Industrial Land Conversion Showdown: Debate Over San Jose Housing Proposals Reaches Boiling Point
San Jose’s land-use battle over industrial-to-residential conversions reaches a climax today as the city council takes up a controversial proposal to rezone the longtime home of O.C. McDonald Co. Inc. and Mel Cotton’s Sporting Goods in Midtown.
The proposal, from developer Michael R. Van Every’s Republic Urban Properties, is the last conversion request standing after a slew of others ran into a buzzsaw of opposition in recent weeks and withdrew.
On its own, the 4.6-acre development site on West San Carlos Street — which is currently zoned commercial — would not generate much interest. But this is land zoned for jobs, and a new council is making decisions. City staff and Mayor Sam Liccardo have taken a stand to set the tone on this issue and prevent their chief concern of a “domino effect”: Allow this conversion, they say, and the city will open the floodgates to rezonings, giving up prime jobs-creating land and worsening San Jose’s already substantial jobs deficit. It's unclear just how the council vote may shake out.
The temperature got turned up on the debate on Friday, when Councilman Don Rocha released a blistering memo drawing attention to Liccardo's support for what Rocha termed two land conversions last year. Rocha also took issue with an April 30 Mercury News editorial that he said tried to “hammer the rest of us into line” while cutting off “a worthwhile policy discussion.”
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