Op-Ed: Councilman Diep, Why Are You Misleading Constituents?

Councilman Lan Diep, we reached out to you, our District 4 representative, to help fight against San Jose’s Charcot Avenue Extension—a project suggested by bureaucrats decades ago that, for the longest time, no one cared enough about to actually pursue.

And why would anyone? The project will widen a residential street next to an elementary school and put almost 14,000 cars next to 900 young children playing and learning. It will cut through the community, wall off homes and school playground on both sides of the road with massive 6-foot-plus sound barriers, and increase air pollution at the school more than 2.5 times. Yet, here we are.

Traffic engineers awash with VTA Measure B money are rushing to pour concrete down in our neighborhood to make room for more cars causing more congestion—paving over our playground and ball field.

We asked you to help. Your response is a lengthy letter seemingly intended to mislead us.

The city’s traffic study shows building the extension will lead to people driving more. Yet, you falsely write “this project is not going to increase traffic”.

You talk of “pedestrian lanes” as if people were cars.

You say “there will be crosswalks to ensure the safety of the students and residents.” Do we really need to point you to the countless reports of people dying in crosswalks every day? No crosswalk can “ensure” the safety of our children.

The experts from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District analyzed the city’s air pollution study and scolded San Jose for using an outdated model, for deviating from standard practices recommended by the state, for underestimating exposure rates. Our region’s leading experts worry that cancer rates and fine particle exposure have been significantly underestimated by the city.

Yet, you write that consultants studied the issue “extensively” and deemed that there would be no negative health impact. We understand that the consultants took a long time and charged a lot of money, but that doesn’t mean the result is high quality work.

Equity, the idea that we need to take special care of our most vulnerable, is not mentioned in the city’s 204-page draft environmental report. Not once. So how can you say, equity “was given close attention?”

You say you “hope” this project will alleviate bumper-to-bumper traffic. “Hope?” The health of our children is too important to risk for something we are not sure will work.

You write that the “design team has responded to community input.” This is laughable. We have asked for a pedestrian overpass instead of a road. The team insists on putting cars next to the school. We’ve asked to evaluate a location away from the school. Denied. Banning trucks next to the school? Denied. We asked for narrower lanes to slow them down. Denied. A full traffic signal at the crosswalk? Denied. A raised crosswalk? Denied. Air pollution monitoring on the school site? Denied. Fifteen mile-per-hour speed limit?

Denied. Denied. Denied.

We’ve been advised that if we protest long enough, if we make enough noise, we will probably get one, two or maybe even three of the things we asked for. That staff not agreeing to them now is a negotiating tactic. This is infuriating. For staff to hold back on safety improvements just so they have a better negotiating position later on is reprehensible. The safety of children is not a bargaining chip.

And that brings me to my last and most important point.

You write that “every effort is being made to ensure that the students’ quality of life is not diminished” and that “the city made it a priority to protect students and the environment.” No it isn’t, and no you have not made it a priority.

If you were to truly make the children a priority and expand every effort, then you—and city staff—would call for canceling the project or at least changing it to a bike-friendly and pedestrian-safe overpass. But you don’t. Instead of fighting with us and for us, you seem set to confuse and mislead. Our children deserve better.

Clémence Tiradon is the Orchard School PTA president and the mother of a second grader and a future kindergartner. Along with a core group of parents and other community representatives, she has been engaging in the protest against the city’s Charcot Avenue Extension for over a year and a half. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to [email protected].

14 Comments

  1. Thank you Clémence Tiradon for this fantastic piece. You have convinced me to not only vote again for Mr Diep, but also contribute to his campaign. Anyone who is fighting against logic such as this needs as much help as I can muster.

    Can someone from his campaign post a link?

  2. Another wealthy out of touch non San Josean. Thank you Lan for listening to constituent needs,
    Not the squeaky, entitled wheel.

  3. Great letter, the comunity needs to show up in force at city hall and have there say in front of the Mayor and councilors.

  4. This project would defiantly relive traffic on Brokaw and Montague Expressway but then jam up the area around the school . Raising the roadway or building pedestrian overpasses would solve a bunch of problems. Pollution should be no problem as every one will be driving electric cars by the time it’s ready to open.

  5. ‘Op-Ed: ”

    Dangerous crosswalks.

    Increased air pollution.

    More cars causing more congestion

    People driving more

    People dying in crosswalks every day

    Experts scolding San Jose for using an outdated model

    Experts deviating from standard practices recommended by the state

    Experts underestimating exposure rates

    Experts worrying about cancer rates and fine particle exposure

    Consultants taking a long time and charging a lot of money

    Equity not mentioned in the city’s 204-page draft environmental report

    Why do I doubt that these are the real concerns of a “PTA president and the mother of a second grader and a future kindergartner.”

    This is just list of campaign “knock-offs” cobbled together by a paid consultant working to take down Diep.

    And who is Clémence Tiradon: “Our children deserve better”? Likely an ELECTED PTA president, hoping someday to be an ELECTED something else. Everyone has a dream.

    • So you trust a politician who is using buzzwords that have absolutely no bearing on reality? While traffic congestion is a major issue, this project will only alleviate the burden by 17 seconds. Is that enough time to justify subjecting school children and residents to unhealthy levels of pollution? Recent studies are doubling down on the harms of pollution and how they impact not only physical but mental health.

      • > So you trust a politician who is using buzzwords that have absolutely no bearing on reality?

        I DON’T trust any politician who gives twelve lame reasons for something or other.

        If there was a GOOD reason, one reason would be enough.

        > Recent studies are doubling down on the harms of pollution and how they impact not only physical but mental health.

        Were the “recent studies” GOOD studies or BAD studies?

        Studies are usually meaningless crap put together or paid for by lobbyists or special interest groups.

        If you put your mind to it, you could probably find a “recent study” that says the moon is made out of green cheese.

        “Recent studies” usually don’t come with a warranty or a money back guarantee. Try getting your money back. Fat chance!

        • @ sjoutsidethebubble

          Yes, you don’t know Clemence, but I do!

          Stick to the subject instead of questioning people’s motives. Are you for or against this project!?

          My children went to Orchard School. The parents all work very hard to improve this school. Clemence and many parents work tirelessly to help the school to bring better education programs to the children of this community.
          The PTA positions are really VOLUNTARY and not “ELECTED” because no one else would step up!!

          Thank you Clemence for being our voice!
          We appreciate everything that you do.

    • What would alleviate the burden is expanding Brokaw or Montague, this only saves 17 seconds. Not worth the time or expense.

  6. This is my daughters school. It already is on a expressway type road. ( no one drives slow around here!) absolutely Not!!!!! This extension is a direct danger to these kids.

  7. Thank you Clémence Tiradon, it is great to show our voice again.
    Since around 3 years ago, in 1st community meeting, No body in meeting supported this wired “overpass” project.
    This project is:
    Outdated, based plan which drafted 30 years ago.
    Danger our school, life of children
    Pollute our air
    get more congestion, lure more car-traffic, Will not solve Traffic problem.

    It is shame for Lan Diep( our Dist4 representative ), he Never listened the people he represented
    Do you remember the “homeless shelter project” planed on Berryessa area, it will happen in District 4.
    We need a new representative for Dist 4, a representative listening to our resident. Vote Lan Diep out of office
    Let’s united together, fight for our self, STOP “Charcot Avenue Extension” project, STOP “homeless shelter” project

  8. I do not see how this bridge would make a huge impact going eastbound – from Oakland Road, you will have to go back to either Montague or Brokaw.

    Using over $35m (?) of our tax dollars to allow some cars to bypass a few blocks is not a justifiable spend!

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