Council to Discuss High-Rise Fire Code, Wild Pigs, Softball Complex

An update to the city’s fire and building codes would retain the option for high-rise developers to install oxygen-refilling stations for firefighters. The City Council on Tuesday will talk about reinstating a rule that would allow Firefighter Air Replenishment System (FARS), as opposed to reinforced elevators, in every building 75 feet or taller.

A couple years ago, the city and fire department signed off on a memo that allowed developers to install reinforced elevators in lieu of FARS. But, according to some council members and firefighter union president Robert Sapien, using elevators to carry up oxygen is a slow, dangerous and cheaper alternative.

“Elevators are not reliable under fire conditions,” Sapien wrote in a letter to the city. “FARS is an effective tool for firefighters and is a long-term solution for a real problem in combating fires in high rise buildings.”

Councilmembers Johnny Khamis, Rose Herrera, Kansen Chu and Xavier Campos agree in a memo with keeping the FARS option. “Manual delivery of air bottles is a misuse of highly trained personnel, who could be on the front lines of fire attack performing the critical tasks of saving lives and property,” the memo states.

As San Jose Inside previously reported, the issue is somewhat moot considering the San Jose Fire Department doesn’t train its staff how to use reinforced elevators or FARS. The councilmembers’ memo suggests Rescue Air, the company that manufactures FARS, install a training facility at no cost to the city.

In the spring, Councilman Sam Liccardo and Mayor Chuck Reed proposed doing away altogether with the FARS option, which was made non-mandatory in 2010. The city must have safety codes at least as strong as state requirements—which only require reinforced elevators in high-rise buildings—but it can have more restrictive policies.

The average cost of installing these stairwell air-refilling stations is about $210,000, the city says. That’s about 1/8 of 1 percent of the average cost of building a high-rise in San Jose.

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for November 5, 2013:

• Wild pigs are on the loose in Almaden! You may have heard by now that wild boars are rooting up lawns in the south San Jose neighborhood. The Merc dubbed the problem “Aporkalypse Now.” The city proposes an urgency ordinance that would allow licensed trappers to shoot the pigs. Right now it’s illegal to discharge a firearm within city limits.

San Jose may chip in with the Santa Clara Unified School District to transform Agnews Developmental Center into a high school and public park. Agnews treated the mentally ill for 120 years until the state closed it down in 2009.

• The city may build a major softball complex on a site near Eastridge Mall. The project, funded by $228 million in bond revenue from 13-year-old Measure P, would place softball fields on the property owned by Arcadia/Evergreen Circle Development Company, unless the city opts to build smaller fields on five other potential sites. One alternative, which could cost more and take more time to build, would be to place the fields at the county fairgrounds.

• The City Clerk’s office set new voluntary expenditure limits for next year’s elections.

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 the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Where are all the usual suspects who love to bash SJ City Employees regarding pay and pensions? The Mayor Reed Sunshine Reform and Open Government Cheerleaders?

    Sure it is understood that the money raised by this bond can LEGALLY be used for a very specific few things like the proposed softball complex. The questions you ALL should be asking are (1) How much money did the bond raise? (2) WHERE IS THAT MONEY RIGHT NOW? and (3) How will the City pay the bondholder/investors?

    If Reed, the Council and City cannot give a straight answer immediately then it is one good indicator for why Reed wants yet another “SLUSH” fund for office holders’ legal defense.

    (11 hours after I posted this to the SJMN article on the softball fields there have been no sightings of the “usual suspects. Maybe they will surface here…)

    (yea – im posting this to the MWFb page too)

    • Here’s the latest report for the Park and Recreation Fund.

      Here’s the County tax rates report: Department/Property Tax Apportionment/Documents/Tax Rate Book 2013-2014.pdf

      It says that the tax rate is $.0279 per $100 of assessed value for 2000 G O Bonds.  Half of that is probably from Measure O, the library measure though.

      Why do we have to spend so much on softball?

      • Thanks for the link, from what my untrained eyes are telling me it looks like the audit dated June 2012 showed a “fund balance” of about $34million and mentions several times that there are two projects from the bond measure that had yet to be completed – the soccer facility and the softball facility.

        The link that SJI provided (memo dated October 2013 regarding the softball facility) says there is $17mill (and change) left in the account with $9.7 allocated for the softball facility and the remaining $7.9million is a “contingency fund” for the softball facility.

        I am guessing that the other $17million from the bond fund was spent on the soccer facility that is set to go on Coleman across from the airport and next to the new Earthquakes Soccer Stadium (built on City donated land with private money from, anyone? anyone? Lew Wolfe???)  retail and hotel complex. 

        Now, I thought that one of the agreements that he City had with Wolfe was that he was going to pay for or at least kick in a sizeable amount of money to build the proposed public/city owned soccer facility in exchange for having the Earthquakes organization run the facility for the City and to comply with City requirements for developers to provide “park lands” when they do their developer thing. 

        So if I am correct and Wolfe is supposed to be picking up the tab or a substantial portion of it the Soccer facility must be one premier/state of the art facility for the amount the City is also kicking in…

        • I think I remember that Wolff was supposed to build a soccer facility.  I found this:

          So either they misrepresented what was promised, or it got scaled back.

          Likewise in Santa Clara, did they just figure out that they need more parking for that 49er Stadium, or did they know all along and waited until after the stadium was under construction to try to move their soccer facility to that nature preserve?

          As for the soccer complex that the Merc reports was voted down; is the Fairgrounds a better option, or is someone with more money now pulling the strings?

  2. We have enough pigs on the city council eating up our city funds and now some want to kill the real thing because their lawns are a mess.  Did we not forgot about the Evergreen complaints with deer?

    Don’t like wildlife then move into the San Jose’s plush low income housing, no wildlife there.  Just more crime.  #40 homicide this week.

    Softball fields, what has the city being doing with the 228 million they are sitting on for 13 years?.  Bet it is like the pension fund.  Lets spend it on RDA projects, Airport. ball park, Etc then when it is needed Chuck cries we don’t have the money anymore because we spent it on special projects.

    City loves to put measures to raise money then spend it on pet projects.

    • I know….we can put it into the St. James Park Music Pavilion.  The 228 million is long gone. The. City Council will continue to study the matter until the taxpsyers forget about it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *