San Jose businesses frustrated by homelessness
Kruse Drive in San Jose is lined with RVs parked in front of businesses. Photo by Jana Kadah.

    Reza Farahani immigrated from Iran more than 20 years ago and opened his Lincoln Glass & Mirror business on Kruse Drive in North San Jose. He moved down the block a decade ago when his company expanded, but said in the last two years the surrounding neighborhood has become untenable because of rampant homelessness.

    Dozens of RVs line both sides of the street, with metal scraps and trash everywhere. Farahani said his office has been broken into multiple times, gasoline and car parts are stolen weekly and his accountant has been harassed on numerous occasions when leaving the office. He said his letters to the city asking for help removing the RVS go unanswered and police fail to enforce the “no parking” rules.

    “It’s just not safe for us anymore here,” Farahani told San José Spotlight.

    The business owner said he’s paid thousands of dollars to fix damaged cars and replace stolen items. His employees often find their trucks with empty gas tanks or missing catalytic converters, making them late to  glass installation jobs. The cost is adding up, he said, so he’s looking to move out of San Jose, maybe to Morgan Hill or Hayward.

    Business owner Reza Farahani shows the remnants of gasoline that spilled when someone stole it from his company’s truck. Photo by Jana Kadah.

    Two different companies on the street have already left, said Susan Garza with BearCat Properties. The company has owned four buildings on Kruse Drive since 1970. Garza said it’s only gotten more expensive to work in San Jose due to increases in utility rates and taxes, but they cannot recoup the amount from tenants because the surroundings are problematic.

    “Because of this problem with the unhoused we can’t raise rent, or businesses will for sure leave. We are losing a lot of money, we are close to breaking even,” Garza told San José Spotlight.

    Garza said she sympathizes with the homeless and turned to the city for assistance. Clean up crews come bi-weekly to clear trash in response. But as homelessness persists, San Jose officials are struggling to find places for the thousands of unhoused residents to go.

    Councilmember David Cohen, who represents the area, asked city workers to explore potential safe parking sites for the RVs. He also asked the city to count how many RV dwellers are in San Jose—a number that’s largely unknown–so the city can properly scale up services.

    “RV dwellers are looking for places that are more out of the way so they avoid residential areas (and go to industrial areas),” Cohen told San José Spotlight. “We (in the past) removed them from other locations, but as we do that, the number of locations becomes fewer (while) we see a growing number of people living in RVs.”

    He said the quickest and least damaging solution for both businesses and homeless residents is to open more safe parking sites.

    The city doesn’t currently have safe parking sites, but is set to open one in South San Jose at the end of the month.

    San Jose first explored safe parking programs in 2019 at the Seven Trees Community Center parking lot. The program was shut down in less than a year due to concerns of safety and lack of participation. The city funded two more locations at Roosevelt and Southside community centers, which closed in 2021 when a contract with LifeMoves expired. In November 2021, a temporary safe parking program in North San Jose ended earlier than expected because the few residents who utilized the site moved to transitional housing.

    Cohen said discussions are underway to identify more safe parking sites in the next few months.

    Other business owners on Kruse Drive said they plan to leave due to the high number of homeless people in the area. One operations manager, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation from unhoused residents, said his company, which has been in San Jose for nearly 30 years, may move to Fremont.

    The operations manager said the company pays $11,000 a month for private security. The company has struggled to hire new employees and current employees feel unsafe coming to work.

    “Of course we don’t want to leave San Jose. It’s the center of the tech world,” the operations manager told San José Spotlight. “But we have tried everything. (City officials and police) we talk to says their hands are tied.”

    Farahani said he’d stay if the area is cleared of trash and RVs, but he’s not confident the city will do anything.

    “San Jose is home and I don’t want to leave, but I have no choice,” he said.

    Contact Jana Kadah at [email protected] or @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.

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