County Supervisors Look at Property Options

Santa Clara County has collected some valuable parcels of land near downtown San Jose in recent years. San Jose relinquished its old City Hall site in 2011 instead of paying cash for some outstanding debt. The county’s also about to acquire the old Private George L. Richey U.S. Army Reserve to turn into a first-responder training site, adjacent to the existing County Government Center at San Pedro and Hedding streets.

The property is real estate gold in the heart of Silicon Valley, close to an international airport, connected by public transit and next door to some of the most powerful companies on the planet. So the county wants developers to submit ideas for a master plan to build the combined 55-acre parcel into a public-private development.

County supervisors on Tuesday will vote on whether to issue requests for proposals to get the ball rolling. Right now, the Civic Center site is home to the Sheriff’s Office, the Valley Transportation Authority rail yard, parking lots and the county government center. The San Jose Police Department headquarters and National Guard Offices are adjacent to the site.

The county wants to see anywhere from 600,000 to 1.2 million square feet of governmental office space and enough redevelopment to transform the look and feel of the decades-old campus and the neighborhood around it. Supervisors recently commissioned a market study for the project that highlights the tremendous growth projected for north San Jose, including a population boom because of all the apartment developments planned for the neighborhood.

The timeline for the county Civic Center campus hasn’t yet been determined, but if the development gets going in the next few years, it could open on the heels of another big project slated for nearby Japantown. The latter project is being spearheaded by the city of San Jose.

A county memo states: “The county’s ownership of the majority of the lands and these recent transfers prompted an investigation that begun in 2012 that would assist the county to enhance efficiency of government services, move the county toward the highest and best use of its property, explore opportunities for revenue generation and move further along the path of sustainability.”

Efficiency, revenue and sustainability are key, but the county says it’s open to hearing a wide range of ideas: old City Hall could get demolished or creatively renovated, government offices consolidated and public-private partnerships created.

More from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors agenda for April 9, 2013:

• Every year, the county gets a sum of cash from a federal fund made up of property and unlawfully gained proceeds seized from convicted criminals. The money, by law, has to go to some law enforcement purpose. The county wants to use $1,000 of it this year to get a bunch of students to paint a mural in a room set aside in the District Attorney’s Office for victim-witnesses in sexual assault cases. The idea is to transform the meeting room into a space that’s “comfortable, welcoming and conveys a message of peace and hope to children who are victims of sexual assault,” the county says.

• It’s estimated that Californians toss out or flush $100 million worth of unused Rx meds into our landfills and waterways. Four years ago, Supervisor Joseph Simitian, then in the State Senate, introduced a bill that became law allowing healthcare providers to recycle unused medication. The county saved $80,000 because of that law in 2012. Now, supervisors, including Simitian, will consider entering into a $950,000, five-year contract with a vendor to manage the recycling effort, which is projected to save the county another $1.3 million over the next several years by cutting the need to buy as many drugs.

• Supervisors will consider posting “no stopping anytime” signs on winding two-lane portions of Stevens Canyon Road in Cupertino. Right now, cars parked on the shoulder get in the way of bicyclists and pedestrians. The no-parking-anytime rule would apply to a stretch from Montebello Road by the Stevens Creek Reservoir to the northern Cupertino city limit.

• Judy Rickard, author of “Torn Apart: United by Love, Divided by Law” will be commended for her immigration reform advocacy work. The LGBT rights and immigration reform activist writes in her book about her struggle to bring her partner to the U.S., even though immigration and federal marriage laws prevent that.

• For some crimes, victims can ask for restitution payments from the state. Supervisors will consider renewing the local Criminal Restitution Program contract for another three years at $293,145 a year. Victims need to file a claim through the District Attorney’s Office to be eligible.

WHAT: Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors meet
WHEN: 9am Tuesday
WHERE: County Government Offices, 70 W. Hedding St., San Jose
INFO: 408.299.4001

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

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