Posts Tagged ‘San Jose’


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The VTA has published the draft EIR for phase 2 of the San Jose BART extension. Phase 2 would extend the line starting from Berryessa, through the downtown area, and terminating (for now) at Santa Clara Caltrain. The projected cost is more than $4.7 billion.

Like most EIR’s, it is extremely long. But you can skip to this one chart, which tells all that you need to know about the cost-effectiveness:


In other words, the VTA will spend over $4.7 billion to generate just 14,619 new transit trips. Counting operating subsidies, that is more than $50 per trip.



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San Jose has a $1 billion backlog in street maintenance, and the police department is understaffed. Despite all that, the city tried purchasing a parking garage in order to give away some free parking to Safeway customers:

One of those properties is the 330-slot garage that the Safeway customers use at 88 E. San Fernando Street. The city of San Jose bid $850,000 to buy the garage last year.

Citing state guidelines for the dissolution of redevelopment property, the oversight board rejected the city’s offer, challenging the city’s method of appraising the property. Earlier this year, the board accepted the garage sale to a private operator, MVP REIT Inc., which paid $3.575 million. At that price, the new owners needed to charge more for parking.

Quelle horreur! Charging market-rate pricing for parking — a whopping $4/hr. And for those who can’t afford that, there is a light-rail stop across the street, and the (free!) bike racks.





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San Jose’s Diridon Station Area Plan will build a Sea of Parking around the new BART and HSR stations. And you don’t have to take my word for it — even Rod Diridon agrees. So you might expect the Greenbelet Alliance to come out against the plan….or not:

The plan also calls for creating a dynamic world-class community next to the station that’s designed around people, rather than cars, to create an attractive urban village in the heart of San Jose.

The Diridon Plan provides one of San Jose’s best opportunities to carry out many of the goals from its Envision 2040 General Plan, especially increasing walking, biking and transit trips. Now the hard part: Making the vision a reality. This will require strong leadership and cross-jurisdictional collaboration. The San Jose City Council should start by approving the Diridon Plan.


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The Diridon Station Area Plan leaves a lot to be desired. Billions will be spent on bringing BART and HSR into the station — and yet, the San Jose City Council will do little to take advantage of that infrastructure. For the most part, the station area will be a sea of parking.

And you don’t have to take my word for it. Even Rod Diridon says the plan sucks:

Missing from the plan itself is Diridon’s larger vision for Silicon Valley. Diridon, currently the executive director of the congressionally created Mineta Transportation Institute, advocates for a Silicon Valley dominated by high-rise, mixed-use towers built on car-free platforms above train stations.

It’s the only way to escape a future clogged with miserable traffic, he says.

The current plan for Diridon Station, while exciting compared to the area’s current uses, doesn’t propel San Jose — and Silicon Valley — forward as far as it should. The development envisioned for the area can be taller and denser, forming a model for future transit-oriented development. “The current plan is the next generation of the modest evolution of San Jose instead of the paradigm shift that would make San Jose an internationally recognized city,”

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San Jose has removed some buffered bike lane from Almaden. It had been supposedly striped as part of a road diet plan. But now the city is saying the lane was installed “in error“. John Brazil, San Jose Bike Planner, writes in an e-mail:

That one block of Almaden Blvd bike lanes south of Woz/Balbach was installed in error.

San Jose plans to provide a bikeway connection south under Hwy 280 via 2nd and 3rd Streets since they do not have a freeway interchange. Almaden Blvd at 280 does have a freeway interchange and one-way loop that is very challenging to bikes. In addition, adding bike lanes on Vine and Almaden south of Hwy 280 are not currently funded.

To avoid the Almaden/280 interchange, Almaden Blvd bicyclists will be able to use the Woz/Balbach/San Salvador bikeway (to be implemented this fiscal year) to planned bike lanes southward on 2nd and 3rd street under 280 (planned for next year). This will be a more bike friendly route without an interchange.”

Oh my, this is wrong for so many reasons. First of all, the lane reduction calmed traffic on Almaden. Putting extra car lanes back in won’t be good for neighbors, or for peds crossing the street. Second, there are places on Almaden that bicyclists might want to visit (hasn’t John Brazil heard of Routine Accommodation?). Third, the city will be removing an existing bike facility before the “replacement” is ready.

I’m also baffled by the description of the 280/Almaden interchange as being “challenging” for bikes. The one-way loop is actually an elegant design that has fewer turning conflicts.



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Lighting $600k On Fire

Even in a down economy, San Jose figures out a way to light $600,000 on fire:

The city of San Jose has received a grant for $600,000 from the ArtPlace national arts funding organization. The grant is expected to be used to support a pilot program, called Illuminating Downtown. The project aims to light up sites in downtown San Jose, combining themes including art, technology, and environmental sustainability. Some of the areas include the South First Area and San Pedro Square, with the first project being the downtown gateway of Highway 87 at Santa Clara Street.

So let me get this straight…install decorative lighting — at a freeway off-ramp — to demonstrate “environmental sustainability”??

The artist for the first project is Dan Corson, who previously helped prepare San Jose’s Diridon Station Area Art Plan. It is expected to be installed by winter 2013.

Wow, who knew Diridon station even had an Art Plan? Too bad there are no passengers to see it.

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These past two decades, Gary Richards has done some serious wanking for the BART-San Jose project. It’s tough narrowing down his most idiotic BART wankage, but this Q&A gets to the heart of the matter:

Q We could have Caltrain running from Fremont to San Jose within six months and for pennies on the dollar of what it would cost to  ring in BART. Caltrain ran trials on this route back in 1995, and I can take my bike on Caltrain. To hell with BART and their blasted tax.
Bring on Caltrain.

-Deborah Goldeen

A There was a plan in place in 1996 to run Caltrain-style trains from the BART station in Union City to downtown San Jose. But those efforts died for a couple of reasons. Residents living along the proposed route did not want this type of service, fearing for pedestrian safety and train crashes at intersections, problems that have plagued Caltrain on the Peninsula. Then, as the dot-com boom began and traffic on I-680 and I-880 became horrible, the call to bring BART to San Jose took off, resulting in nearly 71 percent of voters approving the Measure A tax plan in 2000. However, that half-cent tax is not enough to build BART and other transit improvements promised voters in that election.

In fact, the 1996 voter-approved plan was for modern European DMU’s running on conventional track. At $100 million, it was a bargain — and would have paved the way for future HSR service. Instead, VTA brainiacs decided to convert to BART gauge, increasing costs 100 fold and delaying rail service by decades.

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BART Wanker

With yesterday’s groundbreaking of the BART-San Jose project, it seems only appropriate to honor its biggest promoter. No, no, not Guardino, but Mr. Roadshow. In recognition of two decades of BART wanking, let’s highlight some of the most outlandish things he’s written about the project. Starting with yesterday’s column!

 Q: Why doesn’t BART make a right turn in Milpitas and go right up Highway 237? That’s where all the traffic is going.

A: Far too costly, and these trains need to go to downtown San Jose.

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Bad enough San Jose plans for a Sea of Parking around the Diridon station area, City Council also wants to make the area the most bland neighborhood this side of the Mississippi:

If the final plan is adopted next year, San Jose officials said, the area could ultimately be modeled after other popular regional destinations, including the L.A. LIVE entertainment complex in Los Angeles, anchored by the Staples Center; Union Station in Denver, near Coors Field; and the Kansas City Power & Light District, near the Sprint Arena.

And if that doesn’t strike you as a livable neighborhood, just wait because it gets worse:

Developing the area will be challenging, two consultants told the council Thursday. They noted that the public and private landowners in the area may have different ideas about land use, which could result in helter-skelter development. A master developer could solve those issues, the consultants said, though others noted that the odds of the cash-strapped city being able to subsidize a master developer is “close to zero,” as Horwedel put it.

This suburban planning mentality is wrong on so many levels. Real cities develop organically — what these consultants dismiss as “helter-skelter” development. A Master Planned community ensures a cookie-cutter approach to the neighborhood, characterized by bland buildings and boring public spaces. Even worse is the notion that developers should be subsidized to build such crap. This land will be served by subway, light-rail, and high-speed rail — what additional incentive would a developer require to build in such a location?

The "model" for Diridon Station development

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