Last week, the VTA board advanced a proposal from the Dahlin Group to build a housing development with 263 rental units and 36 for-sale townhouse on the east side of the Tamien Caltrain and VTA Light Rail stations, on land currently used as the Caltrain parking lot. In the early proposal, the concept is for Caltrain’s parking lot to be moved to the far side of the freeway. The long tunnel under the freeway is often deserted and has a reputation as unsafe, according to neighbor Jean Dresden. Unless improvements are made, riders would also have to cross a freeway on ramp and off ramp that is monitored only by stop signs.
Unlike most Caltrain stations, where only a minority of riders get to the station in a car, Tamien station gets 69% of its riders from the parking lot, and another 9% dropped off by car. Caltrain riders who live in the neighborhood suspect that the high “park-and-ride” mode share is partly a result of the infrequent Caltrain schedule in growing neighborhoods south of Tamien. Caltrain’s data shows that ridership at Tamien has been growing, but not why. In the coming year, Caltrain plans to do an “origin-destination” study, to get better actual information about where riders come from and go to before and after taking the train.
Of course, new homes next to the station will add a population of potential riders who don’t need to drive to the station. Another development with 12-story towers was previously approved by the City of San Jose for Swenson Builders at the corner of Lick and Alma Avenues, at the far side of the freeway, would add even more people walking distance from the train, and put more eyes on the tunnel. But that won’t fix the access issue for other Tamien users.
The team of developers and San Jose staff are well aware of the need to address community concerns, according to the VTA Congestion Committee Staff Report, which explained that “another obstacle to the development is gaining the support of the local community. The project team will engage the community throughout the process to get their input and reflect the community vision in the final plan.”
There will be opportunities to provide feedback on the development If you live near Tamien and want new development to ensure safe and convenient access to Caltrain, sign up here and put “Tamien” in the comments field.