How do we help Ukrainians or our homeless residents? What will the Coyote Valley Monterey Corridor look like? These are some of the questions the San Jose City Council tried to answer at its March 8 meeting.
City Council unanimously approved a $2.85 million contract with Goodwill of Silicon Valley to expand the San Jose Bridge Program, which creates transitional employment and living wage opportunities for San Jose residents in homelessness. The contract, paid for with US bailout dollars, will allow the program to be expanded to 150 people who will be housed in temporary accommodation while they work.
“The target population is people living in encampments,” said Kelly Hemphill, the city’s homelessness response manager. “Right now the focus is on people living along the Guadalupe River.”
Women and survivors of gender-based violence will also be prioritized, Hemphill added.
The program will have two phases. The first is a fast-paced job, where all participants will become Goodwill employees and earn $18.50 an hour as cleaning crews in San Jose neighborhoods and parks. They will work 20 hours a week.
About half will progress to the second phase, which is vocational training for long-term paid employment. They will earn $24.07 with health benefits or $25.31 an hour without benefits and work 40 hours a week.
Around 80% of all participants will be able to secure housing through LiveMoves – the city hopes to expand this to all participants in the coming months.
Coyote Valley Corridor Study
San Jose wants to transform the Coyote Valley and the Monterey Corridor. The vision: to become the “southern gateway to the city”.
On Tuesday, council members approved the study of how the city should rezone and use the land for non-residential purposes. Ideas include wineries and beer gardens, restaurants, small bed and breakfasts, farmers’ markets, affordable housing for farm workers, and other agricultural uses.
The community outreach and study is estimated at approximately $475,000 and will take 18-20 months. Council member Sergio Jimenez, who represents the region, urged the council to include this cost in the next budget cycle. He also emphasized the inclusion of long-time local landowners and farmers in the planning.
Several landowners expressed support at the meeting, but also lobbied the city.
Ken Saso, a multi-generational farmer and landowner on the east side of the Monterey Freeway, said he appreciated Jimenez’s note asking landowners to be part of the planning.
“I look forward to working with unbiased people and will be available to make this a fair and equitable process that everyone will be proud of because this is San Jose’s southern gateway,” Saso said during the meeting.
Ukraine and Russia
Despite calls to cut ties with San Jose’s sister city, Yekaterinburg, Russia, council members voted unanimously to send a letter advocating peace and supporting residents who are rising up against President Vladimir Putin.
Learn more about what San Jose is doing to support Ukraine.
Emma Prusch Park Improvements
The city has awarded a $3 million contract to improve the Emma Prusch Farm Park in East San Jose. Construction is expected to begin in May and be completed in early 2023.
The developer, Robert A. Bothman Construction, will build an all-inclusive playground with amenities to meet the needs of people with special needs, including those with autism, visual/hearing impairments, and developmental and physical disabilities.
Councilwoman Magdalena Carrasco, who represents District 5 where the park is located, is thrilled with the plans.
“It’s going to be such an amazing experience for our families,” Carrasco said. “The playground will be another highlight for our residents.”
Obstacles to building affordable housing
Council members voted to explore reducing building taxes and other measures to incentivize developers. Learn more about how this could ease some of the barriers to building affordable housing in San Jose.
A council member organizes a forum of mayors
District 9 council member Pam Foley will host a mayoral candidates forum on March 14 from 6:30-8 p.m. The purpose of the forum is to “ask questions that will help voters differentiate perspectives and positions between different candidates,” according to Foley. This will not result in an endorsement.
Contact Jana Kadah at [email protected] or @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.