San Jose Council approves SAP deal committing to oversupply Diridon parking (but with a loophole)

This afternoon, San Jose City Council approved an agreement to extend the lease with the SAP Arena operator for seven years from 2018 to 2025 with the opportunity to extend beyond to 2040.

The agreement enshrines in the term sheet with the Sharks a provision that was proposed as part of the Diridon Station Area Plan that could potentially require private developers to oversupply parking for Arena fans.
Diridon Parking Lot

Diridon Parking Lot

The city has a commitment to provide to the Sharks about 3,000 parking spaces within 1/4 mile of the arena, and about 6000 parking spaces within a 1/2 mile. Private developers building new commercial buildings on today’s surface parking lots would need to  open up their parking to be available for sports fans in the evening. Shared parking between businesses with needs at different times of the day is good, innovative and efficient.

Unfortunately, the provision could also require private developers to build more parking than the new building needs. For example, and office building which expected to have only half of its employees drive might need to provide more parking to accommodate the Sharks.    The extra parking requirements would reduce the amount of real estate available for valuable uses – jobs and housing, and would be drain on the economics of the developments.   And the extra parking would encourage workers and residents in the area to drive, rather than to use transit, bike, and walk – in an area that was intended to become an urban place with a much lower driving mode share.  This outcome would undermine one of the key goals of the Diridon Station Area Plan.

The agreement includes a “utilization analysis” – parking utilization will be reviewed every 3 years to assess appropriate amount of parking.  The agreement states that based on the utilization analysis the amount of parking the city and developers owe the Sharks could go down – but it also could go up.

Land use and transportation advocate Michele Beasley of Greenbelt Alliance, who participated in the organizing efforts on the Diridon Plan, suggested that the Arena participate in the Transportation Management Association being planned for the Diridon area, to develop plans to reduce driving by fans. For example, tickets could be sold including BART or Caltrain tickets.  Bicycle advocate Scott Lane encouraged improvements to bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and anticipated that a growing number of residents in new area housing would want to bike or walk to the arena.

At the Council meeting, several Council members, including Ash Kalra, who serves on the VTA and Caltrain boards, and new District 3 Council members Raul Peralez, who left his car in  his garage for bike month, spoke about the goals of the Diridon Plan transform the area for greater use of transit, bicycling and walking.  Mayor Liccardo specifically mentioned the “utilization analysis” as a provision that could bring the Sharks’ transportation use in line with the goals of the Diridon plan.

Hopefully, given the council and community interest in fulfilling the goals of the plan, the Arena can be successfully encouraged to change its transportation patterns over time. A strong example in the region is AT&T Park. When the Giants moved from Candlestick, where 90% of fans drove, the City of San Francisco worked closely with the Giants to create a plan for 50% of fans to get to the park without driving, a successful plan which is in practice today.  With the Arena as a partner, the city can achieve the goal of transforming the Diridon station area into an dense urban area were transit, walking and bicycling are the primary means of transportation