San Jose Development 101

There are a number of critical decisions in the planning and development area that will be decided in the last year and a half of the Ron Gonzales’ administration.  Much has been written – including a blog by Councilman Dave Cortese yesterday – on the long term implications of growth in Evergreen.  It has been the area of tremendous action and political pressure in San Jose going back to the seventies.  Remember Willie Sutton’s comments on why he robbed banks.

A disquieting note of late is the Council’s strange snatching of defeat from the jaws of consensus in the long neighborhood effort to monitor Evergreen growth and make it provide for community needs under the tutelage of Cortese and the Planning Department. Add to that the recent hiring of a rogues’ gallery of consultants and advisors to assist the developers in getting their case across and you have fuel for many a conspiracy theory. Many of these lobbyists were the subject of the recent ethics debate centering on registration for public scrutiny. Given that this hiring happened and greatly angered Cortese and that he pledged not to speak to these characters, and the timing of the grab of this meaty development asset away from him looks more than a bit suspicious.

The development game in San Jose is not confined to Evergreen, there are multi-billion dollar decisions being made in the Coyote Valley as we go to print, as well as in Downtown and North San Jose – the cash cow of the City’s redevelopment efforts. The roads taken will have long term impacts on each and every citizen in this Valley for generations to come. Only the most dutiful analysis and the continued interest of the press and public will be an antidote to the planning and decision making behind closed doors that has been a hallmark of recent years.  A friend of mine commented recently that if only all the secrecy and attempted agenda control had produced more long term successes and benefits to our citizens it would be more bearable. That has not been the case. I guess that happens only in fiction.

As a wise man once advised, “follow the money.” Willie Sutton always did.


  1. Perhaps Mr. Rowen could reveal the results of his in-depth investigation into the conspiracy involving the Councilmembers he mentions. Perhpas he could reveal the voluminous facts he has uncovered, or maybe he could just continue to lob vague charges with no factual basis. Maybe he could be quiet if he has nothing of substance to go with these inuendos.

  2. Tom,

    You are surprised?  I guess I’m old enough to be stoically cynical about the whole thing.  There is, as has been said,  a hidden agenda working here and I wonder where the unbrage and outrage are.

    In your day, the Mercury used to be some sort of a watchdog and kept you on the straight and narrow and routinely blasted wayward councilmembers, but I guess they’re going soft too.

    Remember, when someone says it ain’t about the money, IT’S ABOUT THE MONEY.

  3. Although the likely recommendations of the Evergreen task force should provoke a larger discussion about the future of Evergreen, the actions of the mayor and his lackey should provoke widespread citizen outrage. This mayor values citizen input only when it agrees with him. This has been evident time and time again, whether it be a task force or a city appointed commission. We can gripe about it on this blog but until the larger citizenry starts paying attention, this kind of back-room thuggery will continue.

  4. let me tell you then. The mayor is trying to push through any and all he can because he’s finally and thank God done. Done for good because his political career is over: he wasted valuable money and time. So here were are with all these pell mell projects pending approval or approved without much or any public input. That’s why many of these projects / plans will be reviewed.

  5. I agree with Rick.  If there’s no outrage in the community over the way Gonzo and his lap-dog council are doing things, nothing is going to change.  It’s definitely time for a clean sweep and we need to get outsiders elected to stop this process but that’s not going to happen if the electorate isn’t fired up over the current situation at City Hall.
    An outsider mayor on roller skates isn’t looking too bad these days.  It would maybe get this town some recognition.  Good, bad or otherwise, a little recognition is better than none at all.

  6. Whatever happened to the “recall Ron Gonzales” campaign?  Were I a San Josen and not a Santa Cruz resident running a transit advocacy/watchdog group, that would be first thing I would revive.

    Are City Council meetings packed with angry citizens or do they have mostly staffers in attendence?  If the latter is the case, think of every empty seat as an open letter to Ron and the pliant City Council members that says “Please waste my tax dollars on your pet projects and agendas.  I don’t want to be a part of the process.” 

    Such an attitude must change amongst the electorate NOW.  The same holds true for school boards, the VTA, and any other government agency in the Valley funded by our tax dollars.  When encountering someone who chooses silence instead of action, always ask, “What would have to happen to get you involved in any way?”

    Remember a common slogan of the AIDS movement: “SILENCE = DEATH” – in this case, the death of the heart, soul, and spirit of San Jose.  Think about it…

  7. Eugene,

    Almost everybody I know who got “involved” in the process in San Jose attending community meetings, speaking their two minutes before the council, writing letters etc… has usually become depressed with the way things work here in San Jose.  I know many who have vowed never to waste that much time again.

    You can imagine how all those on Mr. Cortese’s committee are now feeling after investing so much time and effort.  What about all the effort that went into the strong neighborhood initiatives but now there is no money.  People are smart enough here in the valley to know what is a productive use of their time. 

    The time when a small group of residents could get involved and have an impact has past.  Unless you are part of a group with great financial resources and the ability to engage councilmembers on in all districts, your voice will not be heard.


  8. I have to commend Jude, Tom, John, and others for developing this blog.  It is also very important to allow people to post using pen names as there are circumstances where people should have the protection of this privacy.

    Now, “Inquisitor,”  you are chastising me for not reaping volumes of documents on the blog, and you are hiding behind a cheezy nom de plume. What gall!!  You are not not seeking to tip us on matter of concern, you are just a little dweeby person with no nerve, and you even have the nerve to tell me to refrain from speaking my mind.

    KB Homes is destroying the cultural fabric of the cannery site.  Larry Stone may have a lot of opinions I dislike, but he has vision, guts, and sincereity to back stadium proposals for this site.  KB Homes wants the site for homes that people around the country hate.

    They wrote some checks to city council members who will not own up to it, while they let the cannery site, a part of our history go away.

    Gee, and we can’t thanks to Captain DweebMan, mention that we think city councilmembers who want money, money, money, for KB Homes, ought to abstain.

    Rom Gonzales says and does a lot of things, but he has guts, brains, and a strong desire to stand for what he wants.  Then there is you!

  9. Steve, I couldn’t agree more.

    After attending/watching how it works, it seems more like the dog and pony shows at the circus used as a distraction while the guy with the shovel foolows the elephants.

    To add insult to injury, there is a proposal by the Willow Glen Business Improvement District to increase the ‘annual assesments’
    from $120 to $275, not including the annual/mandatory $125 assessed for operating a small business.

    So now, not only are we not heard, we ( small business owners) may have to pay MORE to be ignored.

    Hey, Eugene! How much is a business license in Santa Cruz? In Santa Clara its only $35 and that town owns their own Power Company.

    See ya

  10. “Ooh”, he said, as the harsh tirade struck him like the scattered showers in the forecast. He reeled under the the barrage for daring to request facts rather than inuendo. As he regained his footing, he said,” Gee, all that and still nothing of substance.”

  11. This valley’s future as strip mall capital of the world is secure.  Nothing short of a 1906 style earthquake will change that.

    The only thing left to do is to buy a slurpee and give our strip malls a hug – for they are our future. 

    The first step is to change the city’s “Smart Growth” moniker to “Smart Strip Malls”.

    Example of “Smart Strip Malls”?  Creating partnerships between strip malls and our schools so that the kids that graduate will have the inside track for jobs at our local strip malls.

  12. Gee, you have, yon apologist for KB Homes, and timid poster, not even acknowledged the campaign contributions, those are given to everyone?

    Diaz needs a check

  13. Tom, the three foot guy over there with the yelllow covered hat, pulling the cuff of your right leg, is asking in a dweeby voice, “where’s your substantive, proof, Mr. McEnerwwwy?  Do it now, or my big brwwother is going tell you to stop posting.”

    He is the KB Homes Director of 3 cent nails, where there are galvanized ones being required.

  14. Hey I Heart Strip Malls,

    How locusts instead of an earthquake; San Jose’s lack of imagination and style is unfortunately on par with the sad state of TV programming. 

    And Inquisitor…. Quit poking that thing with a stick and it hopefully crawl away

  15. They have these things called checks, and they are made out for 250.00 to council campaigns, they have these things called reports, they file them every quarter.  Gee willikers, you mean when they contribute to the Yeager, Reed, and Lezotte find, it never happened????

    Tom McEnery also uses his real name.  Those people on the KB Home Sucks website, they don’t really exist???

    wow, am I wrong, Jerry!

    Hey, Inquistor, you going to do a newspaper at the end of the campaign with real employees with real uniforms, this time?

  16. Oh, yeah, and now they’ve decided they’ll charge for parking in the normally free lots downtown on the weekend of the Champ car race.  Don’t even think about them ever removing the parking meters if this is the approach they’re taking on events that draw crowds downtown.
    What a miserable bunch they are.

  17. So, Rich,

    The fact that KB Homes gave money to council members who will not know disclose that is something that is not really a fact to comment about.


    sort of read that in the stuff about Ash and Gillmor that was put out there,

    but times change

  18. Sacks, thanks for joining in. I was beginning to think I was the only one who thought JR was getting pretty far out there. Maybe he’ll chill for awhile.

  19. I am sure it is annoying at KB Homes and the Yeager, Reed, and Lezotte offices if someone is asking if they can talk about taking money from KB Homes, voting for development, and not Del Monte.

    That is out there, isn’t it?  Terry, you could have take the vote now, and these two would have given you a pass.

  20. Gee, I am must be wrong, because I only recall one person ever discussing the Inquistor with me, it was not only a position in Spain, but I believe it was a character in the BROTHERS KARAMAZOV, and I do remember only one person I know quoting it.  That really be something to think about, wouldn’t it?

  21. There are many development decisions, and there has been no effort by Reed, Lezotte, or Yeager to clarifty their financial relationships with KB Homes.

    All of us should give all three until 5pm to clarify those relationships, and Reed has all, but confirmed the connection he has with Knight Ridder by silence, or be asked to abstain with KB Homes votes.

  22. Two things SJ does not have:

    1). A good local TV station.  Did anyone notice that the FCC approved KNTV’s application to move its transmitter site from Loma Prieta (in Santa Clara County) to Mt. San Bruno (in San Mateo County)?  So now San Jose’s only substantive tv station will essentially become a SF tv station.  It will be a SJ station in name only. 

    Prediction:  Once the new SF xmtr is on the air watch your “local” news content disappear.

    Very cagey move by NBC & GE.  They wanted a SF owned-and-operated TV and they bought one for about half-the-price and moved it to the “city”.

    2).  Question for Bob Kieve – Why don’t you dump that awful CNN Headline News format and do a local talk station on KLIV? It’s incredible that the nation’s 10th largest city does not have its own locally-oriented news/talk station. 

    You don’t have to be local 24/7 like KGO. Just give us local talk in the AM & PM drive and run some decent satellite talk shows the rest of the time. 

    All of these huge issues in SJ – the corrupt mayors office, backroom development deals, building stadiums, closing schools, etc. etc. etc. and no where for local folks to talk about any of it.

    KGO and the other SF stations don’t cut for the valley – they win by default because not one local broadcaster is willing to take them on.

    Please don’t remind of that abortive attempt at talk by KXRX nearly 30 years ago.  Different century, different time, different town.

    As an aside – a lot of folks hammer the Murky-News, but unlike the local electronic media, at least the Merc acts big-time. 

    Our local radio & tv stations have always acted “small potatoes”.  They still program their radio stations like San Jose is a small city of 250k.

    Hope I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings, but it’s jus the way I see it.


  23. I agree—Mark C’s comments are worth considering for KLIV.  I generally turn the dial when CNN comes on. I don’t want recycled local news items all day long either, so throwing some talk into the mix is a great idea.
    As for KNTV, the studios will still be in San Jose.  KTVU has studios in Oakland and their news has always kept an Oakland slant.  KNTV has tried hard not to appear to be located in SJ and for many who never tuned to channel 11 before it became NBC, it probably doesn’t appear to be a San Jose station.  But us locals know better.  When KNTV moves their transmitter, the Monterey Bay area will lose their duplicated NBC station but what have people without cable been doing for the past few years to get ABC?  They’re the real losers in this whole deal.  As for local news, I’m finding I like the people on channel 8 better than anybody in the SF market.  And are there any other natives out there who still find themselves tuning to KRON for NBC?  Nearly 50 years of a certain behavior is pretty hard to undo, I’m finding.

  24. Never said she would not, I just think if KB Homes money was spread around, that should be known, gee, did the Inquistor with all dictionaries stop posting??

    Mark C’s comment is dead on target.

    Please contact the station manager, and Mark C would get his talk show, and he is good believe in democracy for suggesting it.

  25. It’s amazing how much money and effort are being spent on trying to develop areas that may not even take: Coyote Valley, North First… Why don’t the city leaders look at the place where the private capital is putting their money – Stevens Creek Boulevard Corridor. Obviously, West San Jose is good enough for Federal Realty Investment Trust (with its Santana Row) and Westfield Co.(with its Valley Fair Shopping Town). Isn’t it time to get over the mistake of not putting Valley Fair Downtown?  There is plenty of space for office buildings along Stevens Creek Blvd, as well as there is room for improvement.  Used auto brokers that set up shop in “temporary while under construction for years” trailers and East Palo Alto looking auto repair and sound shops could be replaced by office buildings and condo developments. You can’t ask for a better location. After all, everyone in the Bay Area knows where Stevens Creek Auto Row is, and almost everyone heard of Santana Row and Valley Fair.

  26. Mark T. –

    NBC could’ve have applied to move the KNTV xmtr site across the valley to Monument Peak (above Milpitas).  That’s the location of the Ch. 36, 48 & 54 xmtrs.  Those stations (esp. 36 & 48) put gangbusters signals into SF and the rest of the bay area. 

    I stand by my original contention – the only reason to move the xmtr to SF is the eventuality of moving the entire station up there.


  27. To answer a few questions:

    Depending on what type of business and what land it’s on in Santa Cruz, business fees range from $15 to $90.

    Be advised though that lots of Santa Cruz residents are anti-business.  They just forced a hotel by the Boardwalk to not expand into a conference center that would have provided much-needed revenue to the city.  And my neighbors down in Aptos went NIMBY on a trolley rail demonstration by railroad tracks that bisect the county.  So you might want to think twice before setting up a business in Santa Cruz.

    As for my own story: I moved to Santa Cruz from Sunnyvale last June out of protest to the ongoing mismanagement of my tax dollars at VTA.  In fact, I boycott San Jose altogether for major purchases like clothes, appliances, and entertainment events.

    Those of you who want a Silicon Valley-based
    newstalk station can contact KLIV owner Robert Kieve directly and politely:

    Robert S. Kieve
    President & General Manager
    750 Story Rd.
    San Jose, CA 95122
    fax (408)293-3200

    As for parking in downtown: the free parking in downtown lots like San Fernando between first and second is a prime reason why light rail trains are empty after 7:00pm every night.  Remember: the same Cindy Chavez who sits on the VTA Board is the same Chavez who “represents” the downtown area.  Talk about undercutting the very transit ridership you are supposed to encourage…

    From what I see in San Joseans, a more thicker skin is needed to deal with how City Council has ignored you.  My group – after constant ignorance by the VTA Board over the years – is starting to make some headways. 

    In two examples, we encouraged riders of the 59 bus thru North San Jose to let VTA management know not to eliminate midday service on that route.  When VTA wanted to change the northern terminus of line 22 from Menlo Park/Palo Alto to San Antonio SC in Mountain View, several riders involved staff
    of Assemblyman Ira Ruskin, who made VTA
    continue bus service into Menlo Park.

    In other words, when it comes to dealing with government that ignores you, persistence is the key.  NEVER GIVE UP THE GOOD FIGHT!!!

  28. I’m asked:  whydon’t we dump CNN and put in some talk.  Answer:  Because we’re a news station and not a news/talk station.  And CNN does provide good coverage of national and international news.  We take our example from KCBS,  which was half talk,  half news for many years.  When it dropped the talk and went all news,  it gained audience.  We think that a community needs a full news station more than it needs a news/talk station.  And KLIV gives plenty of opportunity for opinion.  It just has to be within a 75-second period,  and we rebroadcast it—the opinion—around the clock.  Interesting to us to note how often folks ask us to change our format—and allow them to be the talk hosts.

  29. Mark C.,
    I see your point.  I thought they bought the new N. First bldg for KNTV but maybe they’re just leasing until the big move you’re suspecting.  I suppose they think that if you’re serving a new market, you need to be operating off the same mountain as everyone else who is doing likewise.  We have definitely lost our local network TV station in SJ and the coverage of local issues that went along with it, but on the bright side, we have been spared any more small town hires to fill some of the high profile positions there.  I for one don’t miss the hokey Doug & Maggie show one bit.  As I stated before, the staff at channel 8 exhibit more professionalism than 11 could ever achieve, and they serve a market where it’s OK to have a laid back approach instead of the phony polished look and tone of SF Bay Area newscasters.  Dan Green of KSBW is my favorite newscaster at this point.

  30. A great line from the Usenet BA Broadcast forum: “If a bomb goes off in San Jose KNTV quickly goes to a live shot of someone on the streets of San Francisco for comment.” 
    That’s the problem with KNTV, they’re neither here nor there…and their staff seems to be from everywhere else!

  31. To Bob Kieve,

    Thanks for your thoughtful response. Your point is well taken.  I guess this is an instance where we will “agree to disagree”. 

    While I’m not interested in hosting a SJ oriented talk show.  I’m sure that someone like Tom McEnery or one of the other regular posters to this board might be able to do a more than credible job.

    As an aside, I just checked the latest radio ratings for the San Jose area ( and noticed that KLIV has a rather low-rated .9 percent share of the market (this survey only shows audience aged 12+, and does not reflect the demographics where KLIV would look better), but a .9 is a .9 Maybe a news/talk format would score better.


  32. Hmm, working with a family with their children, tutoring a college student, also finishing three successful cases for homeowners, and just received an acceptance for a paper I have written for a group in Canada, and a thank you for a group who asked to deliver a workshop, yeah, John, I am not as productive as you are, am I?

    I guess making comments and not answering questions is hard work at the peanut gallery, isn’t it?

  33. Eugene,
    The city council is quite good at pretending to listen to it’s mild mannered citzenry for 2 minutes before stiffing them.

    The valley is quite good at outsourcing.

    Solution –  SJ citizens pool together, hire professional ‘activists’ from Berkeley, Santa Cruz, etc., equip ‘em with fake IDs, pack the city council chambers and have ‘em raise hell.

    You could almost think of them as lobbyists for the citizens.

  34. 2 Minute Drill,

    You forgot to tell Eugene that not only do the councilmembers not listen but on the really controversial issues one less than a majority have already signed a memo stating their position just hours before the meeting starts.

    I have seen meetings where the chambers are packed with people waiting hours to speak their two minutes not having a clue that a memo even exists.  You can usually tell how the vote will go down by seeing who has signed the memo.


  35. Don’t knock the strip malls.
    50 years from now PAC will have “experts” telling us the strips must be preserved & converted to housing in order to preserve our cultural heritage!

  36. Re: the memos – has anyone ever filied a civil and/or criminal complaint against City Council with the County’s Grand Jury or the County DA on these memos?  If so, what was the results of such complaints?  It is clear to me that there were plenty of backroom deals made before council accepts public input.

    As for outsourcing in the Valley: I know all about that personally.  I was one of the 5,000 people recently laid off from Oracle.  It is disturbing to find that you were replaced by someone in India making the equivalent of 1/10 your salary.  I now work in a company in Mountain View which does a lot of outsourcing.

    A question for everyone re: VTA and San Jose:  besides Mayor Gonzales, name the four voting members and one alternate member of the VTA Board who sit on the City Council.

  37. Ground Control to Mayor Tom, where have you been since your last posting of the 27th. You talk about the big projects like Evergreen which will become boged down like a high handicap American golfer in an Irish bunker. San Jose is at a standstill,but the ground swell of development lies in the “granny units”. You and your capitalist friends look at the big projects and I look at real development. I wait the decision of the council on Tuesday as we have ten individuals ready to build offices or add ons to accomodate our growth plan. We will put 7 people in each “home office” wire each house appropriatly and do international executive search to place people all over the world. Hopefully the Valley will come back and we can place people in local jobs but until then these are real jobs that will increase the tax base. Of course our seventy new employees can’t afford to live in the area so they will commute to our “home offices”. I would hope you and all your friends support the pilot program that will help Drive a Strong Economy. By the way, you may want to work on rapid transit and immigration reform which would help us staff our home offices easier. Please support grany units at Tuesday council meeting, we will have people there because it matter. Over and out Mayor Tom.

  38. Yeah, 43 Steve’s got it right—the public comment section of city council meetiungs in San Jose is such a monumental farce, and has been since at least 1987 when I first started attending council meetings.  The decision has been made BEFORE the public comment.

    Those who appear frequntly before the council know this, but most of the regular citizens who appear to speak really believe they will be heard BEFORE the decision is made.

    What if juries worked like that—they got a summary from the DA and made their decision BEFORE the defense got to present its case?

    The current council system of decision before public comment is unethical, but I heard nothing about that from the vaunted ethics commisssion investigating the Gregory debacle.

    John Michael O’Connor

  39. Mr. Kieve:

    The problem with the CNN?HLN format is it discourages continuous listening because they drone on about the same four stories each fifteen minute segment.  Surely there are more than four stories going on in the world.  I’m a news junkie, but if I want to know anything other than who shot whom, where the latest fire or child kidnapping happened, I have to go to the BBC on NPR.

    So while I’m ranting, please tell your weekend night-time guy—Randy Jones I think his name is—to slow down when he gives the traffic and weather.  He sounds like he’s broadcasting while being chased by 20 NFL defensive guys. Also, clue him in that 5:00 a.m. does not call for an opening of “good EVENING, I’m Randy Jones, ETC. ETC.”  More than half the time he’s so confused he says “Good evening…uh… good morning…”  Bars don’t close at two o’clock in the evening.  They close at two o’clock in the morning.

    John Michael O’Connor

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