The San Jose City Council took a few questions about he Diridon Station Area Plan last night, and then deferred deliberation and decisions until next week Tuesday.
On the critical parking issue, where the SAP Arena is pressuring the city to increase the parking supply, there are no recommended changes to the overall goals of the plan to provide a level of parking assuming that 40% of people in the area don’t drive.
But the devil is in the details. Some of the details are good, some bad, and some potentially ominous. On the good side, the staff report recommends that office buildings in the Diridon area should be designed with the ability to share parking, allowing Arena visitors to use the parking after 6pm when most office workers have gone home. This is a very good idea that allows efficient use of the space. On the bad side, the report also recommends requiring office buildings within a half-mile of the Arena to replace the parking or “mitigate the reduction of parking”, if they build on a parking lot.
According to Mayor Reed’s recommendation, this provision would require the new building to provide more parking than they need, if they need less than the Arena. If a building replaces 150 surface parking spaces, but only needs 100 for its own use, the developer would need to either build the parking anyway, incenting workers to drive, or be required to fund the addition of parking elsewhere near the ballpark.
A better option would be to take advantage of a practice that is already going on – arena visitors often park downtown near San Pedro Square, go out for drinks and dinner, and walk over or take a pedicab. This creates business for San Jose and allows the Arena to benefit from parking slightly further away. The city could promote this, take advantage of underused downtown parking, and not require parking to be overbuild in the Diridon Area. The staff recommendation explicitly excludes this strategy by requiring the replacement parking be within 1/2 mile of the Arena. The San Pedro Street parking garage that is already used by many fans is .7 miles away, and there are other parking garages that are nearby but more than .5 miles.
The ominous part is that the city is renegotiating its contract with the Arena, which is done at a staff level behind the scenes. The City has an agreement with the Arena to provide at least 6350 offstreet parking spaces. It would be possible for the agreement to be changed committing the city to provide more parking, regardless of what is stated in the Diridon Plan. It would be much better to have San Jose collaborate with the Arena more like the collaborations with Levi’s Stadium and AT&T Park, with efforts to create a multi-modal transportation plan with less driving as the area evolves.
For details on the changes in the staff proposal, and ideas about how to handle parking and access for the Arena, see the city council agenda for item 10.2, and under that item, the Supplemental distributed on 6/6, and the memos from Mayor Reed, Council Member Liccardo and Rocha.