City And School At Odds Over Massive North San Jose Redevelopment Plan

<p>North San Jose's redevelopment plan calls for 32,000 apartments and 7 million sq.ft of industry along the light rail line, but demand for the latter has dropped. Now the school district wants 4 new schools while the city insists only 1 is necessary.</p>
May 30, 2007, 1pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"During his campaign last year, Mayor Chuck Reed said the North San Jose plan was one of his top achievements in the six years he represented District 4...But while Reed says the plan is the city's 'best example of smart growth,' neighbors say there's little that's smart about the way the city is implementing it."

"In an attempt to limit the amount of additional traffic, the plan also allowed 32,000 high-density condos and apartments --- in the hopes that new workers would live near their jobs. City officials acknowledge that even with more than $500 million of planned road improvements, numerous intersections will still be gridlocked if all the allowed development occurs."

"The plan aimed to balance housing with jobs by requiring that 7 million square feet of industrial space be built before more than 8,000 new homes could be built. Because the demand for industrial space that drove planners to initiate the plan in 2003 had disappeared by the time the council approved it in 2005, the actual development applications filed to date have been mostly for housing."

"Most troublesome, neighborhood leaders say, is the city's failure to plan for schools before approving new housing. City officials argue that high-density housing will attract young professionals and few families, meaning just one new elementary school is likely to be needed.

Officials at Santa Clara Unified School District, whose boundaries include most of the new residential development sites, counter that as many as four schools could be needed - and that somebody needs to figure out where to build them and how to pay for them before the housing is approved."

"Exactly what the city will do regarding the Santa Clara school district's concerns is unclear. City officials argue that at this point, their options are limited because state law governs developer fees for school construction, and the city can't require additional payments. School officials say the fees won't nearly cover the cost of the schools."

Thanks to Lowell E. Grattan

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