The City of San Jose is reviewing the Diridon Station Area plan for approval. Wednesday May 7th it’s at Planning Commission, and May 20th it’s before City Council. If you live in San Jose or use Diridon Station, you can help.
San Jose wants to make the area around Diridon station into a walkable, bikeable, urban extension of the downtown. But there are risks to making the plan successful.
1) Don’t double the parking! SAP Arena is insisting on doubling the amount of parking, creating enough parking for 80% of people do drive – not just for the Arena, but for everyone in the Plan area, for the entire lifetime of the plan. This would defeat the goal of creating a place that is walkable, bikeable, where people use transit. Instead, the city would work with the arena to phase in a transition for parking,
2) Strong incentives for less driving. The Diridon Station Area Plan has a very good provision calling for a “Transportation Management Association” to provide benefits like shuttles, carpool programs, transit pass discounts to encourage people to get to the area without driving. (Historically, cities have provided subsidies in the form of subsidized car parking) This is part of a trend in the region to have cities provide benefits like the big employers do to drastically reduce driving. To make this successful, San Jose will need to make sure that it is funded, and has transparent public reporting.
3) Transit integration. Design the transit improvements, including the new BRT services, BART, and in the long term High Speed Rail so that making connections is quick and easy (the preliminary designs don’t do this yet).
4) Prioritize the good bicycle and pedestrian improvements, and make sure they get funded. Include the option to daylight Los Gatos Creek and extend the trail, and work to fund it.
5) Housing affordability. There is so much more demand for housing in walkable, bikeable, transit-rich areas that prices are skyrocketing. San Jose should increase housing in the plan area, and foster affordability through smaller units, providing 20% dedicated affordable
6) Support Caltrain electrification and capacity improvements. This isn’t an issue in the plan per se. But San Jose Council members are on the VTA board and have a lot of influence on the Santa Clara County ballot measure that could help fund Caltrain capacity and grade separations. The plan predicts that 10000 people will use Caltrain, and 10,000 people will use BART. Tell San Jose leaders they should support Caltrain in addition to BART to acheive the goals of the plan.
The most important thing will be to have many people at the Council meeting – save the date, May 20 at 7pm. For a reminder, and a sample letter to customize, sign up here for the Diridon Station Area.
For extra help, send a note to planning commission by 4pm tomorrow. Say who you are, where you live, how you use Diridon, why you want the plan to be successful, and one or more of the points above. Send your note to Michael Brillot, Michael.Brilliot at sanjoseca.gov by 4pm.
If you have enough time tomorrow, come tomorrow night to San Jose Planning Commission starting at 6:30 pm, speak in support of the plan, and urge the Planning Commissioners to move it forward and address one or two of the concerns below. If you’re coming to speak, let us know, friends at friendsofcaltrain.com to help coordinate.