April 15, 1992
By Yolanda Reynolds
On Wednesday evening, the San Jose Planning Commission heard a number of Alum Rock business people express their objections to the request of the San Jose Redevelopment Agency to amend the Alum Rock Redevelopment Plan. The Agency wants the Plan to be extended to December 31, 1992 and to reinstate eminent domain powers, in order to allow for the development of the Mexican Heritage Gardens Project.
The Mexican Heritage Gardens Project is planned for construction at the corner of Alum Rock and King Road. It will ultimately include 8.2 acres at that corner.
There are a number of businesses and residences that would be displaced if the project is constructed at that corner. Those businesses are: Bayshore Radiator, George’s Towing and George’s Body Shop, G&F Auto Sales; there are also three residences, a trailer and one duplex, altogether housing nine tenants. Mr. Paul Garcia is owner of several of the residential properties these properties as an investment for retirement income. In addition, the EDD property is privately owned.
The largest existing building on that property is that occupied by the Employment Development Department (EDD). Currently sixty employees work there. The location has been good for that office but it may be moving to a large site (which it needs), in order to properly serve San Jose.
San Jose with a population of over 780,000, has only one BDD ofﬁce in the City. The San Jose ofﬁce is expecting to grow, in the near future from its current 60 employees to almost one hundred employees in order to better serve the needs of San Jose residents.
Mr. Avalos, San Jose EDD manager, says that the Alum Rock location has been excellent for the clients the office serves because of its location and because It is bordered by two corridors with excellent mass transit service. The Office has at least two hundred clients coming to that office every day.
At Wednesday evening’s meeting, the request for the amendment of the Alum Rock Redevelopment plan was again deferred. It had already been deferred from a previous meeting on March 25. This time the Commission felt that there was not enough information for them to make a decision.
The property owners that are facing displacement say that they welcome the Mexican Heritage gardens but, they say that, they do not understand why the City has chosen that particular site, when the City owns outright other property nearby that would not necessitate the displacement of several businesses that have been in existence since 1934.
According to a report prepared by the consultants, there are ﬁve other sites available. Some of the other sites considered were the Alum Rock School Properties, Mark’s Hot Dogs & Club Metro, the Korean 1st Baptist Church, the press Tavern and Mayfair in addition to the EDD Building and the adjacent properties. The consultants are Trust for Public Land.
Other locations that were considered to be good locations along with the EDD and adjoining properties were; the Alum Rock School Properties (which the consultants felt would be difficult to assemble and costly to purchase; Mark’s Hot Dog & Club Metro Properties, which the consultants say may even be for sale; The Korean First Baptist Church (4-6 acres), which is for sale or trade and would not require the displacement of businesses and could possibly expand on to adjoining properties (it is also cheaper than Alum Rock property). The consultants say that the Baptist Church properties could still cost at least $2.3 to $2.7 million.
The Press Tavern Properties were also considered on Alum Rock and is also for sale. It is, however, the smallest site (though in time other properties nearby might be purchased for expansion). This parcel of property borders Silver Creek, which the consultants say could have a “distinct appeal for a prospective garden.”
Another location is the Mayfair Park site, which has the best advantage according to the consultants, because it is already owned by the City and is a large parcel, approximately 20 acres. The biggest obstacle would likely be neighborhood opposition to more intensive use of the park and poor access to the park site on Kammerer, although the park has fairly good access on San Antonio.
The Commission deferred making a final decision for thirty days. They wanted to wait they had time to study the various questions raised by the property owners who face displacement at the corner of Alum Rock and King Road.
The Redevelopment Agency had anticipated that the Planning Commission would approve the requested extension and had scheduled Redevelopment Agency Board approval of the Six Amendment of the Alum Rock Redevelopment Plan for the April 16 meeting. The Agency Board (the City Council) will meet at 1:30 p.m. that afternoon. Taylor’s memo to the Agency Board, written March 31, says that. “On April 8,1992. The Planning Commission adopted the preliminary Plan for the Amendment of the Alum Rock Redevelopment Area.” That failed to happen on April 8.
One of the property owners on Alum Rock Avenue, Mr. Seitz, owner of George’s Towing, says that he does not want to move his business from this current location on Alum Rock. He says “I have been a good businessman and adds, that in all of the years that he has been in business, he has only once been in small claims court and then he won the decision. That, he says, “speak to my way of doing business – in addition, people whose cars I have towed away regularly come back to do business with me is – no small credit to the manner in which I have served this community over the time I have been in business, which is almost 40years.”
The next scheduled date for a decision regarding the Alum Rock Redevelopment/Heritage Gardens Project will be April 16 1:30 pm. At the City Council Chambers in City Hall at 801 North First Street. © La Oferta Newspaper.