For the first time, in a new memo with recommendations for the San Jose City Council’s final review of the Diridon Station Area Plan on Tuesday, Mayor Reed, Council Member Liccardo, and Council Member Oliverio recommend that the SAP Arena join the Transportation Management Association being planned for the Downtown/Diridon area, with the goal of reducing driving and encouraging other forms of transportation.
This is a bold new step encouraging the SAP Arena to step up and join the efforts of the entire Downtown/Diridon area at shifting transportation away from driving. The memo uses San Francisco’s strong collaboration with the Giants as peer pressure for the SAP Arena and the Sharks: “The Mission Bay TMA that includes AT&T Park, for example, has been reported to have boosted the use of non-auto trips to Ballpark events to more than 50% of attendees.”
The Good Neighbor Committee which worked with city staff providing input into the Diridon Plan had long recommended that the SAP Arena participate in initiatives for the area to reduce driving, but that recommendation had not appeared in the draft Plan. Arena management has strongly argued in favor of vehicle access and car parking as the predominant method of access long into the future. This week, Reed – a strong proponent of the Arena – joins council colleagues in making the recommendation for the Arena to participate in efforts to reduce driving.
Simultaneously and unfortunately, however, the new Reed/Liccardo/Oliverio memo endorses a provision recommended by Mayor Reed last week – giving Arena veto power about when and whether to accept less driving and less car parking.
In the latest recommendation for the parking section of the plan, the staff memo from June 6 encouraged shared parking as a strategy to make efficient use of Diridon Station Area land, by requiring new commercial developments to make their parking spaces available to Arena visitors after 6pm at night. This is very good. But the staff memo also recommended that developers of new commercial buildings be responsible for mitigating the reduction of parking supply.
Mayor Reed’s memo clarified that policy in a potentially draconian way – proposing a “goal to maintain the current parking availability, until the City and Arena Management agree that transit ridership is robust enough to reduce parking supply without negatively impacting SAP Center operations.”
This proposal has two bad implications. First, a developer of a new office building could be forced to build more parking than their new office tenants need, in order to preserve parking supply for the arena. Second, the Arena would have veto power over whether and when new developments could be free to stop oversupplying parking.
So, on the one hand, the Mayor, Liccardo, and Oliverio are encouraging the Arena to step up to work with the city to reduce driving. But on the other hand, they are proposing to give the Arena veto power, and imposing on new office developments the costs of maintaining the Arena’s familiar parking-rich business model.
Shared goals are needed for a successful TMA, and San Jose will need to develop a plan for incremental mode shift because the Diridon area won’t change over night. But San Francisco didn’t give the Giants an option of maintaining a 90+% driving mode share ad infinitum, and San Jose shouldn’t give that leeway to the Sharks.
Also, the City of San Jose is eager to see new development in the Diridon station area, particularly new offices and employment. It is reasonable to expect the new developments to share parking, but seems unreasonable to burden them with the costs of providing more parking than their tenants need.
Hopefully the process of creating the TMA, with education and analysis about how to evolve from the auto-dominated past, will bring the Arena, and other old and new players on to the same page with practical goals and strategies for reducing driving and parking, to make better use of the land in the downtown and Diridon area, and to create a nicer place for people to live, work, and enjoy.