San Jose to consider a bigger crackdown on street racing
San Jose police and lawmakers are looking to crackdown on street racing. Photo courtesy of San Jose Police Department.

The San Jose Police Department is looking to crackdown on street racing – this time by making it illegal to attend the events.

On Tuesday, San Jose councilors are set to amend the city’s law on street racing and sideshows. The practice, which can draw hundreds of people and block off streets in the middle of the night, has posed a problem for the police department in the past.

“When patrol cars descend on an illegal sideshow site, the racers and spectators jump back into their cars and caravan to other locations, where they race until the police catch up with them,” Police Chief Eddie Garcia wrote in a memo. “The racers, traveling at high speeds from location to location, cause traffic congestion and danger to other drivers.”

Last October, an innocent bystander was killed after an alleged street racer struck an oncoming vehicle. San Jose’s police force works to curtail street racing with on-duty officers and the department’s DragNet and Racing Enforcement Detail.

Councilmembers Maya Esparza and Johnny Khamis are proposing that the city explore additional funding sources for the department’s Racing Enforcement Detail. Currently, San Jose only has the means to dedicate 10 to 14 on-duty officers to enforce street racing in the entire city.

“As the summer months approach, street racing and related illicit activities are expected to rise, and it is imperative that we make every reasonable effort to ensure that the Police Department has both the tools and staffing capabilities necessary to enforce our laws and discourage this dangerous, often fatal behavior,” Esparza and Khamis wrote in a memo.

Affordable housing fee program

Twelve development projects are no longer eligible to receive millions of dollars in fee breaks from a city program that aims to fast track development, according to a newly-released memo from Housing Department Director Jacky Morales-Ferrand.

The projects, which included Google’s Delmas Park development, were eligible for $38.5 million in fee exemptions from the city’s affordable housing impact fee program. San Jose typically requires developers to pay $17.83 per rentable square foot into a fund to help finance affordable housing projects, or to build affordable housing on site.

According to the memo, nine projects withdrew their applications and three other projects have their own development agreements that do not qualify for the program. Google last week withdrew its application for a $4.8 million tax break, and vowed to build affordable housing on its proposed downtown mega-campus.

On Tuesday, city councilors will review the Housing Department’s report, which examines four different types of exemptions in the affordable housing impact fee and inclusionary zoning ordinance programs. Inclusionary zoning is a city policy that requires developers to set aside at least 15 percent of new housing units for low-income residents.

There are currently 28 projects under the exemptions.

The 28 projects in the city’s affordable housing impact fee and inclusionary housing ordinance programs will be exempt from paying over $128 million in fees to affordable housing. Courtesy of the City of San José.

“As a result of exempting these projects from their affordable housing fees, a total of 7,477 market-rate residential units will be built and an estimated recurring tax revenue of $7.6 million will be collected annually,” wrote Morales-Ferrand.

City officials estimate the subsidies given to the 28 projects will total $128.4 million. However, the city will come out on top with $42.3 million in revenue from the developments.

A new name for San Jose Municipal Stadium

The San Jose City Council also plans to sign off on a new name for the San Jose Municipal Stadium: Excite Ballpark. Named after Excite Credit Union, the three-year naming sponsorship for the home of the San Jose Giants will accrue $275,000 for the city. According to a memo from Economic Development Director Kim Walesh, the money will be used for stadium improvements like asphalt repairs, repainting and roof repairs.

Excite Credit Union was formerly known as Alliance Credit Union, which has been a longtime sponsor of the San Jose Giants and one of the minor league baseball team’s largest sponsors overall – spending $60,000 in a single year.

City officials will also consider extending the lease with the Baseball Acquisition Company, Inc. – the San Jose Giants’ business corporation.

The previous lease, which required the Giants to pay a minimum of $12,000 annually – or 1.1 percent of annual gross receipts, whichever is higher – expired in December 2018. The new lease would extend those terms until Dec. 31, 2021.

The City Council meets 1:30 p.m. Tuesday inside the council chambers at City Hall, 200 East Santa Clara Street in San Jose.

Contact Grace Hase at grace@sanjosespotlight.com or follow @grace_hase on Twitter.

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