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Herhold: San Jose Shouldn’t Lose Its Commercial Land

You can tell when a topic gets really, really heated at San Jose City Hall, incandescent white in a world of gray.

A council member will put out a memo that attacks not only an opposing position, but the Mercury News, demanding that the council be given room to make its own decision.

That’s what happened over the weekend with Councilman Don Rocha, who has probably set the record for bristling and unpleasant memos in his four-years-plus on the council.

All of this has to do with a site that a lot of old-timers in San Jose know well — the block that includes plumbing contractor O.C. McDonald and Mel Cotton’s Sporting Goods on San Carlos Street.

A plan the City Council is scheduled to consider Tuesday could eventually allow for as many as 200 apartments on a 4.1-acre site on the south side of San Carlos between Lincoln Avenue and Race Street.

For that to happen, the city would have to convert the land’s designation from industrial/commercial to housing, a process discouraged by the city’s general plan.

This might sound dull to you. But there is very little the council does that is more important than land use. Essentially, the city is being asked to pawn one of its crown jewels.

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