Staedler: San Jose trails California in parking standards
Parking meters in Downtown San Jose. Photo by Jana Kadah.

    Parking requirements have been reduced in some new housing developments with the advent of AB 2097. San Jose has been touted as leading this and the state following course. That is clearly not the case.

    San Jose officials voted in June to “craft a policy to eliminate parking minimums.” They should not be given credit for something that has not happened yet. That would be like congratulating San Jose for the supposed 25,000 homes promised years ago.

    A vote on a plan is not the same as implementing a policy change. The city hopes to vote on a plan by late November or early December. Why does it have to take that long to vote on something? It’s not rocket science, it’s simply amending or striking out sections of the municipal code on this. San Jose officials discussed proposed changes in August 2021, then had a hearing in June of this year.

    Here is a link to the city’s webpage: Parking and Transportation Demand Management Ordinance Update. When you click on the “What outreach has been conducted?” tab, it shows a list of meetings with recordings dating back to January 2020:

    • City Council Hearing – Parking/Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Ordinance Update Policy Direction, June 14, 2022
    • Planning Commission Hearing – Parking/Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Ordinance Update Policy Direction, June 8, 2022
    • SPUR Digital Discourse, “Eliminating Barriers to Common-Sense Transportation Projects,” March 31, 2022
    • SPUR Digital Discourse, “Coming to Terms with the Bay Area’s Parking Problems,” Feb. 28, 2022
    • San José City Council Study Session: Parking and Transportation Demand Management, Aug. 27, 2021
    • SPUR Digital Discourse, “Imagining a City that Puts People First,” Aug. 13, 2021
    • In-Person Public Workshop at Veggielution Farm, Aug. 7, 2021
    • Virtual Public Workshop, July 22, 2021
    • Virtual Public Workshop, June 24, 2021
    • Developer Roundtable Meeting, June 18, 2021
    • Developer Roundtable Meeting, April 16, 2021
    • SPUR Digital Discourse, “From Transit to Tipoff: Solving the Transportation Challenges of Large Venues,” Feb. 25, 2021
    • Greenbelt Alliance Forum, “Parking Reform for Climate Smart Communities,” June 24, 2020
    • SPUR Digital Discourse, “What Happens When You Eliminate Parking.” June 4, 2020
    • Urban Land Institute Technical Assistance Panel at Planning Commission, Jan. 29, 2020
    • Staff has additionally engaged with over a dozen community groups and neighborhood associations from 2019 to 2022.

    San Jose has dragged its feet on making these changes since 2019. The housing crisis this region faces could have been eased by making developments less costly to develop years ago. If San Jose wants to back its claim of being a “transit first” city, then why wasn’t this parking reduction voted on already?

    It’s because voters in affluent areas are not keen on this idea. Draw your own conclusions from there. If you look at the past practices of the San Jose City Council voting on unpopular items, it will more than likely be put on the agenda for the last council meeting of the year and voted on around midnight. That diminishes community comment and then city officials tout this as a successful outreach moment with what’s listed above.

    Let’s walk the talk of being a “transit first” city and vote on this in October.

    San José Spotlight columnist Bob Staedler is a principal at Silicon Valley Synergy, a San Jose-based land use and development consulting firm. His columns appear every first Monday of the month. Contact Bob at [email protected] or follow @BobStaedler on Twitter.

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