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Imminently concerned: A local view of eminent domain
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Senate bill would blunt property ruling
Conference on Redevelopment Abuse
San Jose, California. 95103
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:: RETURN TO FRONTPAGE NEWS ::
January 11, 2005
CONTROVERSIAL PARKS PROPOSAL
San Jose's parks department proposes to allow "developer park in lieu fees" diverted from public park development to many kinds of other outdoor projects, including mountain bike trails, equestrian trails, dog runs, and structures to house theater productions and dance recitals. This covers redevelopment agency property as well as other city areas. The controversial proposal was presented in public for the first time at a parks commission meeting on 11/3/04 with no notice to neighborhood associations, no publicity about the proposal, and no input aside from a very small set of developers.
PROPOSAL ON FAST TRACK
SUBSTANCE OF PROPOSAL
Right now, city policy requires (whether under the redevelopment agency, or under regular city rules) that no fewer than three acres of park be dedicated by developers for every 1,000 new residents who will live in the developer's new housing project. City rules provide that the developer may pay in lieu fees to the city if they think they cannot afford the land for the new park.
In practice this means that developers very rarely provide adequate parks on site of new housing projects, and instead negotiate in lieu fees with the city which are paid into a park trust fund and languish there for up to five years. The park trust fund now amounts to approximately $100,000,000 in unspent fees, and the city appears very unwilling to use these funds to develop public park lands.
ADDITIONAL EFFECT OF PROPOSAL
We badly need adequate parklands for young and old people -- we do not need to engage in community brawling over which project should receive funding. Let's keep a clear mind about this proposal, and ask the city council to maintain the present long-standing policy of using "developer park in lieu fees" for parks.
The city council committee ("Driving A Strong Economy Committee") will consider the proposal on 1/24/05 at 3:00 PM in room 204 of city hall. This is probably the most important hearing to attend if you can attend only one. At this meeting you will see city council members discuss and vote. They will allow only two minutes for any testimony so if you have remarks of longer duration, please bring written comments for the record.