Is it possible for farmland to be blighted?
That was how San Jose described the North First Street corridor, an area that was farmland not too long ago. Thanks in part to efforts of the San Jose Redevelopment Agency, it has now been paved over into office park hell.
North First Street is another example where RDA’s fail to consider neighborhood livability and sustainability in development plans. The VTA built a billion-dollar light rail line along 1st St, but the development is purely auto-oriented.
A pretty good Class I bike/ped trail runs alongside highway 237. Some of it was built as part of the Bay Trail project, other segments were built as mitigation for the highway 237 construction. One annoying gap is between North First and Zanker. How easy would have been for San Jose to have fixed this gap, as part of redevelopment. Problem was, their staff had no idea the trail even existed.
Not only was this gap not filled, but for 10 years a fence was thrown up across Holger way, forcing cyclists to make an unnecessary detour.
The reason I bring up this planning clusterfuck is because the annual meeting of the California Redevelopment Association is being held in — of all places — San Jose. And this may be their last meeting ever, because Governor Brown wants to eliminate Redevelopment Agencies for good.
As reported in the Mercury News, the conference was more of a confessional:
Is it an Irish wake or an old-fashioned revival meeting? At this week’s annual meeting of the California Redevelopment Association, it’s been hard to tell. The three-day conference, which ends Friday at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center, may turn out to be the final gathering of almost 400 of the state’s active redevelopment agencies if a proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown to eliminate them comes to pass. Or, as the roughly 600 attendees are hoping, their last-minute efforts, counterproposals and reform pitches to state legislators may be enough to pull redevelopment from the grave. With crisis, some say, comes opportunity — and maybe even redemption. “We have to admit to ourselves that we have sown some of those seeds of our own destruction,” John Shirey, executive director of the association, told a general session audience.
San Jose has been one of the worst abusers of redevelopment process. What better place to bury RDA?