SAP Center Wants More Traffic Gridlock Near San Jose Diridon Train Station

SAP Center Parking Lot Full 
Courtesy Streetsblog San Francisco

Our group has learned from Streetsblog San Francisco that SAP Center – which owns the arena across from San Jose Diridon Caltrain Station – wants to build parking space for 20,000 more vehicles to support visitors for arena events.

The request comes on the heels of a San Jose City Council vote on the Diridon Train Station Area Plan. The plan aims to guide future development of the area surrounding the SAP Center and San Jose Diridon Train Station on the west side of downtown San Jose toward additional and future use of public transit, walking, and bicycling as an alternative to driving.

SAP Center management, in a letter to San Jose City Council, is not confident that 30 years of transit improvements around the arena neighborhood will bring additional visitors to the arena. This is why they want to build 20,000 more parking spaces in the area.

Background

For about the last four years, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and City Council have directed the initiation of a community engagement process for the Diridon Station Area. A map of the Diridon Station Area Plan is below:

 

According to the City of San Jose’s planning page for the Diridon Station area:

The City of San José, in coordination with the San José Redevelopment Agency, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, and other local and regional transportation agencies, are developing a plan for a half-mile radius around Diridon Station (approximately 500 acres of land). The objective of this process is to provide a vision and framework for higher intensity/transit-oriented development (TOD) in the area. We invite you to play an active role in shaping this vision.

The process involves developing a Station Area Plan around Diridon Station with related transit and station-area planning activities, and includes environmental clearance under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Diridon Station, already a major transit hub, with its location along the Union Pacific/Caltrain/Amtrak/Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) rail corridors, will become one of the busiest multimodal stations in California as a station of the proposed BART extension to Silicon Valley and the California High Speed Rail corridor (HSR) to San Francisco and Los Angeles.

However, SAP Center’s proposal to construct 20,000 additional parking spaces in the Diridon Station area threatens to negate all current and future public transit benefits. Worse, the proposal threatens to add up to 20,000 additional vehicles to traffic gridlock in downtown San Jose, especially during events at SAP Center. Imagine trying to walk, ride a bicycle, or drive amongst 20,000 additional vehicles coming and leaving the SAP Center area, and you will see that the SAP Center proposal makes no sense.

How Does This Issue Matter To Our Group?

For years, we have promoted our own guide of public transit options to many events at SAP Center via Twitter and Facebook. In fact, our guide mentions several VTA bus lines that have served SAP Center since it opened as the San Jose Arena in 1993.

If approved as part of the Diridon Station Area Plan, the 20,000 new parking spaces will undercut current VTA bus, light rail, and Caltrain ridership. As there are plans to serve SAP Center and Diridon Station area with High-Speed Rail and BART, the 20,000 new parking spaces will also undercut ridership on these future rail systems.

When Will the Decision Be Made?

The San Jose City Council is due to give a final vote on the Diridon Station Area Plan at its June 17 City Council meeting at 7:00pm. The vote takes place at the San Jose City Hall Council Chambers, 200 E. Santa Clara Street in San Jose. Several VTA bus lines stop nearby, and light rail is about two blocks away at the Santa Clara (Street) stop.

Can’t make it to the June 17 City Council meeting? You can view a webcast of the San Jose City Council meeting by clicking on the “Currently in Session” link at the webcast page.

San Jose City Council Member Sam Liccardo issued a memo requesting the final vote be deferred for a week. The request is based on a supplemental memo prepared by San Jose City Staff this week that answers questions and concerns about the Diridon Station Area plan.

What Is Our Group Doing?

A letter opposing the SAP Center extra parking proposal was sent to the San Jose City Council on June 10. We instead proposed a public-private partnership between SAP Center, the City of San Jose, VTA and Caltrain to increase and better advertise bus and rail service in the Diridon Station area, as well as more secure bicycle parking and access to the area.

What Can I Do Between Now and June 17?

Learn who represents you on San Jose’s City Council. This is especially true if you live or work in San Jose and visit the SAP Center for sporting or entertainment events.

Let your City Council member know that more buses, light rail, and train service with secure bike and pedestrian access is needed to ensure the Diridon Station Area Plan succeeds with as little parking as possible. One example need for increased late-night bus service in the Diridon Station area: increasing bus service frequency on the 181 express bus line between San Jose Diridon Station and Fremont BART station from every hour to every half hour between 9pm and 11pm. San Jose City Council members comprise five of the twelve (12) members on the VTA Board of Directors

Especially tied to the success – or failure – of the plan is San Jose City Council member Sam Liccardo, who is also running for Mayor. The Diridon Station Area plan is in his Council district. If you live or work in downtown San Jose, let Council Member Liccardo know how important good transit, biking and pedestrian access is needed as an alternative to driving in gridlock.

More information on this as circumstances and facts warrant…

Eugene Bradley
Founder, Silicon Valley Transit Users

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