Last Thursday, the San Jose City Task Force held its fourth committee planning meeting regarding Envision San Jose 2040 where outrage struck over future student housing projects.
Envision San Jose 2040 is a plan that the City Council approved in November 2015 to further develop San Jose physically over the next couple of decades in order to align itself with its innovative reputation.
The General Plan states, “San Jose will offer a wide variety of living and working environments, continuing to develop Downtown San Jose, preserving and enhancing existing residential neighborhoods and creating new, vibrant Urban Villages.”
Thursday night’s meeting focused on affordable housing policies and the development of urban villages which would consist of diverse, average-density housing and up to date public infrastructure.
Urban villages are being implemented in order to accommodate the growing population, as well as job growth which go hand in hand.
“When someone comes in and says, ‘I want to build a signature project,’ all they’re asking about is, ‘Okay what’s the jobs number I have to hit?’” said Michael Van Every, a member of the Task Force.
The General Plan includes 12 major strategies of the development plan, one of them being the Destination Downtown which primarily focuses on the development of Downtown San Jose.
The Task Force allotted time for an informal public forum where people who were not part of the committee, but attended the meeting, were allowed to ask questions and voice concerns.
“Our main concerns with Urban Village concepts we have are with resolution of traffic impacts that will be created by these urban villages,” said Christian Greco, board member of the Winchester Orchard Neighborhood Association.
This concern over traffic issues correlates to the development of further public transit, including the expansion of BART and other mobility projects, one which includes a bike project that would also affect San Jose State University.
The Land Use and Transportation chapter of the General Plan says that the city plans to implement a low-cost bike program where bicycles will be available for public usage.
These bicycle locations will be by San Jose Diridon Station, SJSU and other places well populated by public transit commuters in order to encourage commuters to use bicycles as a main source of transportation, limiting traffic.
One of the pressing topics of Envision San Jose 2040 and Thursday night’s meeting was affordable housing which affects residential neighborhoods, Downtown and SJSU students.
Jillian Hilbert, a member of the public forum who lives in the Downtown area, voiced her concern over signature plans which would potentially be built near her home where San Jose Medical Center was formerly located. 171 units would be built for students.
“171 students in one spot? I’ve been a college teacher for 30 years and I can tell you what’s going to go on there,” Hilbert said
This was the fourth public meeting out of six. The fifth will take place on March 24 at 6:30 p.m. at San Jose City Hall.