This is a neat development project in San Jose and the sign of sign of similar trends to come with high density residential units. It’s the only way to manage the imblanace between supply and demand.
Plans to tear out the Caltrain parking lot on Lick Avenue to make way for up to 440 high-density residential units and 3,000 square feet of commercial space have neighborhood residents fretting about potential parking and traffic problems the project could spawn.
Before all that development occurs, they say the lot’s owner, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, should first build a proposed multi-level parking garage on adjacent property also owned by VTA.
The 6.96-acre Caltrain lot, which VTA has asked the city to rezone from light industrial to planned development, currently has 275 parking spaces–slightly more than the 262 spaces at the Tamien light rail parking lot right across Highway 87 on Lelong Street.
VTA has been planning for about a year to build a four- or five-story parking structure on the Tamien light rail lot. Agency officials said in an interview that the garage would provide 700 to 900 parking spaces.
But, they acknowledged, it’s still uncertain whether the parking structure or the housing development will be built first, or whether both will be built at the same time.
“That decision hasn’t really been determined yet,” said VTA senior planner Jennifer Rocci. “The ideal is that the parking structure would be done first.”
Rocci said the agency first must secure $17 million to build the garage– money that could come from a mix of state and local funds and possibly grants.
“The timing is just finding the right funding for the garage, but the big impetus would be to have the garage done before” the housing, she added.
Residents who attended a Nov. 2 open house meeting said parking is already an issue in their neighborhood and they worry that adding high-density housing will exacerbate the problem.
“I never get to park in front of my house; there’s always someone there,” said Rose Jimenez, who has lived on Lick Avenue for 40 years. She also said that traffic is often congested on nearby Willow Street.
A representative from Dahlin Group Architect, which is designing the proposed residential and commercial buildings, said parking for the development shouldn’t be an issue because private parking spaces will be provided.
Through social media, other some residents are saying that a loss of parking will force light rail and Caltrain users to hop back into their cars if the garage and housing development are both built at the same time and there’s inadequate parking at the Tamien station.
However, VTA officials told the Resident that riders already have other options.
“If they’re taking the train or light rail from the Tamien station, there’s a small parking lot on the Tamien side and a dirt lot on the Caltrain side, and people walk over to the light rail,” said agency spokeswoman Stacey Hendler Ross. She also noted that the lot at the Curtner light rail stop has 474 parking spots and there’s usually plenty of space.
“Generally, the lot is only about 30 to 40 percent utilized,” Hendler Ross said.
Although VTA has crunched the numbers on parking spaces, there are still some unanswered questions about the housing development, including whether it will include market rate or affordable units. However, Rocci said that ideally the smaller of the two buildings will be condominiums and the larger would be rental apartments.
Even though VTA had renderings at the meeting, no developer has yet stepped forward. Elizabeth Schuller, project manager with the city’s planning department, said VTA is “the only applicant at this time, so at the planned development permit stage that could change. But at this point there is no developer on board.”
A separate meeting about the Tamien parking garage is scheduled for Nov. 18 at the Elks Lodge on Alma Avenue.
Julia Baum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.