In its comment on the Diridon Station Environmental Impact Report, the SAP Arena urges the City of San Jose to nearly double the amount of parking in the plan area, compared to the amount proposed in the plan.
SAP predicts total demand will be in the low 20,000s of spaces for about 26,000 residents and workers once the plan area is built out. This is enough parking for about 80% of people to drive.
With its Diridon Station Area Plan, the City of San Jose is seeking to transition the area over time to a walkable, urban extension of the downtown, with offices, entertainment, and new homes. The goal over the next 25 years of the General Plan is to have only 40% of the areas residents and workers commute by car. The city’s goal is for the area to take much better use of existing and new transit, with existing Caltrain and light rail service, plus BRT lines, and BART coming in from the East Bay.
However, the SAP Arena currently has most of its customers driving, many from suburban areas with poor access to transit. It is logical that they would be concerned that restricting parking would harm their business. But in the interest of protecting their own current business model, SAP Arena are also proposing to negatively impact the value of future offices and homes that would benefit from being in attractive walkable neighborhoods rather than seas of parking lots and parking structure edifices.
When the Giants moved from Candlestick Park (where 90% of fans drove to ballgames) to AT&T Park on the waterfront near downtown, the City of San Francisco worked with the Giants and neighboring businesses to develop a new set of transportation plans that allow at least 50% of fans to get to the ballpark without driving. Those plans have been successful, and the area around the ballpark is a revitalized, thriving urban neighborhood. The SAP Arena isn’t moving, of course, but the area around is is changing. Hopefully the City can work with the Arena to work out plans to transform the access strategy over time, to support the sports and entertainment center and the city’s evolution to a walkable urban, more transit-oriented place.
In its comment letter, SAP Arena also included a request to add vehicle capacity on Bird (where there is currently a proposed bike lane) and listed other concerns about vehicle capacity that may pose challenges to plans to make the area more walkable and bikeable.
The San Jose Diridon Station Area Plan is scheduled to reviewed by San Jose Planning Commission on May 7 and by City Council on May 20.
If you are interested in seeing the area fulfill the plan’s goals of becoming a walkable, bikeable area that makes use of the Diridon Station’s transit, please plan to attend these meetings. This is a substantial transformation for the City of San Jose, which grew up as a suburban, car-dominated place. Support will be needed to help city leaders make the decisions to follow through on the planned changes.