San Jose Flea Market vendors get two-year reprieve
Roberto Gonzalez, a vendor and president of the Berryessa Flea Market Vendors Association, tends to his stand in this file photo.

San Jose Berryessa Flea Market vendors have been guaranteed another two years to stay open, thanks to an early morning deal struck between San Jose and the landowners.

San Jose Councilmember David Cohen reached an agreement on Friday with the Bumb family to guarantee the flea market can stay open until at least January 2026. The Bumb family, who owns the land, has allowed vendors to stay open until construction on a massive development begins, but the uncertainty has left vendors anxious.

“More certainty for the vendors is important for their businesses and for them to have time to make a plan for where they’re gonna go,” Cohen told San José Spotlight. “This (new deal) allows everyone to be more relaxed about their future and more certain about their transition.”

Vendors have been in limbo since 2021, when the San Jose City Council approved the Berryessa BART Urban Village project. The original plan was to rezone a 61.5-acre portion of the flea market to include up to 3.4 million square feet of mixed-use space and nearly 3,500 homes. That plan has since been withdrawn and replaced with a slimmed down version, with 940 homes.

Previously, the earliest the flea market could close was 2024, and vendors needed a one-year notice before development began so they could transition out. Under that plan, the Bumb family sent quarterly development updates to vendors and the city.

“So every few months, vendors would be anxious this may be the update where the market closes,” Roberto Gonzalez, president of the Berryessa Flea Market Vendors Association, which represents the 450-plus vendors, told San José Spotlight.

Now, the earliest a one-year advanced notifice of closure can be issued is Jan. 1, 2025, with the earliest possible closure being Jan. 1, 2026.

Erik Schoennauer, a consultant representing the Bumb family, said there is a chance the flea market could stay open even longer because of the change in development plans. The developer filed a new application to cut the number of homes in the development by nearly 75% using builder’s remedy—a state law that forces San Jose to approve housing projects that don’t meet the city’s general plan because officials failed to create a state-approved housing plan.

“It’s just the reality that we’re probably unlikely to get actual construction started on site in (the next two years),” Schoennauer told San José Spotlight. “So why not make that clear to everybody?”

Because the city is opposed to the slimmed-down plan, it could be a while before developers can break ground. And while officials are disappointed that developers want to downsize the project, the silver lining is that vendors can now stay open longer as stakeholders deliberate.

It also buys vendors more time to look for their next location. Gonzalez said the city is still in the exploratory phase of finding an alternative site for the flea market, but there have been some promising locations.

To help smooth the transition for vendors, the city started the Flea Market Advisory Board to study the economic benefits of the flea market and help vendors move into a new location. Gonzalez said the studies should be completed next year, so the extra time is helpful. The Bumb family, per an agreement with the city, allocated $5 million to help fund the advisory board’s work. The city also allocated $2 million.

“Just knowing that the shortest possible scenario is two years (away) gives us that kind of runway, a little bit (more time) to start planning that next move,” Gonzalez said. “This is definitely good news. We are really happy.”

Contact Jana at [email protected] or follow @Jana Kadah on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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