A memo signed by Mayor Gonzales and Councilmember Williams suggests that San Jose is trying to abandon its decades-old policy of "triggers" that would restrain Coyote Valley development until the City is prepared to handle the massive growth. The memo is here.
Some of our concerns:
*The concept of "phasing by the willing" seems to mean grow anywhere, in any increment, at any time. This contradicts earlier plans to start growth in a central area. The statement "[d]evelopment may occur in ANY increment and in any location as long as it conforms to the Specific Plan's land use and design guidelines" seems to waive the requirement that 5,000 jobs be located in the region before residential construction begins.
*The memo claims the City Council has approved moving away from budgetary triggers that are intended to insure the City can handle the development. No citation is given, and "moving away" sounds like a vague term to this lawyer. I'd like to see exactly what they're talking about. Again, this functions to eliminate a trigger that would have reduced the extent that Coyote would compete with Downtown and North First Street development in the short term.
*The City continues to ignore City Council direction that the 50,000 jobs planned for Coyote are "primarily" industrial/office jobs, instead all planning has required a minimum of 50,000 industrial/office jobs. This is important because the City is providing insufficient housing for the number of people it wants to work in Coyote. Every extra job without housing translates into sprawl.
*The statement "[s]ubregions (phases) are not required to have geographic continuity" makes no sense, and it doesn't make sense for a reason. The City Council's Outcome #13 focuses on allowing development to move forward "when a subregion has ability to finance the appropriate infrastructure." This memo contradicts that requirement in order to rush development as soon as possible.
*The requirement to preserve farmland to mitigate conversion of farmland applies only to farmland converted to low-density residential development, while imposing no duty mitigate land lost to commercial development or for infrastructure. Again, this makes no sense. All farmland loss in Coyote Valley should be mitigated, just as Gilroy requires (and as many other cities require).
*The memo only requires maintaining the average residential density for the first 30% of the buildout. This suggests that for most of buildout, less-profitable, high density residences can be "backloaded", and then forgotten. The City's goal of 25,000 residences, already inadequate for the jobs planned, will not be met.
In short, every aspect of this memo is intended to accellerate development of Coyote Valley. While this isn't exactly surprising, it is very worrying. We'll be waiting to see what the Coyote Valley Task Force and City Council do with it.