By Robert Haugh
The Left Hook, the South Bay Labor Council’s blog, threw a nice punch last week. They wrote a story about how the city of San Jose has allegedly waived traffic impact fees for Federal Realty, the developer of the Santana West project that will redevelop the old Flames Restaurant and Century Theatres on Winchester. It’s a good read.
The fee waiver is not just peanuts. According to the report, it may be $32 million. Wow. That’s a lot of money that could be used for traffic improvements. Anyone who’s been to the Stevens Creek and Winchester intersection knows it’s bumper-to-bumper gridlock.
San Jose Inside first reported about how much Federal Realty was paying for the 1 million square foot office development when the project was approved 15 months ago:
- $1 million in traffic impact fees
- $4 million for new traffic signals and roadway improvements
- $1 million for a “voluntary contribution” to the Valley Transportation Authority.
But now we learn there’s more to the story. The Left Hook reports that there will be 9,457 new vehicle trips generated by the project. That’s a lot of cars. The traffic impact fee should have been closer to $33 million according to San Jose’s own calculations, not $1 million. That’s a lot of money to give to a developer.
We hear that story set off some rumblings at Santa Clara city hall because the Mission City is suing San Jose over the Santana West development. This story should help Santa Clara’s cause.
The Left Hook also writes that they’re watching the Google negotiations with San Jose to see if developers and tech companies like Google will continue to get deals and fee waivers from the Garden City. Kudos to The Left Hook. If San Jose isn’t making developments pay their share of traffic improvements, other cities, like Santa Clara, will be negatively impacted. We see that at Stevens Creek and Winchester already. Let’s hope a legal win will make San Jose more responsible when it comes to development and traffic.