SAN JOSÉ, Calif. — February 13, 2017 — The Rose Center for Public Leadership, jointly operated by the National League of Cities (NLC) and the Urban Land Institute (ULI), is working this week with San José Mayor Sam Liccardo to advise the City on innovative strategies for transforming the North San José area into a vibrant, urban, mixed-use employment district.
“The competitiveness and on-going success of our premier employment center will depend on the sense of place that is created in North San José,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo. “We have a rare opportunity to create a vibrant, walkable, pedestrian- and transit-friendly environment, most appealing to millennials and others who crave an urban experience.
“I wish to thank the Rose Center for Public Leadership for choosing to help the City with this endeavor. We have to seize upon whatever limited time may remain in this development cycle to spur the development of amenities that can transform our streetscape, and accelerate North San José’s prominence to attract the young talent that our companies need.”
The North San José Area—San José’s premier employment center with a high concentration of global technology companies—comprises about 4,850 acres. Bounded by Route 237, Highway 101, and Interstate 880, it is accessible to the Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport, an existing light rail line and planned BART station, and the Guadalupe River and planned Coyote Creek trail systems.
San José is the largest US city that has a smaller day-time population than night-time population, effectively functioning as a bedroom community. Only 15 percent the city’s total land area is designated in the City’s General Plan for employment uses, largely due to the conversion of older industrial properties over time for housing and other non-employment uses. This imbalance has contributed to significant fiscal, economic and environmental challenges for San José and quality of life challenges for San José, Silicon Valley, and the San Francisco Bay metropolitan area over the past three decades.
The North San José Area Development Policy, adopted by the City in 2005 to further strengthen San José’s jobs and revenue goals, accommodates up to 26.7 million square feet of new office/ R&D development, 32,000 new residential units, 2.7 million square feet of new retail, and 1,000 hotel rooms. The City’s plans have faced significant implementation challenges since then, of which include: the state’s dissolution of redevelopment agencies in 2011 (after which the City had to assume financial responsibility for $519 million of planned public infrastructure investments in North San José); slower-than-anticipated commercial/ industrial development; and lower-density residential development in the initial phase that so far have yielded an auto-oriented office district with fewer amenities than employees and residents desire.
“Cities across the country face roadblocks when working to implement well-laid plans,” said Rose Center Director Jess Zimbabwe. “San José is taking a forthright look at how to rethink a planned district, and the innovative solutions that they develop will be of interest and value to other cities across the country.”
The Rose Center’s mission is to encourage and support excellence in land use decision-making by providing public officials with access to information, best practices, peer networks, and other resources to foster creative, efficient, practical, and sustainable land use policies. Each year, the center’s Daniel Rose Fellowship program invites the mayors of four large U.S. cities to select a team with land use decision-making authority to receive technical assistance on a local land use challenge. This year’s fellowship class is from the cities of Anchorage, Alaska; Grand Rapids, Mich.; San José, Calif. and Washington, D.C.
“Local leaders play a critical role in land use decision-making and plan implementation,” said Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and executive director of National League of Cities (NLC). “We are excited to work with Mayor Liccardo through the Rose Center to help transform North San José into the vibrant mixed-use employment district the city intended it to be.”
The City of San José anticipates that the Rose Center’s advice and ideas will help bring about retail and other amenities to transform this campus-style employment area as envisioned by the City’s plans.
“The Rose Center has an excellent track record of helping cities reinvent themselves to be more vibrant, livable and successful,” said Urban Land Institute Global Chief Executive Officer Patrick L. Phillips. “We look forward to the recommendations from the Center’s advisers on how to help implement the City’s vision for North San José with a strategy that provides new employment opportunities and gathering places that result in long-lasting benefits for the entire community.”
Mayor Liccardo’s team includes Rose Fellows Rosalynn Hughey, Assistant Director of the Department of Planning, Building & Code Enforcement; Nanci Klein, Assistant Director of Economic Development/ Director of Real Estate of the Office of Economic Development; John Ristow, Deputy Director, Planning & Project Delivery of the Department of Transportation; who are assisted by long-range planner Kimberly Vacca in the Department of Planning, Building & Code Enforcement.
The panel will be co-chaired by San José’s Rose Fellowship faculty advisers: development consultant Marilee Utter, president of Denver-based Citiventure Associates and Nolan Lienhart, principal and director of planning and urban design at ZGF Architects in Portland, Ore. It also includes Rose Fellows from the other three cities in this year’s class: Chris Schutte, director of the Office of Community and Economic Development for the Municipality of Anchorage; Andrew Trueblood, chief of staff for the Office of Planning and Economic Development for the District of Columbia; and Kara Wood, managing director of Economic Development Services for the City of Grand Rapids. Also serving on the panel are project designer Juan Calaf with Seattle-based Rolluda Architects; Anthony Chang, vice president for asset management at Washington REIT in D.C.; Yong Cho, a principal with Denver-based Studio Completiva; Sean Crumby, City Engineer and deputy director of the Department of Public Works for the City of Long Beach, Calif.; and Ana Gelabert-Sanchez, an independent planning consultant, design critic at Harvard University and the former planning director of Miami, Fla.
The panel will be briefed by Mayor Liccardo and his team, tour the study area and meet with community, business and civic leaders and other local experts; representatives from the local development community, ULI San Francisco district council and its Silicon Valley committee; and other stakeholders. Drawing upon their professional expertise and experience, the panelists will apply the information gathered during the study visit and present recommendations for how the City, its partners and stakeholders can achieve their goals for the area. All of San José’s expenses to participate in the program—including the panel’s visit—are underwritten by the Rose Center to ensure objectivity during the process.
The Daniel Rose Fellowship is the flagship program of the Rose Center, established in 2008 by the ULI Foundation Governor Daniel Rose. The purpose of the program is to provide city leaders with the insights, peer-to-peer learning, and analysis needed to successfully improve their cities. The fellowship’s program of work includes a study tour of another U.S. or foreign city, working retreats at NLC’s and ULI’s national conferences, and study visits to each of the four fellowship cities. The cities of Austin, Texas; Birmingham, Ala.; Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Denver; Detroit; Hartford, Conn.; Honolulu; Houston; Indianapolis; Kansas City, Mo.; Long Beach, Calif.; Louisville, Ky.; Memphis, Tenn.; Minneapolis; Nashville, Tenn.; Oakland, Calif.; Omaha, Neb.; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Pittsburgh; Portland, Ore.; Providence, R.I.; Rochester, N.Y.; Sacramento, Calif.; Seattle; Tacoma, Wash. and Tampa, Fla. have participated in the previous seven years of the program.
NOTE TO EDITORS AND REPORTERS: Representatives of the Rose Center will be making a public presentation with preliminary findings and recommendations from 9-11 a.m. PST on Thursday, February 16 at San José City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., in rooms 118 & 119.
About the National League of Cities
The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.
About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the institute has 40,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines. For more information, please visit uli.org or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.