New Urban Village Development Threatens to Displace San Jose’s 60-Year-Old Berryessa Flea

Donelia Duarte fled Guatemala in the wake of its quarter-century civil war to escape poverty and violence that claimed the lives of loved ones. It was 1996, the year of her native country’s peace accord, when she began her pursuit of the American Dream.

“I came here alone,” she recounts in Spanish. “I came here with nothing.”

From nothing, she built enough to scrape by. From subsistence, she built enough to become her own boss as a jewelry vendor at San Jose’s Berryessa Flea Market. From that business, Duarte went on to support not only her own family, but nine others back in her homeland and her husband’s hometown in El Salvador.

“This gave me the strength to start over again,” the 59-year-old says, motioning toward the sparkling wares at one of a few stalls she rents at the open-air market.

It paid for a house and a car and a comfortable life.

When she fell sick with cancer, it funded her treatment. When her daughter had kids, it offered a legacy to share with a new generation.

The concentric circles of impact extend in similar ways for countless others at The Flea, known as La Pulga by its largely Latinx vendors and patrons.

At a nearby stall adorned with brightly embroidered tunics and purses, 52-year-old Maria Lourdes employs six people, each with their own families to support. After a bout with the coronavirus sent her to the hospital for five days, she says the business became her only means of paying down the $50,000 she now owes in medical bills.

Just a quick walk away, Daniel Ramirez, 38, staffs a booth that puts food on the table for his immigrant parents, 37-year-old wife Maria Campos and their four kids—in addition to the artisans who make the woven-leather chanclas, belts and cotton dresses sourced from rural villages in Mexico. Ramirez, who named his business Rampos MX, a portmanteau of his and his wife’s surnames, says he feels “very grateful” for the flea market providing a place to continue working amid a job-killing pandemic.

The market’s Asian and Middle Eastern sellers share similar stories, recounting how livelihoods intertwine with friends, family and wholesale suppliers from the South Bay to Vietnam, India, China and other far-flung corners of the world.

There’s no official measure of the market’s economic footprint, but rough estimates suggest it’s one of the key drivers of immigrant entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley.

Of the 750 or so who sell their wares at the Berryessa Flea, many employ a few to five workers in addition to family. For undocumented workers who might otherwise labor away for low-wage under-the-table cash, the market offers an increasingly rare shot at upward mobility. An untold number—untold because no one has yet made the effort to track it—grew into some of East Side’s marquee brick-and-mortar businesses, including the Shoe Palace, Ramos Furniture and Calderon Tires.

In the 60 years since the late George Bumb Sr. founded the Berryessa Flea as a humble swap meet, the market evolved into one of the most significant cultural and commercial centers in Silicon Valley, and one of the nation’s largest ongoing outdoor markets.

Effectively, it’s a business incubator that’s pumped fortunes into the local economy and public coffers. It’s a launchpad for startups of the blue-collar variety. It’s a bridge that leads first-generation immigrants out of poverty. It’s also a tourist attraction, whose bargains, beer and singular spectacle draw as many as four million visitors a year to a city with relatively few sights to see compared to other metropolitan destinations.

But La Pulga’s historical and commercial import may not be enough to secure its future.

FAMILY MATTERS: Karla Coyoc (left) says her flea market stand has provided a lifeline for her family, but that a forced move—absent financial assistance—would put her out of business. (Photo by Jennifer Wadsworth)

An Urban Vision

Plans 20 years in the making to bring 3,450 homes and 3.4 million square feet of commercial space to the 120-acre property are approaching an important milestone.

Come May, the City Council expects to vote on rezoning the flea market to pave way for a $2.5 billion development pitched as a crowning glory to San Jose’s Berryessa BART Urban Village, a blueprint for the dense, transit-centered development needed to reduce the city’s carbon footprint.

Conspicuously absent from the vision laid out in hundreds of pages of planning documents and glossy visual renderings, however, is the Berryessa Flea.

With the market at risk of being displaced out of existence, sellers are organizing.

The Berryessa Flea Market Vendors Association—a nascent advocacy group that aims to do for La Pulga what the San Jose Downtown Association does for the city’s core—posted an online petition demanding more say in the fate of the property.

By Tuesday, nearly 5,800 people had signed their name to the drive, which also calls for relocation payments should the market close and research on ways to keep it up and running in some form or another.

“We’re the primary stakeholders and we’re not getting the consideration of the city or the landowners,” says Roberto Gonzalez, a 29-year-old cofounder of the vendors association. “We’re just trying to fight for what’s fair.”

AMERICAN DREAM: Donelia Duarte says her jewelry stand at the Berryessa Flea gave her a new lease on life after fleeing violence in her home country. (Photo by Jennifer Wadsworth)

It’s a familiar fight for his father, 56-year-old Rigoberto Gonzalez, who began vending at the Berryessa Flea after emigrating from a suburb outside Mexico City in the early 1990s.

“We learned a long time ago that we basically have no rights” he says on a recent morning from his stall, where he sells chili-spiced Mexican candy and piñatas.

When the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) began the process of extending BART from Fremont to San Jose in the early 2000s, the Bumb family hired a consultant to draw up plans to densify the flea market site. With apparently little input from vendors, the city granted the Bumbs’ initial rezoning request in 2002 and a revised proposal five years later.

Brian Bumb, a co-owner, expressed hopes at the time of finding a new home for the market, which had become as much a community legacy as his family’s tradition.

The elder Gonzalez says many vendors were taken aback after learning about the plans from newspaper articles instead of the market owners. “A lot of people, a lot of us, we got depressed,” he says. “We got very angry.”

Amid pressure from vendors, the council voted to explore an alternate side and relocation benefits. Not much came of that promise. Time passed. The uproar simmered down.

Over the ensuing 14 years, various pieces of urban village development sprang up around the market. New condos and a shopping center replaced parking lots across from La Pulga on the north side of Berryessa Road. The vendor count shrank as the Bumb family carved out more of the market for parking and leased some of the lot to Amazon.

In 2018, the city revived community outreach about the market’s development. Though landowners and city officials say they gave folks plenty of notice about the outreach, many vendors say they had no idea the plans had picked up that kind of momentum.

“Nothing was really resolved, but it felt like things went back to normal for a while,” says Kaled Escobedo Vega, 21, a vendor association cofounder whose family’s flea market stall helped send her to UC Santa Cruz. “Until last December.”

“That’s when I first heard about it, when a lot of us first heard about it for the first time in, like, 10 years. Then we were like, ‘Here we go again.’”

On March 24, the Planning Commission voted 6-1—with Pierluigi Oliverio dissenting—to study whether a “community benefits” deal could resolve the matter. Since there’s a limit to the city’s enforcement powers, commissioners urged the market owners to work something out with vendors before the advisory committee revisits the matter on May 12.

Erik Schoennauer, a land-use lobbyist representing the Bumb family, says he’s setting up meetings with vendors to get those talks going. Despite rumors suggesting imminent closure, he adds, there’s “plenty of time” to work out a solution and that vendors will get a year’s notice before having to move.

And despite suggestions to the contrary, he says it should be noted that the owners have an interest in sustaining the market, too. “Nothing’s going to happen anytime soon,” he says. “The flea market is open for business.”

While he speaks with vendors about how to prepare for changes on the horizon, he says local governments should start thinking about their role in protecting the market.

“We do need the city or county to step up,” he says in a recent phone call with San Jose Inside. “Because the flea market can’t afford to exist on market-rate land—the rents vendors pay to operate just don’t support that.”

What would help, Schoennauer proceeds to say, is “a public-private partnership” to maintain the market in some shape or form.

LAST STAND: Arajo Cayetano, 65, and his wife Carmen Cayetano have run the fruits, nuts and snacks stand at the Berryessa Flea with his wife for upward of three decades. (Photo by Jennifer Wadsworth)

Trash to Riches

The Berryessa Flea Market began as a sort of side-hustle.

Enough people were paying George Bumb Sr. for the privilege of picking through his landfill that he thought he’d capitalize on the demand by starting a swap meet.

Inspired by profit potential as much as his travels to the Saint-Ouen rag-and-bone market on the outskirts of Paris and trade fairs on the suburban fringes of Los Angeles, the serial entrepreneur transformed the 120-acre site of an old meat-processing plant into what eventually became known as La Pulga.

On opening day, George Sr. and his business partners Joe Kokes and Larry Headrick welcomed about 20 sellers and 100 bargain hunters.

A July 3, 1960, article in the San Jose Mercury News described the scene: “The former cattle feed lot’s vast spaces of asphalt paving has been cleared of most stalls to make way for a modern-day buy-sell-trade fair …”

By 1966, the market’s 1.5 million annual visitors and multimillion-dollar revenue stream led San Jose to cash in on the tax stream by annexing the site into the city proper.

The market expanded through 1980, when it raked in a record $12 million in revenue from more than 2,400 vendors and four million visitors, according to a report commissioned by the city in 2007 to evaluate the site’s historical significance. The Bumbs employed 500 people to help with parking, clean-up, security and concessions. For a time, the market became Anheuser-Busch’s top account, selling up to 250 kegs worth of beer on busy days, and the fifth-largest purchaser of Coca-Cola products.

People drove from hours away to enjoy La Pulga’s pony rides, $1-a-head helicopter tours (inspired by the late George Sr.’s aviation hobby), carousel, slides, karaoke, mariachi and other forms of live entertainment.

The now-15-year-old analysis by four historians described the Berryessa Flea as “unique,” “a premier open market that remains one of the largest and most successful” of the 5,000 others scattered throughout the U.S. and “a major commercial center for the region.” Only Disney and Universal Studios draw more annual visitors, the report noted.

George Sr.’s flea market emerged during a nationwide boom in outdoor sellers fairs and auctions, which cropped up by the thousands during the latter half of the last century at drive-in movie theaters, stadium parking lots and school campuses.

They assumed a wide variety of operational structures, with some managed by private owners like the Bumbs and others run by chambers of commerce, educational institutions, nonprofits, vendor associations or local governments.

Though architecturally indistinct with its mixture of vernacular structures and sprawling asphalt parking lots, the Berryessa Flea Market marks a “significant contribution to the broad patterns of local and regional history,” the analysts wrote in the city’s 2007 report, by allowing “a distinctive economic and social culture to flourish in San Jose.” As such, they concluded, it merits further research and preservation, whether by incorporating its defining elements into new development or finding another site altogether.

For a hub of commerce and culture that historians cast as so connected to so many lives and livelihoods, the city has done surprisingly little since that report to explore either option. Now, urban planning nonprofit Catalyze SV is calling for essentially the same thing. In an email to city officials and supporters last week, the group called it unfortunate that the urban village plan fails to consider how the flea market—“a huge benefit to our community”—could be preserved or “reimagined.”

Escobedo-Vega was 7 years old when the historical study came out in the wake of the updated zoning allowance. She says she remembers how much anxiety the development proposal caused her parents, who joined other vendors in questioning why the fate of their family businesses should rest in the hands of private property owners and why the city or some other public entity couldn’t do more to intervene.

A similar conversation would arise years later when the region’s skyrocketing land costs threatened to displace thousands of people who owned mobile homes but not the land beneath them. In response to demands from at-risk residents, the City Council in 2015 enacted a moratorium on mobile home park conversions. The city has offered no such protection for vulnerable businesses.

“We’ve been asking for answers and asking for help for 15 years—from the owners, from the city,” Escobedo-Vega says. “But we’re still in this gray area, which is not OK.”

GRAND PLANS: Landowners want to turn the North Side flea market into a model for dense, sustainable development. (Rendering by Kenneth Rodriguez & Partners, Inc.)

A New Lens

In many respects, history seems to be repeating itself.

As in the late aughts, vendors speaking up about the latest advances in the Berryessa urban village proposal are imploring the city to prevent displacement and gentrification. They’re again decrying a public outreach effort seemingly hampered by language barriers and mixed messages. They’re again asking for a seat at the table.

Jesus Flores, 53, the founding president of Latino Business Foundation Silicon Valley, says he sees at least one meaningful difference this time.

The national reckoning over racial justice sparked by the George Floyd protests prompted cities throughout the U.S.—including San Jose—to apply a “racial equity lens” to every aspect of governance, he notes. “All of a sudden, all these people were talking about equity, equity, equity,” he says. “You started to hear that word everywhere.”

That professed commitment to equity by local leaders gives the public a new standard by which to hold them accountable, Flores notes. To that end, the East Side business owner cosigned a letter with Latinos United for a New America (LUNA) Treasurer Chava Bustamante and veteran vendor advocate Chris Lepe urging the city to reconsider the market’s potential displacement as an equity issue.

“In order to create a win-win for developers and the community,” they write, “it is essential that the city go above and beyond the legal minimum requirements and devote the kind of attention, initiative, creativity, strategies and resources typically put forth to attract major events and major corporations to town.”

The letter goes on to call the flea market’s potential displacement “an issue of institutional racism” and a prime example of the city needing to walk the talk on racial justice in planning future development.

“What were the equity goals and outcomes of the plan and project?” Flores, Bustamante and Lepe ask in the 21-page communique to city leaders. “Equity is not mentioned at all in either staff report. If a proposal of this sort were proposed on Lincoln Avenue in Willow Glen, would this be the city’s response to displacement of the businesses there? Would such a proposal even be allowed? Would the city be so quick to claim that they have no power or responsibility to address the displacement?”

Merchants deserve better than just a one-year heads up before their ouster, they add. And the city will have to do better than convening an Office of Racial Equity to build trust with marginalized communities.

“At the very least, the city should give them relocation assistance,” Flores suggests.

The bigger aim, he continues, is for local governments to provide resources proportional to the needs and contributions of such a sizable share of the local economy. Of the 55,000 small businesses recorded by San Jose’s Office of Economic Development, more than half are owned by immigrants and more than 60 percent by people of color—demographics disproportionately bypassed by government service and subsidies.

Last year, Flores, through his foundation, teamed up with the city to analyze the business needs of San Jose’s East Side. Officials obliged, conducting a pair of surveys, one of which confirmed Flores’ suspicion that micro-businesses—those with fewer than five employees—were less likely to access the Paycheck Protection Program, a federal subsidy to keep workers employed during pandemic-related shutdowns.

Results from the second survey have yet to be published.

But Flores says preliminary findings show that a larger-than-previously-known portion of East Side businesses are owned by undocumented entrepreneurs and single moms, groups far less likely to access or qualify for public help. Flores says he hopes more accurate data will translate to more targeted service.

Several members of the Berryessa vendor association call San Jose’s branding as the Capital of Silicon Valley misleading, saying it obscures the small-time blue-collar entrepreneurship that, according to the city, comprises 43 percent of its jobs and 97 percent of its active businesses.

“When the city thinks of business owners, I doubt they’re thinking of me,” says Mariana Mejia, 19, who took after her parents by launching a flea market venture of her own earlier this year. “I doubt they’re thinking of vendors as startups. But that’s what we are.”

IF THE SHOE FITS: Rampos MX owners Daniel Ramirez and Maria Campos say they feel grateful to the Berryessa Flea Market for providing the opportunity to work and provide jobs for others during the pandemic. (Photo by Jennifer Wadsworth)

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


  1. Why is this a surprise?

    San Jose leadership hates small business, they hate the American Dream, they hate the nuclear family, they hate property rights, and they hate America, or what they call white supremist systemic racism designed by the Enlightenment to perpetuate slavery and the destruction of black and brown bodies.

    Why would they not consistently act to destroy the things they hate with the unchecked power they have?

    If you are a small business person, move out. I am not speaking in hyperbole. In 1996, the bay area was a libertarian utopia, now it is the Woke Religion’s Neo Mecca. This is not the place you escaped from Marxism to find freedom anymore, look around, listen to what they say and read what they write, they equate freedom with racism.

    They truly Believe they what’s better for everyone even if you disagree and they will force it down your throat and de-platform dissent. And when your life is worse off, like stuck in a overcrowded rent control apartment farm passing COVID, or evicted due to causa justa, or in 12 month rent debt, or a 30 minute 911 wait due to defunding the police, or your kids failing out of school or being dumbed down because “expectations” are racist, they will have already moved on to fix something else that they resent.

    And Ms. Wadsworth is one of their High Priestess, a maker and breaker of San Jose’s most powerful (with uncanny access to just the right amount of inside information to destroy her friend’s enemies) and bully ridiculer of anyone she deems useful to continue her narrative. Just read award winning work from the past decade.

    “The concentric circles of impact extend in similar ways for countless others at The Flea, known as La Pulga by its largely Latinx vendors and patrons.”

    Can she write?

    Sure, off the charts.

    Is she right?

  2. Jen,

    You can’t talk about George Bumb Sr. without talking about his misogynist views on the world, and the general abuse that ran rampant in the family. Believe me, these folks will find new digs, but for some of the grandchildren it’s been a difficult road.

    I grew up on the same street with the majority of his grandchildren. I saw first hand how the man isolated his grandkids from society. They went to school on the flea market grounds, they went to their own private church on Mount Hamilton. They could only be friends with people the family approved of. I can’t speak of his other sons so much, but certainly George Bumb Jr. was a jerk and carried much of his fathers narrow views on the world.

    Women were for strategic marrying, and making babies. Granddaughters were expected to conduct themselves in a morally acceptable manner. If they didn’t tow that line, they were beaten, with belts. Belittled, and shamed. At worse, kicked out and cut out from the family.

    George Jr. also harassed people by proxy. One of his daughters fiancés would get violent with whoever George Jr. told him to.

    When Jr. died, I remember seeing a picture of all the kids together, shot glasses raised at his wake. It seemed more a celebration than a somber moment. I had no doubt in my mind that these kids were happy he was gone.

    Maybe the same needs to be said for the Berryessa Flea Market. I have no doubt there’s some bad memories there for the kids. It’s one of those things I’d have no regrets about losing in San Jose. I had my fun there growing up, but it’s a monument to a family that treated their own like crap. Let it get bulldozed, there’s other places these folks can peddle their wares. Maybe some new blood can find some happiness on it.

  3. This is hardly news, nor any kind of surprise.

    This has been expected someday, not only obviously(!) anticipated. Obviously(!)

    “Latinx” [sic]? Seriously?

    Old days, unseemly might be a fake ID. Now? I’m surprised by low gang violence.

  4. The Pulga™, a civic institution and thriving hub of humanity in the city’s
    storied ethnic enclave

  5. Jenn, Thanks for this article and for always, without fail, telling the story of everyone involved. And for using “portmanteau.” I love you for that.

  6. The Bumb’s have squeezed every dollar out of the Vendors and the folks going to the Flea Market.
    They have their own Gambling enterprise at Bay 101, Premium Pet Stores. Now more for the Billionaire Bumb’s development of the land where folks used to race go-carts.

  7. Sounds like the interests of our “underserved community” take a back seat to those of the developers and politicians who have a “housing crisis” to solve.

  8. Why does she owe $50,000 medical bills for COVID illnesses. The healthcare providers receive a 25% premium from the Government for treating COVID patients.

    Then, oh great more congestion and overcrowding.

  9. One has to wonder how many of the comments come from people who have ever been to the Berryessa Flea Market, let alone have any vested interest in the numbers of people who have depended on their income from running small businesses there? Easy for people to make comments about “progress” when it really has little effect on their personal lives.

  10. I am more inclined to care more about people who have jobs than for developers who want to displace them. Where are the Council members who claim to “be there for our community”? Time, snd their votes, will tell.

  11. I can’t speak to the character of the owner, but I would hate to see ANYTHING that is fairly unique, like the Flea Market is, disappear from what is becoming more and more homogenous sprawl. And heaven help us with all the high density housing that is only going to lead to more insane traffic.

  12. My family used to go to the Berryessa Flea Market back in the late 70s and into the 80s. Calling it unique is an understatement, for sure. This well written article (again, by Jen, thank you!) shows that this is really about the people and families that leveraged la pulga to earn a decent living. It’s not about the owners or former owners and how crappy they may be or might have been. I would hate to see this institution go, if not because of nostalgia then for the families who are still making a living from it.

    One thing that hasn’t so far been mentioned is, what about the fairgrounds as an alternative? I visited the SCC fairgrounds in Jan and Feb of this year, taking my mom there for her two covid shots. It was sad to see that it’s barely much of anything anymore. But the one thing it does have is lots and lots of space. It might be bigger than the Pulga site, and from what I can tell, it’s not being used for much of anything. The county already owns the land, has its own security (hey there, Laurie Smith!) and could easily pave over 10 or 15 acres, set up some simple wood frame buildings and move the vendors there. The county might even bring in some extra revenue while they’re at it. Oh, and plenty of parking, right across the street (just like at La Pulga!).

  13. Un Gran Mercado, Una Gran Historia

    Thanks to Ms. Wadsworth for the nuanced and historically deep reportage on El Mercado de Pulgas. It is truly one of San Jose’s hidden gems, lying in plain sight for those who can see and want to see. Until reading this piece, it had never occurred to me that El Mercado has been a pretty successful do-it-yourself small business incubator without any public funding for a couple of generations. It has always been a low-cost and easily accessible way for relatively poor families–including immigrants–to sustain themselves through wholesale and retail commerce and food stalls.

    While I hadn’t been there for many years, I remembered the place for its Old World feel with market stall after market stall selling neatly stacked merchandise and produce, most of it imported from the four corners of the Earth. In 2019-2020, I was one of a few hundred volunteers for the Bernie Sanders campaign in Santa Clara County. In the half-year prior to the March 2020 California primary election, local supporters rented space at the Mercado on a series of weekends to promote Sanders and register voters. It was and is an ideal place to reach the Hispanic working class (both native and immigrant) from across our region and stall rental rates, for a mostly volunteer campaign, were low enough to cost effectively allow us to reach thousands.

    During those months, I had the opportunity to reacquaint myself with the Mercado and, more importantly, to interact with vendors, workers and visitors on numerous days and for hours at a time. In addition to the predominant Hispanics, there are vendors, visitors and employees from South Asia, the Philippines, Iran, Arab countries and others. The vendors and their employees are among the friendliest, most helpful and most generous you’ll find around here, especialmente si hablas el espanol. A number of food vendors regularly donated food to our volunteers and both the Hispanic and Filipino workers at the market indicated strong support for Sanders.

    Among the hundreds of visitors our campaign interacted with on any given day, a very large share had come from outside the County, some as far away as Brooklyn, as I recall. That place draws massive crowds from neighboring and distant counties like nothing else I’ve seen in San Jose. Santana Row pales in comparison to El Mercado’s “tourist” draw. What a disaster it would be for San Jose to lose such a heaping slice of its cultural (and commercial) life via gentrification and displacement.

  14. The minute Bart was coming to San Jose was the day that the flea market was on terminal life support. It’s a crazy under utilization of land to have a flea market on a huge empty lot next to a BART station.

  15. Walmart and Amazon have too much power and influence on the world. The San Jose Flea market is a wonderful alternative to the clinical process that is the big box experience or the personality that is as one dimensional as clicking a button. I have lived here all of my life and I have been going to the Flea market all of my life and now I take my children there. I’m not Latino. I’m American with a Japanese last name and I love all of the cultural mixing that the Flea Market has to offer. The flea market is not just a market place. It’s entertainment. From mariachi bands to people watching to seeing the weird wonderful items for sale, produce or even seeing what happens when people want to empty their garage. San Jose will be loosing out when we loose the San Jose Flea market.

  16. You know that most of the politicians, business leaders, and tech not involved with this site have contempt for the Flea Market, anyway. They want new, taller stuff.

    (And it’s the Flea Market, as residents have called it for years, “San Jose Flea Market” by other Bay Area people. Anglos who would say “the Flea”? Where?)

  17. !Viva la Pulga!

    I wholeheartedly support SCC Resident’s suggestion that the County (or the City) take on the responsibility of providing an alternative venue for this historically, culturally and economically vital institution. Using part of the Fairgrounds–County-owned land–or City-owned land sounds like an excellent idea as this would give either authority a source of significant income, maintain and foster several thousand vendor jobs and hundreds of Flea Market jobs, and reduce the costs to upstart and start-up small businesses.

    Do you know what those Bumbs are charging small business people–mainly Hispanics/Latinos–in rents for Mercado de Pulgas space? On a monthly basis, the average-sized space available is 320 square feet with an average monthly rent, including the fee for electricity, of $696 (

    The La Pulga has a surface area of 120 acres in total, of which 16 acres is given to car parking (that brings in its own separate stream of rental income. See That leaves about 104 acres for vendor activity. To be safe, let’s assume that four more acres are needed for common spaces in the Mercado, leaving a net of 100 acres for rentals to vendors.

    Assuming that on a typical acre of vendor land, vendor space occupies half the surface area and visitor walking and service road area occupies the other half, then each vendor acre would bring in an average of $47,865 in monthly rental income. By extension, 100 vendor acres would yield about $4.7 million per month and about $57.7 million in annual rental income before expenses.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has perhaps permanently altered the relative values of various types of real estate. Commercial and retail property, in particular, has been hit hard and is not expected to fully recover. This includes shopping malls which are rather large affairs (; This also means that City property tax and sales tax revenues from such property will be on the decline.

    So the City (or County) may be able to call in the many favors they have lavished on developers of such centers in the past half-century and/or use eminent domain to cheaply secure one or another of such centers for use as alternate venue for La Pulga. Some possible candidates:

    1. Eastridge Mall (113 acres)

    2. Great Mall (103 acres) 2014/042314/ph_01.pdf

    3. Valley Fair Mall (70 acres) (

    4. The Plant (55 acres) (

    5. Westgate Mall (44 acres) (

    6. Oakridge Mall (29 acres) (

    On the other hand the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds has 167,000 square feet under roof (3.8 acres), 20 acres of lawn and paved outdoor space and 40 acres of parking for a total 63.8 acres (

    Places and possibilities to think about.

  18. Mr. Before

    I think its interesting how this dovetails into Urban Growth Boundaries enabling TODs, and road and bike lane development. Basically the city caps roads and development in favor of transit, BART gets selected to be next to one of the few ways for non-tech immigrants to hustle some wealth, TOD ensues and small business people get displaced by tech workers. I looked at Milpitas Station (Light Rail+ BART + Buses cross connect) and a SFH is $1M plus with condos $700K+.

    The poor will be taking BART into the Great Mall, not living the sunny TOD Urban Village lifestyle. The poor will be waiting for a bus to get to the eBART Antioch station, then waiting for eBART, then waiting for BART in Pittsburg, then waiting for BART in MacArthur, then waiting for light rail in Milpitas or a bus at Milpitas or Berryessa. Maybe they can ride their bike from Milpitas to their job in Santana Row? I’m sure that is a good use of bike lanes and there will be many takers.

    I guess all these people are smarter than me, cause I can’t see equity in that.

  19. Mr. Kulak,

    Capping roads work in favor of transit feeds and grows government. In theory it also introduces the potential, at least, for more influence peddling and seeking..

    Antioch has been one example of a city for farther-away commuters, but many have gone into the Central Valley proper, now gaining the newer moniker “super-commuters.” Tracy was the original city where people moved for more housing with their money in the late 1970s and early 1980s onward. Then it was Manteca, etc. These days it reaches as far as Stockton (or Davis along that other corridor), when not farther. That’s where the following article gets made available again here. (Below) Just substitute San Jose for San Francisco, as San Jose wants to be a Real City with a Real Subway and have Big Employers (though it’s overwhelmingly housing and still wants more housing, too).

    Watch so much of life go by from the trains.

  20. I’m not surprised there isn’t at least one heliport known to be planned by Google for its Diridon Station area “village.” Chinook 234s could replace buses from and to S.F. They could also be of use just between Diridon, Moffett, and other GoogSites™. (Their own private elevated monorails that allow Google bikes to be carried aboard first requires other cities than San Jose also to agree. Plus it is an original construction expense not to be recouped if the company change its mind or leaves later. It could be sold in part to the city, or county, though. Maybe San Jose could ask Google to build such a thing to the airport from Diridon or next to it.)

  21. It’s the Flea Market or the San Jose Flea Market – where did get this overly pretentious term “Berryessa Flea”? Sounds like a phony made up name – just like Latinx which is not a real word or term at all.

  22. I recently rode Bart from the berryesa station. I was surprised to see no one else on the platform. It was a little surreal. Billions of dollars spent and no one rides the trains. Then, i notice adjacent to the station the flea market. Why is it still open for business. I think the city would want to plan accordingly and get as much as possible out of the surrounding neighborhood. It makes sense to me to build as dense as possible. I would expect to see highrises on the flea market site to start going up tomorrow. Also it would help build a semblance of a city. San Jose needs to start looking like a big city instead of the suburban mess it is. Along the way provide a lot more housing. Everyone knows how badly it’s needed. The vendors can move to any empty lot. I’m sure they can find one

Leave a Reply

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