Task force criticizes plan

San Jose
– A plan offered by Mayor Ron Gonzales to set aside some of the
historical triggers for developing Coyote Valley in favor of

phasing of the willing

drew fire Monday night from the project’s task force.

There needs to be a sense of order to this,’ said Steve Speno,
of the development company Gibson
&
amp; Speno.

Don’t go with phasing of the willing. Start with the existing
infrastructure.

San Jose – A plan offered by Mayor Ron Gonzales to set aside some of the historical triggers for developing Coyote Valley in favor of “phasing of the willing” drew fire Monday night from the project’s task force.

“There needs to be a sense of order to this,’ said Steve Speno, of the development company Gibson & Speno. “Don’t go with phasing of the willing. Start with the existing infrastructure.”

As outlined in San Jose’s general plan, Coyote Valley development is contingent on the city having a five-year forecast of balanced or surplus budgets, a stable economic relationship with the state and 5,000 new jobs in North Coyote. But Gonzales has proposed rewriting the triggers to allow “phasing of the willing,” and one new residential unit for every two new jobs in Coyote Valley, in any increment.

The mayor’s plan also allows for a wide range of densities after the first 30 percent of build out, an idea criticized Monday night by task force member Craig Edgerton, of the Open Space Authority, who said the mayor’s plan creates competing interests.

“I understand the intent, but I don’t think it’s very well done,” Edgerton said. “Why not keep densities through the whole build out?”

The specific plan calls for an average residential density of 18 units per acre, but after the initial phase, homebuilders would be able to build at any density. Steve Schott Jr., of Citation Homes, said it’s important to allow builders to respond to customer demand.

“You need to stay flexible because of the marketplace,” Schott said. “I don’t know that you want to monitor it throughout because housing markets fluctuate over time depending on demand.”

There appears to be consensus among developers on the task force that the project will only work economically – initial infrastructure costs have been tagged at $1.5 billion – with major development at the outset.

Echoing comments he made last month when the mayor first unveiled his proposal, Dan Hancock, of Shappell Industries, said the plan requires a “relatively ambitious first phase.”

“We need to think big and brave and figure out a way to get this off to an important start,” Hancock said.

San Jose Budget Director Joe Guerra said that flexible development prevents developers who own land in Coyote that already receives sewer, water and other services from San Jose from having too much leverage over the city.

But Speno said a scattershot and incremental buildout gets away from the “smartgrowth” principles of the Coyote Valley specific plan, which envisions a transit– and pedestrian-friendly community of 25,000 homes, 50,000 jobs and 50,000 residents on the city’s southern edge.

“There needs to be a rhyme and reason and rationale that does not abandon those principles,” he said. [To start with the existing infrastructure] makes sense economically and in terms of sound land use principles.”

The next Coyote Valley task force meeting will be held in August. In late summer or fall, the task force will vote on whether to send part or all of the mayor’s proposal to the San Jose city council for adoption.

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