South San Jose motel may become a Marriott
Lynn Shipman moved her camper out of the Casa Linda Motel in May 2022 after the end of a supportive housing program run by HomeFirst and paid for by Apple. File photo.

    Plans to build a five-story hotel to replace the Casa Linda Motel in San Jose are moving forward, following a favorable decision from the San Jose Planning Commission.

    Planning commissioners voted Wednesday to recommend the demolition of the small budget motel, located at 1669 Monterey Road on the city’s south side. The move will clear the 1.8-acre site to make room for a 120-room Fairfield Inn & Suites Hotel by Marriott, should the San Jose City Council ultimately sign off.

    A new Fairfield Inn & Suites Hotel by Marriott was given the greenlight from the San Jose Planning Commission. Rendering courtesy of San Jose.

    Through last spring, Casa Linda was used as a temporary housing site for residents of a homeless camp set up on otherwise vacant land owned by Apple. Apple swept the camp from its site near Component Road in 2021, with plans to redevelop it. The company offered each evicted person nine months’ worth of lodging as part of a rehousing program.

    The rooms were paid for through the Milpitas-based nonprofit HomeFirst. But participants complained that other services they’d been promised, like help with car repairs and registration fees, never materialized. And when the program concluded in May of last year, some of Casa Linda’s temporary tenants were willing to move from there into one of the city’s tiny homes, while others turned them down, citing strict rules on conduct. Two dozen participants were left with nowhere to go.

    HomeFirst officials, at the time, said they had connected more than 25% of participants to health care and social security services. Nearly all are now on a waiting list for housing vouchers, but it could take years before participants get into housing through the program.

    Dhaval Panchal, managing owner of Casa Linda LLC, which owns the motel, said he was “ecstatic” about the planning commission’s decision to support the new hotel development. He told San José Spotlight he hopes to break ground on the new site in about a year, pending building permits.

    Until work begins, Casa Linda is still taking reservations online, and Panchal said it will operate as usual in the meantime.

    HomeFirst spokesperson Lori Smith confirmed the nonprofit had worked with Casa Linda, but gave no further update on the organization’s relationship with the property.

    Preliminary data from the county’s point in time count found that homelessness has decreased by 4.7% over the last year in San Jose, bringing the number to approximately 6,340 homeless residents, down by about 300 people. City officials say the reason for the downward trend is due to the opening of more affordable housing and temporary shelters. Of that 6,340, 4,411 people are unsheltered, meaning they live on the street, along rivers or in tents.

    Mayor Matt Mahan has attributed that decline to his administration’s focus on more immediate solutions like tiny homes and shelter beds, funded in part through Measure E’s property tax revenue. He has maintained they are the fastest and most cost-effective way to get people indoors, though a recent San José Spotlight analysis suggests building permanent affordable homes will prove cheaper in the long run.

    Contact Graph Massara at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @BylineGraph.

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