For years under former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and a previous city council, property owners and developers knew the score: When it came to getting industrial or commercial land rezoned for residential — well, good luck.
Now, real estate interests are about to test just how stiff the city's spine is when it comes to residential conversions under new political leadership.
In a flurry of general plan amendment requests submitted last week, project applicants want to rezone roughly 40 acres of commercial land throughout San Jose for homes. The proposals, about 10 in all, are more than observers can recall since the mayorship of Ron Gonzales, which ended in 2007.
Land-use changes are a perennially hot topic in San Jose, which has long wrestled with an imbalance between jobs and housing. The city's stance against conversions — solidified in the most recent general plan — came after years of liberal rezoning. Reed, city economic development officials and others argued that mix has left the city jobs-poor and housing-rich, contributing to the San Jose's fiscal troubles (because residences require expensive public services).
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