January 10, 1990
By Yolanda Reynolds
There is a short and long form. The short form asks 14 standard questions, the long form asks 59 questions and is asked of a sampling of the people. The short form asks about household relationships, sex, race, age, year of birth, marital status, Hispanic (ethnic) origin, type of housing unit owned or if in rented housing.
The long form sampling of the households will also ask about housing characteristics, citizenship, education, ancestry, residence five years ago, language, military service, disability, labor force participation, transportation, and income.
The actual Census Count will begin April 1 and end October 31, 1990. By the end of December 1990, the impact of the census count will begin because, at that time, the gathered statistics will be turned over to the President of the United States. By April 1991, all U.S. States can expect to receive the census data that will provide the basis for legislative redistricting. Redistricting will also occur in local governmental areas. San Jose City Council Districts will be redrawn.
Recent INS actions have made even long time Latino residents fearful of public officials. INS actions in California and other states having large Latino and ethnic communities have been terrifying. There is a very real fear in the community of “official” or government workers. This at a time when we must open our doors to the census takers in order to make sure we receive the services which we are entitled.
Ed Murillo, one of two Census Recruiters in Santa Clara County states that for this reason, it is important that people be hired to work on the census who are familiar with and known to the community in which they will work.
For our community much is at stake in this census. The under count in the last census must be averted. U.S. Congressman Don Edwards, Norm Mineta and other local political leaders are working very hard to assure that an accurate census be made, particularly here in California. According to Terry Posche, Aide to Don Edwards, his office is requesting that the INS cease and desist activities in communities that have a high predominance of Hispanic and ethnic residents.
Ed Murillo says that we must all be counted so that our communities receive their fair share of services… that will improve the quality of life for all.
More families in downtown San Jose are scheduled to be displaced. This time it is the Santa Clara Water District (SCWD) whose plans, in coordination with the Guadalupe River Park Project, requires the removal of homes and businesses.
The SCWD report entitled “Relocation and Las Resort Housing Plan” details the Project’s purpose and the relocation plan. The SCWD is the local sponsor for the Army Corp of Engineers’ plan for flood control improvements of this federally sponsored program. According to the report the SCWD is responsible for all nonfederal costs including land acquisitions and relocations.
The report states that the purpose of the river project is to “reduce the incidence of flooding in the downtown area. This, to be accomplished by the physical widening and straightening of the existing river channel.”
It’s interesting that flooding is still a problem in the downtown area. In a book entitled “Signposts” by Patricia Loomis, a former News reporter, regarding the name “River Street” – Loomis wrote – “Today flood control practices such as widening the Guadalupe and construction have saved little River Street from further dunks.” This book was published in 1982.Scheduled for demolition of 47 dwelling units housing of people ranging in age 10 years to 71 and also businesses. A fuss was raised about demolishing the bar “Henry Hi-Life” and efforts were made to save it.
Almost half (46%) of the property owners and 40% of the renters are Hispanic. Most (80%) of the people living in the project area are renters. The median rental rate was $420.00. The “actual housing units are quite structurally sound for the most part but in need of some repairs.”
The Community was quite stable, with 52% of the renters living in the same location since a975. This perhaps attributable to the very reasonable rent fees. Homeowners, too, have lived in their homes a long time some as long as 50 years.
Though the rental households are primarily low income, none receive rental subsidies. There was very little unemployment, 4.2%. Many households because of the costs reported by not having telephones. 23% of the homes in the project area reported not having telephones vs. a 2% city average for homes without telephones.
According to the report, not much enthusiasm was shown for the suggested relocation sites. Perhaps it was because the residents have expressed satisfaction with their current location because of its nearness to their work and the availability of public transportation to schools, medical services and markets. Transportation was the highest concern of the families that would be displaced.
According to the SCWD Relocation Process Report there are certain guidelines to be followed in the relocation process. They are as follows:
- No initial or subsequent occupant will be required to relocate until a minimum of one comparable replacement housing unit has been made available to each household.
- Within a reasonable period of time, and at least 90 days prior to displacement, one comparable replacement dwellings (sic) will be offered or made available for each eligible displaced household.
- The District’s appraisal, acquisition and relocation program is adequate to provide orderly, timely, and efficient relocation of all persons to be displaced.
- Relocation payments will be made in the amount required for successful relocation.
Sofia Mendoza, housing advocate, says that she and other community advocates have been “beating City Hall leaders over the head about being fair when people on River Street are already being relocated, some homes are already boarded up by the Water District while others around the corner are unaware that they, too, will soon have to find a new place to live.”
Mendoza goes on to say “it is ironic that the people who live around the corner, are uninformed and are going to be moved out by the City… it’s not right… it’s unfair!”
The confusion generated in the community is reflected in the SCWD report which mentions “there are ongoing freeway, street widening, and other related projects in the San Jose area which create displacement on a moderate level… ( but that )… There is no known projects on a magnitude that would seriously compete for the relocation resources (types of units) needed for the displaces of this project during the anticipated displacement period of this phase.”
In another part of the report there is a vague reference to “other public projects in the area that may displace households concurrently.”
As there is little, if any, housing within San Jose that provides such affordable rental rates, the SCWD report suggests that displaces be awarded priority status among those seeking Section 8 Housing in order “to provide a more long term solution to their affordable housing needs.”
Recently, housing advocates filled the San Jose City Council Chambers at the December Council meeting, requesting immediate and creative solutions to the housing needs of an estimated 1,000 plus families that could be evicted from their apartments because of Section 8 subsidy regulations and cutbacks ordered by the Federal Government.
If the displaced renters cannot secure Section 8 housing (rental subsidy), they are limited to 42 months of rental assistance. It is unlikely that these families will be able to pay market rate rents even after four more years of work. Since this project is not under Redevelopment Law, there is no requirement for replacement of the Low/Moderate Income housing units this River Project will destroy.
The SCWD states that it does not have any obligation to residents in the project area if they move out of their homes before initial offers are made to the property owners. It is not clear how to SCWD will inform the renters of property purchase offer dates.
The report goes on to say that language assistance is required for 21 households, 20 of whom speak Spanish and one Vietnamese.
If further states that “The level of assistance for each displace will be determined by the needs of the displace unit in relationship to the overall project work load and program.”
This SCWD report was delivered in its Spanish Translation to community activist, Mendoza, Monday morning, December 18, 1989. The SCWD Report date of publish is uncertain. The report does state that hardship acquisitions and relocation began in 1987. The Relocation Plan is dated, Jan. 1988, and with relocation activities to begin April,1988 and the project area be “cleared and ready by April 1991.”
Of the twelve businesses located in their area, none wish to move from the immediate area. They feel that their customer base is within close range to their present location. One of the businesses has been in operation in its present location for 21 years.
From the illustration of the plan, it appears that. “Confluence Lake” is to be located where much of the housing that is to be removed now stands. According to the book entitled, “History of San Jose,” by Clyde Arbuckle: a Mayor Monahan built Guadalupe Lake in 1912 at the confluence of the Guadalupe River and Los Gatos Creek. According to Arbuckle the “plug was pulled in 1914” because neither of these streams had enough water to fill the lake in midsummer. Others who remember stories of the lake say it caused a major mosquito infestation in downtown San Jose.
Of more immediate concern and adding to the confusion is the Julian Stockton EIR whose Hearing date was Oct. 21 1987. Within this document, which received Council approval it states that “IMMEDIATELY NORTH OF WEST SANTA CLARA STREET, AT THE CONFLUENCE OF THE GUADALUPE AND LOS GATOS CREEK, THE RIVER PARK MASTERS PLAN INDICATES THE DEVELOPMENT OF ‘CONFLUENCE LAKE’ AS A HIGHLIGHT FEATURE OF THE ENTIRE GUADALUPE RIVER PARK. THE JULIAN STOCKTON REDEVELOPMENT PLAN, HOWEVER, SHOWS THIS AREA AS BEING DEVELOPED FOR CORE AREA COMMERCIAL AND COMBINED INDUSTRIAL/COMMERCIAL USES.’ Later the same document refers to the lake as a four acres lake for non-motorized boating and rowing.
According to the Guadalupe Master Plan Report published several years ago “a prominent developer in the Bay Area in proceeding with a multi million dollar office project between the River and state Route 87.”
The SCWD report states that “a citizens advisory committee is not required by Federal Regulations but that the SCWD encourages input from residents from the displacement area concerning the project.”
According to a local newspaper, the river project was planned under the direction of Redevelopment Chief, Frank Taylor. If the Project was admitted to be under Redevelopment sponsorship, by law, replacement housing would be required as would a Project Area Committee for resident input.
Housing advocates are very concerned that so much affordable housing has fallen in the path of various projects throughout the City. Some projects have caused great controversy and are considered to be of dubious merit.
When City officials are asked about the numbers of Hispanic families that have been displaced in “downtown San Jose” shoulders are shrugged. Answers are not available regarding the status of very low, low and moderate replacement housing… much needed as a consequence of the many ongoing “civic” programs… particularly Downtown Redevelopment.