Op-Ed: Local Agencies Ask Public to Help Design Berryessa-BART Urban Village, N. 13th St. Corridor

In 2018, it’s nearly impossible to have a discussion about California without touching upon the issue of housing, especially in the Bay Area.

Recently, AARP conducted a study that revealed many Californians are concerned about housing-related costs and that such costs are posing a major obstacle to saving for retirement. According to the research, 61 percent of respondents reported that they have considered leaving the state because of the high cost of living. This is just one of many reasons why AARP is actively working to address the issue of housing.

Understanding that planning and developing communities suitable for people of all ages is no easy task, we must find ways to embed strategies to build “age-friendly” communities that are inclusive of older adults (particularly in the area of housing) within local urban planning agendas.

For this to occur, the traditional aging network must partner with other organizations such as planning departments, private property owners, architects and developers. Without strategic partnerships and the ability to plant ourselves within the urban planning fabric of local jurisdictions, any expectation of influencing the built environment to support livability for people of all ages is all but impossible.

It is with these challenges—and more than 3.3. million members across California in mind—that the AARP is committed to working with local communities to stimulate solutions to address the critical issue of housing by hosting a Livable Communities Design Charrette.

From Monday to May 5, AARP will host a charrette at the Tech Museum of Innovation in downtown San Jose. The charrette will bring together community members, non-profits such as SPUR and [email protected], property owners, developers, the city of San Jose and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) to creatively develop a plan for two communities: the Berryessa/BART urban village and North 13th Street business corridor.

The charrette is open to the public and admission to the Tech Museum is free. It is vital that the community comes and shares their opinions on what they want or don’t want developed in these two critically important areas of San Jose.

The charrette is a community-driven design process that brings together all interested parties to develop a collaborative solution with the expectation of implementation. The goal of the charrette is to advance innovative solutions to livability issues, such as affordable housing and to promote the repurposing of underutilized existing facilities to help make communities more livable for multigenerational, low-to moderate-income individuals and families, with a specific focus on the needs of people 50 years or older and their families.

It is time we take action and bring everyone to the table to build livable communities that encompass strong housing for all. Join organizations and leaders from throughout the region, including: San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Councilman Raul Peralez, Councilman Lan Diep, Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) and state Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) as we work together to develop innovative solutions.

Fred Buzo is the Associate State Director of Community for AARP in San Jose. To learn more about the charrette, visit states.aarp.org/sanjosecharrette. Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Interested in writing an op-ed? Email pitches to [email protected].

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