Barocio and Caballero: Deep roots with commitment to public service
An aerial view of downtown San Jose. Photo by Ramona Giwargis.

    As lifelong residents of San Jose with deep roots in the eastside, we have chosen to dedicate ourselves to public service by improving the lives of all residents and the community members we serve. Seeking appointment to the Planning Commission is an extension of this service and an opportunity to contribute toward building a vibrant and welcoming city for all.

    We are humbled and honored that members of the City Council reviewed and vetted our applications from a pool of 26 applicants, and determined based on our skills and experience that we are qualified to be among the finalists to serve on the Planning Commission.

    We both have extensive experience working in the community and hearing from diverse perspectives while implementing public policy. The Planning Commission’s role is advisory to the City Council and to ensure development conforms to the rules and regulations set forth in the General Plan and zoning ordinances. While we understand the City Council is charged with making public policy and development decisions, we would be honored to bring forth our perspectives and knowledge to the discussions of how planning impacts our city and neighborhoods.

    We are committed to being transparent and open-minded when reviewing the various proposals that come before the Planning Commission. We know that land use and planning decisions have an important role in ensuring equity and economic opportunity for all residents in San Jose. We also understand that through open dialogue and thoughtful consideration, planning decisions help make our city thrive and enable people from all walks of life to call San Jose home — regardless of socioeconomic status, race, gender or geographic location.

    The fact that we are Latino applicants that can bring a voice to the many issues impacting historically marginalized pockets of San Jose is a win for vulnerable communities and the entire city. Let’s not waste time tearing each other down. We each bring a unique perspective to the table and a skill set focused on building bridges, finding common ground and arriving at equitable solutions. We support the proposed changes to the appointment process that would ensure that the Planning Commission is more representative of the 10 districts that make up the city as a whole. Land use decisions impact neighborhoods for generations to come and it is time to make voices throughout the city heard at all stages of the planning and development process.

    We believe the role of a Planning Commissioner is to do the hard work necessary to make San Jose a better city for all and not to engage in political rhetoric. The way a San Jose resident becomes a commissioner is through an appointment process, not an election. There are no “opponents” or “candidates” in this process, only applicants for members of the City Council to consider and appoint. We are concerned that any suggestion of participation in “challenges” or “debates” misleads the public and circumvents the already established and transparent appointment process.

    We welcome and value the opportunity to hear directly from all residents and stakeholders regarding how planning decisions impact their lives and community. We encourage all residents to attend Planning Commission meetings, participate in public comment and to apply to serve on a San Jose commission. We invite members of the community to engage and share their perspectives on planning issues with us before or after the vote on Oct. 1.

    We can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected]. We look forward to the opportunity to serve on the Planning Commission and to work with our fellow neighbors and commissioners to build a great city for all.

    Louis Barocio and Mariel Caballero are East San Jose leaders and two of three finalists vying for two vacancies on the San Jose Planning Commission. They wrote this op-ed in response to a call from fellow finalist Rolando Bonilla last week calling for a debate about the needs of East San Jose ahead of the appointment decision in October. SOMOS Mayfair also encouraged a public discussion in an op-ed last week.

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