green republic llc.
95 S. Market Street, 3rd Floor
San Jose, California 95113
Willow Glen Neighborhood Association
P.O. Box 7706
San Jose, CA 95150
Dear Mr. Ames
I am writing to share with you a comprehensive summary of the feedback Green Republic has received about our VTA project at West San Carlos and Sunol Streets over the past few weeks. We have received a great deal of helpful comments and suggestions and I would like to thank all the neighborhood associations and NACs for engaging with us about this project.
As mandated by the VTA Board of Directors, we convened and participated in three meetings with the community in March. We also plan to participate in three additional meetings in April, which greatly exceeds the requirement set for us by the Board in February. Green Republic is committed to a full community engagement process throughout the VTA land sale and City of San Jose planning processes.
The at large community meeting, held on March 18th, was noticed to all residents and businesses within a 1,000 foot radius of the project site in English and Spanish. In addition to our invitation, an advertisement was placed in the Rose Garden Resident and Willow Glen Resident newspapers. Furthermore, Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager sent a letter encouraging attendance at the meeting to his constituent database.
Our objective for these meetings has been to educate area residents about the VTA process, which is independent from the City of San Jose planning process. Representatives from VTA Staff and Steinberg Architects have also been on hand to present details on the conceptual design, current zoning and the principles of transit oriented development that are associated with the proposed project. Supervisor Ken Yeager participated in the at large community meeting and the comments and questions directed at him have been noted below.
It is clear that the area residents have a wide range of opinions about this project. We have grouped the issues raised by the community into several categories below. These issues will continue to be discussed openly with the community and the VTA Board of Directors in advance of the April 3rd meeting.
We have learned that the community clearly wants to be involved in this process, starting with the ENA/DDA approval, and they have a lot of concerns about height, density and neighborhood impact that is both positive and negative. Lack of parkland in the area is also a top concern and Green Republic has publicly stated its commitment to turning the four acres of industrial land at Sunol and Auzerais Streets into a neighborhood designed park and recreation area as part of the construction of this project.
The questions and comments raised, as characterized by the attendees at all three meetings, are as follows:
• The proposed project is too dense for the surrounding community
• The proposed height is too high
• The height and density is not mandated by the zoning
• Building more units does not increase demand for transit
• The VTA light rail does not stop at places the average resident visits, therefore TOD development is unrealistic
• To explore the possibility for a bus line to connect to regional retail and job hubs
• More detailed architectural elements
• Need additional (and more efficient) parking than allowed under current zoning
• Preservation of historical elements and artifacts similar to what KB Homes did on the Del Monte cannery site
• Current conceptual design criticized as an extension of the aesthetics of downtown San Jose, and will disrupt the views of existing residents and create shadows and/or block the sunshine
• Concern that the development will be surrounded by gates and therefore not accessible to the public
• Potential conflict with Steinberg being on the ARC since his firm is the architect on the project
• Aesthetics need to be more attractive and have long term appeal
• Use the Rivermark development as a design guideline
• Box-like construction does not match with a California aesthetic
• Would like to ensure that there are ample retail opportunities
• Clarify specific location of the parks onsite and offsite
• Planned park ratio
• Playgrounds for children of residents and surrounding community members
• Parks and related required fees should be done before the housing is constructed
• Shadows from buildings will negatively impact the gardens
• Soil quality and environmental remediation
• Public access to roof gardens
• Improve and increase the number of park trails
• Link to the Los Gatos Creek Trail
• Development will negatively impact traffic on all surrounding streets and at intersections
• Type and level of infrastructure improvements - W. San Carlos highlighted
• Specific requests for turn lanes in and out of the proposed development
• Need for lighting plans on streets for new traffic
• Study traffic impacts for what is proposed and what will be in the area in the future
• Safe pedestrian pathways
Composition of the Proposed Development:
• Impact on this conceptual plan if all parcels are not purchased
• Private development vs. public development
• Number of units at market value vs. below market value
• Condos vs. apartments
• Demographics of residents
• Total number of units, towers and type of product
Composition of the Proposed Development (continued):
• Construction timeline
• Impact on local entities i.e. grocery stores, local schools, etc.
• Help create less isolated communities with plenty of spaces for people to gather
Partnership with Barry Swenson Builders (BSB)/Tamien Towers
• Distrust of BSB due to negative past experiences
• Concern this will be a repeat of Tamien Towers in aesthetics and size
• Phase II park at Tamien Towers has still not been built, which is used as further reasoning not to trust BSB
• Previous BSB community outreach and discussions, when they occurred, did not result in any changes to the project (same criticism leveled at KB Homes)
• Number of developers that responded to the RFP
• Specific clause in the ENA to require neighborhood input on the design
• Scope of the EIR
• Public input to the EIR
• Type/mix of retailers
• Preference for local vs. national retailers and restaurants
• Tie to 10 year mixed use development plan for Lincoln Avenue
Questions/Comments for the VTA (3/27 only)
• Is the negotiation for the DDA already complete?
• What data supports the notion that building housing along light rail lines increases ridership and decrease dependency on private car ownership?
• Is the proposed VTA funded?
• The current site as planned is impacting current residents
• A letter in October, 2005 issued by the VTA regarding high density questions the need for density on this site
• How many people actually ride the light rail?
• The impact development along the light rail such as at this site is a quality of life issue for the current residents
• John Ristow is the only person at the VTA who has been able to explain the bus rapid transit plans
• When is the BRT corridor going to be completed?
• Is there funding for the future bus lines?
Questions/Comments from Attendees to Supervisor Ken Yeager (3/18 only)
• What is the best way to get the developer to lower the building?
• Where are the voting members of the VTA who awarded this project to RUP/BSB?
• Is there any public federal or local funding in this project?
• What is the City of San Jose's position on this project?
• Do we need density to bring BART to San Jose?
As you know, we are at the beginning of a very long public input process during which these issues will be addressed with the community and VTA Board and staff as appropriate. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.
Michael Van Every
Senior Vice President
Green Republic, LLC