Mayor, Liccardo Push for High-Rise Towers

Mayor Chuck Reed and Councilmember Sam Liccardo authored a memo last week that would give high-rise builders in downtown San Jose new incentives to start constructing towers before the end of next year.

At its meeting Tuesday, the City Council will discuss the incentives for builders, which could consolidate and expedite the permit process, slash in half the construction tax and the commercial-residential-mobilehome park building tax, allow for the deferral of fees and waive minimum parking requirements, amongst other options.

“Overcoming the inertia of the last recession depends on getting a couple of towers built that can again ‘prove the market’ to other lenders and developers,” the mayor and Liccardo’s memo says. “Preliminary evidence of the downtown rental market—the Mesa 360 residential tower has leased quickly at very high rents, and has over 97 percent occupancy—suggests that a significant nudge could generate substantial momentum for private development downtown.”

The council also plans to review the budget hearings from last week and a Social Host Ordinance, which could make parents more liable when underage drinking occurs on their property and the parents are aware. Councilmember Nancy Pyle, of Almaden, proposed the idea.

Two other items on the agenda include hearing the planning commission’s recommendations to restrict payday lending offices, and expanding Parque de los Pobladores on South First Street to eliminate street pavement between Reed and Williams, which happens to be the block directly in front of the entrance of San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley’s offices.

Click to read the City Council Agenda for May 15, 2012.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


  1. A big part of what the mayor and council are trying to sell with these downtown projects is the value of the location, a value in large part based on the level of safety offered the public. Given the cuts in the police department and the unprecedented decline in morale, the livability of downtown San Jose is guaranteed to decline considerably. Officers, lacking backup and motivation, are no longer making the preventative stops (ped and veh) essential to preventing crime in any core area. Street level drug sales, prostitution, and gang activity are awaiting the convenient shadows and vulnerable residents that will come with these new towers, and the only thing in the way of a guarantee Mayor Reed can offer these investors is a well-crafted lie, in the best tradition of a bait-and-switch con.

  2. Wow,  Fiscal emergency and yet Chuck and Sam can find money to waste on worthless projects to benefit their buddies who support Measure B.  Who in the hell wants to live in downtown San Jose? 

    If this does not tell you what is wrong with this Mayor and his gang of 5 nothing will.  God help us all, because they are out of control.


  3. So we’re supposed to believe in ” Preliminary numbers” , after all the lies and deceit from this Mayor and Council ? Cant do it ! This Mayor and Council have led us into a dark place and are about to enter into a long and tedious court battle with the very People who keep this city running and safe. This Illegal ballot initiative will pass by voter approval( because most people are too lazy to do there own research ,and blindly follow the Baffoons) This will be overturned in the courts, costing San Jose Residents Millions upon millions.Im positive that even then the Mayor will blame city workers for his ineptness. but hey what the heck lets build more towers, lets build a ballpark. its not like its coming out your pockets.

  4. Boy, I would love to see more towers downtown!  It’s so thirsty and in needs of at least 3 or more of them to put downtown back on track.  We have several problems: coward banks and lame developers, who are not aggressive at all, unlike the developers in Seattle and Vancouver.  Unless San Jose can shake them, no tower would be built.

  5. Let me connect some dots here and let you all in on a dirty little secret that should scare the ____ out of you…

    First, in the article attached to the first link, two builders are mentioned, Sobrato and Swenson, who have plans for high rise buildings the City wants downtown.

    In the SJ Inside article listing contributers supporting Measure B for pension reform you will see that both Sobrato and Swenson both donated $10k to the cause.

    Sobrato is a real estate development and management company that lists CITY of SAN JOSE on its client list. HOW MUCH HAS SOBRATO KICKED BACK TO ITS CLIENT AND PACS RUN FOR ITS CLIENT SO SOBRATO CAN RETAIN THIS RELATIONSHIP???

    Now, Swenson’s company holds a seat on the Downtown association’s Board of Directors which oversees something called the Property Based Improvement District (PBID) which collects a tax from every property owner in the Downtown corridor made up of roughly all of Police District “Edward.” The tax funds repairs, decorations landscaping cleaning AND a small “SECURITY TEAM.”

    Yes it funds a “security team” made up of folks who provide information to people in the district and handle minor issues for merchants. The problem with this security team is that they cannot enforce any laws and are really ineffective in providing “security.”

    This PBID is an entitiy of the San Jose Downtown Association run by longtime cop critic Scott Knies who has describe San Jose’s downtown as a “police state,” that scares patrons away and hurts business.

    The PBID wants a security team that is able to enforce laws and keep the peace Downtown in the PBID. how do they want to do this? Well they went to the City and the Police Department who agreed to provide 2 officers for 4 hours per day to walk or ride a bike in the PBID and enforce laws, remove transients and generally cater to the whim of business owners.

    Nice right???  A little overtime for the troops in these lean economic times, Right? 

    WRONG!!! NO, niether the City nor PBID wants to pay officers overtime to work this detail, Soooooooo, they went to the Chief who sent the request tooooooo???? That’s right, Secondary Employment!!!  (SEU)

    SEU is asking for volunteers to work this detail for??? $46.50/hour!!! It gets better!  The City and PBID like this arrangement all the more because…..???  There is no liability for The City or PBID because “the offciers have to carry the SEU liability insurance that is required for all who work SEU payjobs!!!!”  Heaven help any officer who forces a contact to “curb sit!” The IPA and IA will get involved, then your insurance may be cancelled,  you will be out of your pay job AND you may be looking at some time on the beach!

    PBID did have one concern – they worried that officers acatually doing thier job and making an arrest will be tied up with all the normal duties associated with processing arrestees… not to worry, the PD said the pay-jobber need only call for an availible BEAT unit to respond and take custody allowing the pay-jobber to return to service for the PBID!!!

    Job is to start May 21!

    • A cop would be an idiot to do anything on one of these “pay-jobs”
      Seems like they’re risking all their personal liability for some rich landlord.
      I still don’t understand how the city would allow their police to “work” for property owners ONLY.

      So basically, any crime the Officer sees that is not relative to the properties doesn’t get enforced? So we have to “pay” for police services now in just this area?
      Can I hire a cop to walk my street ONLY for 45 bucks an hour?
      Liccardo is a mule.

  6. This is why our COP is a piece of crap!  But then when you trim your pay check by 53% what the heck, take the risk and wait 4-5 hours for a beat officer to come.

    • Joshua,

      Reviving Downtown is a dead duck!  We, the taxpayers, have permitted our greasy politicians, in conjunction with the equally greasy developers and lobbyists, to pour 3,000,000,000 (that’s billion!) dollars into what once was a thriving Downtown. 

      Give it up, it’s not 1950 anymore, SJ residents don’t give a sh*t about Downtown!  They care more about doing things in their own neighborhoods, not driving ten miles to find overpriced restaurants/bars, no reasonably priced parking, and a generally hostile and unsavory environment replete with hookers, drug dealers and gangs.

      How much more would you suggest we pour down the bottomless money pit we call Downtown San Jose?!

    • Joshua Santos!
        Did You Just Ride In To Town on Mc Enery’s horse.
        When the Evil Empire had a death Grip on the down town, Where the Hell were you?
        It took Mr. Moon Beam, to whack that Bad Dog!
      The Village Black Smith

  7. Greg, you should be banned from San Jose. It’s people like you that spread misconceptions about Downtown and contribute nothing to actually making the city a better place.  And to answer your question, I suggest we pour whatever it takes into making sure this city has a heart and soul.

    • Joshua,

      Gee whiz, did I hurt your “wittle” feelings so badly that you had to make a personal attack on me?!

      Tell you what I’ll do – you can ban me from Downtown… does that make you feel better?

      I can only guess you have an ax to grind, e.g., you own a condo or small business down there.

      Well, it’s too bad that you feel that way because few but you feel that we ought to continue to feed the beast that is called Downtown – $3 billion is quite enough. 

      San Jose is not about Downtown, it’s much, much more than that and your myopic bias is showing.  Get over it!

    • Joshua,

      I agree that we need to have a strong downtown too, but we also need to focus on SAFE neighborhoods, and we must have enough pubic safety servants to ensure that it succeeds. We don’t have either right now, and that deeply concerns me.

      BTW- I may not always agree with Greg, but he has a good point on this one. No one should be banned for having a different perspective on a topic.

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