San Jose on Time Magazine in the year 2040

I participated in a preliminary planning meeting for the planned update of San Jose’s General Plan. These updates are due every 15 years, and starting now makes it possible to make the 2009 deadline.

I emphasized four points:

  • The General Plan should control Specific Plans, so the Coyote Valley Specific Plan should not be approved before the the General Plan is revised. After the revision is complete, the City can revisit whether it should go forward with Coyote Valley.
  • There are thousands of acres of City jurisdictional land outside of the Urban Service Area where the City has no plans for development. Current residential zoning is completely inappropriate and an invitation to sprawl. The City should either de-annex these lands, reverting them to County control, or should redesignate them as “Open Space.”
  • The review should examine how much of the City’s industrial land has been rezoned to other uses. Given the City’s constant reference to the lack of employment in the City as a reason for expanding into Coyote Valley open space, the City should examine whether that lack of employment is a self-inflicted wound.
  • The City’s Riparian and Wildlife protection policies have loopholes that have been repeatedly exploited. The City should do a “Best Practices” comparison between its policies and those found in other cities, and update its policies to reflect the best found elsewhere.

Also as part of the process, City Staff asked us to imagine that San Jose was the cover story in a Time Magazine issued in 2040 for being the “best-managed” American city, and then describe the magazine’s cover. This is what I gave them:

Time Magazine
Earth Day, 2040

San Jose: Wildlife City

From the “Everglades of the West” to hiking trails among the mountain wildflowers of Coyote Ridge, San Jose has promoted urban access to wildlife. Can other cities copy its protection of urban river steelhead, and migration corridors for Tule Elk?

Let’s hope it becomes true!


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