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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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Some $10 billion in Federal, State, and regional funding will be spent building new BART and high-speed rail lines into San Jose Diridon Station. Given that unprecedented level of transit investment, we can expect San Jose to make major zoning changes, right?

Well last Tuesday, council was presented the Staff recommendation. And as you read this, keep in mind they hired consultants, and did over one year of public outreach meetings to come up with this 1-line recommendation:

Parking goals only, no proposed changes to current code

So despite a 10-figure expenditure on new rail lines, San Jose will keep its existing auto-centric development patterns. And what might that look like? The Alternatives Analysis Report projects 15,000 new parking spaces in full build-out scenarios. That is in addition to some 5,000 parking spaces for the station itself. And if a new ballpark is built, there could be even more parking.

Ironically, the San Jose decision comes at the same time the CA High-Speed Rail Authority adopted its Station Area Development Planning Guidelines. That policy calls for “reduced parking requirements for retail, office, and residential uses due to their transit access and walkability.”

But the planners did make some pretty pictures! Too bad they bear no resemblance to reality.

No cars, no parking evident in this artist rendition

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