works to sell the land, and Keenan reiterated the plan in emails to Ru Weerakoon, a senior policy advisor to the mayor. It appears Weerakoon, who has yet to return a call for comment, tried to wow Keenan by noting that she could arrange a meeting with “THE Chairman” of R&F, which we assume is Li Zhe Lim, a property tycoon with a reported net worth of $3.1 billion. Keenan declined, noting that a contract was in the works and Berg had little interest “given the ill-fated group effort he participated in a decade ago with city encouragement.” Now, with developers going to the ballot to change the land use designation, we’re looking at a costly election fight that could have implications for other greenbelt development around San Jose. A source close to the developer community, who asked not to be named, suggested that the “Evergreen Senior Homes Initiative” could also become a thorn in Liccardo’s side as he seeks re-election next year. “At the end of the day, if you’re a billionaire you probably don’t mind throwing a few million at the measure,” the source says in regard to Berg. The mayor laughed off the threat of a deep-pocketed foe potentially funding a challenger. “The good news,” Liccardo says, “is I can always go and get another job and my wife would be thrilled.”

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12 Comments

  1. Mayor Lick-hard-doo,
    Your an idiot, rich people pay the taxes so you can shell out millions to your illegal voters that are dragging the city down the toilet. An international university, oh please call it what it is, a gateway for more dreamers sucking up tax dollars for your sanctuary city.
    Do something for the citizens for a change!

  2. While we’re on the subject of favoring billionaires, a transient bicyclist was hit and killed the other day on Cherry and Almaden. What does this have to do with favoring billionaires?

    http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/09/26/bicyclist-killed-in-south-san-jose-traffic-collision/

    The entire redesign of that intersection has caused drivers to be more aggressive. Several people I’ve talked to said the entire Almaden Ranch, and street redesign was based off old CEQA’s and traffic impact reports. This entire shenanigan was caused because rather than taking the time to do new CEQA’s and TI reports council just rushed through what was “passable” just to get the project moving.

    Basically while everyone else would have been subject to new CEQA’s, this development was not because of the money involved. A new TI and CEQA might have revealed that this redesign was not right on many levels due to the higher levels of traffic present in the area. It was the wrong decision, and everyone involved in that decision now had blood on their hands.

    Favor billionaires, people die. Think about that next time you decide to go against the community because you think you know better than us.

    (PS I’m very angry and xposting this all over)

    • > While we’re on the subject of favoring billionaires, a transient bicyclist was hit and killed the other day on Cherry and Almaden.

      Bicycle lanes, as they are implemented in San Jose, are EXTREMELY DANGEROUS!

      Mixing fragile, low speed bicycles with 400 horsepower NASCAR clones driven by hormonal teens texting on their smartphones on arterial roadways is STUPID STUPID STUPID!

      Oh, and did I say it was STUPID?

      Yes, but the “400 horsepower NASCAR clones driven by hormonal teens texting on their smartphones” have to stay THREE FEET AWAY from bicyclists.

      Yeah. Right.

      I blame the mouth breathing politically correct lunkheads that bought into the stupid and malignant UN policy behind the bike lanes.

      “Get people out of their cars!”

      “Fight global warming!”

      MURDERERS!

      • I totally agree. Most European bike lanes do not share the road with cars at all, or in the least they have a divider between bike/pedestrian traffic and cars.

        • But we have green paint! This special green paint prevents carbon footprints and makes bicycle riders much safer! But only if they dont die of carbon monoxide while sitting in the narrowed bottleneck roadway.

    • Agreed. My neighborhood is fighting a 5 car stackable automated car wash at the Andoil Gas Station at the corner of Woodard and S. Bascom. Farnham School is just 260 feet from the gas station. The exit for this car wash will be in the DIRECT path of these hundreds of kids walking on the sidewalk right past that exit. Their hours of operation are going to be from 7:00am-9:00pm, and it will be impeded by walls and fences making it harder to see kids and oncoming cars. They are also putting in a convenience store, and have gas pumps that will direct cars to this SAME exit. You know how bad the traffic here is already Robert. It is not if, but when a child gets hit, injured, or killed. The ordinances these new, young Planning Staffers are using are from the 1970s and 1990s! Good grief, you’d think they’d review and revise them by now wouldn’t you? Sad thing is that this project has received several exemptions, like a ZERO foot set back, from residential areas, which is not allowed in the car wash ordinance. Funny thing is, very few of us received the re-zoning ordinance notices so that we could oppose this. Now I wonder how that happened….Hum…

  3. YOU ARE ALL DELUSIONAL. EXACTLY WHO ARE THE TECHIES BRINGING THE JOB TO? NOT LOCALS? The blue collar jobs from techies are mainly construction and they are temporary, then what?? If you are blue collar and you support this TAKEOVER, cause that’s really what it is…you are eventually shooting yourself in the foot. Because if you take a walk down to Google or Yahoo or Apple, take a good look at the faces there, they aren’t locals.

  4. Many city projects are accomplished by “greasing the wheels” of progress and providing personal incentives to city and local officials. It is unfortunate that the two developers choose to take the alternate cheap route without offering city officials a prime residential site for their personal use on this project of 910 units at a considerably reduced rate. It would seem a cheaper alternative for developers to reconsider than spending millions on a voter ballot measure. Maybe the personal incentives were insufficient for local officials. Maybe the developers are greedy and are unfamiliar with San Jose politics. Good luck!

    • The problem with bribing politicians and city officials into approving your project is they are money hungry, and like bears keep coming back to your table for more.

      • Maybe so. Just look at the number of San Jose and other public politicians who own property in Silver Creek and have permanent paid for memberships at the Silver Creek Country Club. Life is good! So what’s the difference between this project and the one proposed? Not much! Different times, I guess, when politicians knew how to take benefits under the table and knew when to say enough. Not saying it’s alright, in fact it’s disgusting. Just saying politicians cover their tracks throughly and are nearly ever held accountable. Watch for the last minute deal with the developers on this project and local politicians!

  5. Its a joke! This whole city and valley is a f-ing joke and a bunch of phony’s. I’m tired of everyone using the excuse we pay for the weather to live here. I would prefer to live again where there is rain and snow. I will put of with that over all the bs this area entails.

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