A Proposal to Plan Regionally in the Silicon Valley

Could development fights in the home of the biggest tech companies be avoided if cities just talked to each other?

2 minute read

November 30, 2017, 7:00 AM PST

By Katharine Jose


Uladzik Kryhin / Shutterstock

San Jose City Councilman Donald Rocha (he's also, it's important to note, a candidate for county supervisor) wrote an op-ed for The Mercury News arguing that Santa Clara County needs to plan regionally.

“The city where I serve has recently had friction with its neighbors over new development projects along our borders. My observation has been that cities offer to start talking to each other when disputes arise over development projects, but there generally isn’t a forum for cities to have ongoing conversations about how to address the challenges of growth outside the context of a dispute.”

Rocha is referring at least in part to a conflict that began last summer when San Jose sued the city of Santa Clara over the environmental review for a massive mixed-use development called City Place (the county court just ruled in favor of the defendant), after which Santa Clara sued San Jose over the plan for an enormous retail/office complex called Santana West.

Silicon Valley is in the middle of a housing crisis, and part of the City Place controversy was that Santa Clara would get the jobs while San Jose would have to find housing for the people in those jobs. “One of the assumptions of our society is that economic growth is good,” Rocha writes. “There are many excellent reasons to believe that is true, but it’s also true that some of the most serious problems we face in our region are the result of our economic success.”

Citing examples from the past, Rocha proposes reviving a governing body that existed in the 1970s—“another period of rapid growth.” Facilitated by Santa Clara County, the Planning Policy Committee had two representatives from every city in the jurisdiction.

“Traffic, housing and other challenges of growth are among the most serious problems that our county faces.  We will make the most progress on these challenges if we work together.”

Sunday, November 26, 2017 in The Mercury News

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