Neighbors push back on San Jose housing project with no affordable units, limited parking

A proposed housing development — with no affordable units and
limited parking — along a sought-after corridor in Midtown San
Jose has rustled some feathers with neighbors.

More than three dozen community members came out to a meeting
Thursday night to offer their input on a plan to build two
seven-story mixed-use buildings with a total of 173 condominium
units, more than 20,000 square feet of retail and office space and
189 parking spots at 1530 West San Carlos St.

The property’s owner, Urban Villas LLC, has hired San
Jose-based Studio Current Urban Design and Architecture to build
the development on an approximately 1.34-acre site in between Buena
Vista Avenue and Willard Avenue.

Situated in the middle of the city’s West San Carlos Urban
Village, the project is part of an exerted effort by San Jose
leaders to energize the main corridor between the city’s downtown
core and its expanding retail hubs — West Valley Fair and Santana
Row. About a mile from the proposed project, Google is planning its
massive transit village that is anticipated to bring up to 25,000
new employees to the area.

“The Diridon neighborhood is going to be the biggest area of
growth over the next two decades in San Jose, and this is going to
be the bedroom community for that neighborhood,” said Jeff
Summit, the lead architect on the proposed development, in an
interview after Thursday night’s community meeting.

The project would require razing an automotive dealer, vehicle
rental company, martial arts studio, restaurant and eight homes
occupied by residents under the Section 8 voucher program.

Tenants currently living on the property have been given until
May to vacate their units. Those in at least four of the eight
units have already left, according to Viji Mani, one of the
property owners. The units were not rent-controlled, so none of the
tenants qualified for the city’s Ellis Act protections, which
would have provided them with compensation for their
displacement.

Instead of providing some of the 173 condos at below-market
rates, owner Urban Villas LLC has proposed paying $7.3 million of
in-lieu fees for the city to use toward housing initiatives across
the city.

In the midst of an escalating housing crisis, Alex Shoor,
executive director of the policy nonprofit Catalyze SV, said he is
pushing for affordable housing within the development because the
city needs swift and reliable solutions.

“Who knows where and even when the affordable housing will get
built (by the in-lieu fees),” Shoor said. “And one of the
reasons we care about affordability is we want integrated
neighborhoods because we think that can correct some of the
historical inequalities and injustices and segregation that has
happened as a result in our neighborhoods for generations.”

Community members in the audience Thursday night brought up a
wide range of concerns about the proposed development from its lack
of affordable units to potential privacy loss from the buildings’
rooftop gardens to the feasibility of securing tenants for the
retail space. But the biggest concern echoed be neighbors revolved
around parking.

Providing that more than 16 parking spaces are reserved for the
office and retail employees and customers, the project provides a
little less than one parking space per condo. Although the project
slightly exceeds the city’s mandates, nearby residents say city
requirements don’t reflect the serious parking shortages already
present in the neighborhood.

Robert Ferris lives just a few houses away from the proposed
development on South Buena Vista Street — a narrow roadway where
parking is only allowed on one side. Ferris said the city’s poor
planning within the West San Carlos Street corridor has resulted in
increased traffic, inadequate street parking and overall, a
decreased quality of life for residents.

“This is not San Francisco. This is not Manhattan. Things are
spread out here and we don’t have the greatest transportation
system in the world by any stretch,” he said during the meeting.
“…Yes, you have to gear toward the future, but this is a
working-class neighborhood with maids, contractors, electricians
— what are they going to do, take their equipment on a
bus?”

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Under the proposed plans, the project will be built in two
phases. During the first phase, the developer would complete the
first building on the corner of Willard Street with 103 residential
units and approximately 14,046 square feet of retail and office
space. The second phase would complete the project with a building
on the corner of Buena Vista Street that would include up to 70
residential units and approximately 7,118 square feet of retail and
office space.

Jeff Current, an architect working on the project, said the
buildings would consist of a variety of units from 500-square-feet
“junior” one-bedrooms to 1,300-square-feet three-bedrooms.
Neither Current nor Mani said they had estimates for how much the
units would cost.

A driveway leading to the parking structures underground and at
the back of the building’s first level would separate the two
buildings. A private paseo would be constructed behind the first
building and a 20-foot-wide sidewalk with enough space for outdoor
restaurant seating would separate the buildings from San Carlos
Street.

The project is expected to go before the city council in Summer
2020 with the hopes of completing the first phase of the project by
the Spring of 2023. The city is in the process of gathering input
and beginning an environmental impact report for the project at the
end of the month.

Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
Neighbors push back on San Jose housing project with no affordable units, limited parking