San Jose council review: Homeless jobs, Coyote Valley corridor
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo (center) speaks to San Jose Bridge workers at the Highway 680 exit at Berryessa Road in September 2021 in this file photo.

How do we help the people of Ukraine or our homeless residents? What is the Coyote Valley Monterey Corridor going to look like? These are some of the questions the San Jose City Council tried to answer at its March 8 meeting.

The City Council unanimously approved a $2.85 million contract with Goodwill of Silicon Valley to expand the San Jose Bridge program, which creates transitional and living wage employment opportunities for San Jose residents experiencing homelessness. The contract, paid for with American Rescue Plan dollars, will enable the program to expand to 150 people who will be sheltered in temporary housing while they work.

“The target population is individuals living in encampments,” said Kelly Hemphill, the city’s homelessness response manager. “Right now the focus is people living along the Guadalupe River.”

Women and survivors of gender-based violence will also be prioritized, Hemphill added.

The program will have two phases. The first is rapid employment, where all participants will become employees of Goodwill and make $18.50 per hour as clean-up crews throughout neighborhoods and parks in San Jose. They will work 20 hours a week.

About half will move on to the second phase, which is career training for long-term living wage employment. They will earn $24.07 with health benefits, or $25.31 per hour without benefits and work 40 hours a week.

About 80% of all participants will be able to get housing through LiveMoves—the city hopes to expand it to all participants in the next few months.

Coyote Valley corridor study 

San Jose wants to transform the Coyote Valley and Monterey Corridor. The vision: becoming the “southern gateway into the city.”

On Tuesday, councilmembers approved studying how the city should rezone and utilize the land for non-residential use. Ideas include wineries and beer gardens, restaurants, small bed and breakfasts, farmers markets, affordable farmworker housing and other agricultural uses.

The community outreach and study are estimated to cost about $475,000 and will take 18-20 months. Councilmember Sergio Jimenez, who represents the area, urged the council to include this cost in the next budget cycle. He also emphasized including local longtime landowners and farmers in the planning.

Several landowners voiced their support at the meeting, but also put pressure on the city.

Ken Saso, a multi-generational farmer and landowner on the east side of Monterey Highway, said he appreciated Jimenez’s memo asking for landowners to be part of the planning.

“I look forward to working with fair-minded people and will be available to make this a fair and just process that everyone will be proud of, as it is the southern gateway to San Jose,” Saso said at the meeting.

Ukraine and Russia

Despite calls to cut ties with San Jose’s sister city Ekaterinburg, Russia, councilmembers unanimously voted to send a letter advocating for peace and supporting residents who stand up against President Vladimir Putin.

Read more about what San Jose is doing to support Ukraine.

Emma Prusch Park improvements 

The city awarded a $3 million contract to improve the Emma Prusch Farm Park in East San Jose. Construction is scheduled to start in May, with completion targeted for early 2023.

The developer, Robert A. Bothman Construction, will build an all-inclusive playground with amenities to address those with special needs, including individuals on the autism spectrum, with visual/auditory impairments and developmental and physical disabilities.

Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco, who represents District 5 where the park is located, is thrilled with the plans.

“This is going to be such an amazing experience for our families,” Carrasco said. “The playground is going to be yet another highlight for our residents.”

Barriers to affordable housing construction 

Councilmembers voted to explore cutting construction taxes and other measures to incentivize developers. Read more about how that could ease some of the barriers to affordable housing construction in San Jose.

Councilmember hosts mayoral forum

District 9 Councilmember Pam Foley will host a mayoral candidate forum on March 14 from 6:30-8 p.m. The objective of the forum is to “pose questions that will help voters differentiate perspectives and positions between the several candidates,” according to Foley. It will not result in an endorsement.

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

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