Sharks seek a more car-centric Diridon Station Area

As the City of San Jose approaches approval of a major Google development in the Diridon Station Area, along with a set of projects and policies to reduce the share of driving trips to 25% in 2040, down from 60% today, the SAP Center and the Sharks have been urging City Council to maintain the car-centric transportation that sustained the Arena’s business since it was planned in the 1980s

On November 12, the Sharks sent a letter to fans urging them to oppose the proposal to reduce vehicle lanes on Santa Clara, Autumn and Montgomery, and to urge the city maintain a longstanding agreement in place since the 1990s to ensure that 4850 parking spaces are available within a third of a mile of SAP Center.  Google plans to buy land from the city currently used for surface parking for the arena.

The Sharks letter alleges that large amounts of parking will be needed in the future for Caltrain and BART, envisioning a future for downtown San Jose similar to the suburban past, and unlike the BART and Caltrain stations in downtown San Francisco that are designed for access by walking, biking and transit, and do not offer car parking. And the Sharks contend that Google is underestimating the amount of future car commuting by Google employees, although the tech giant manages downtown office locations with minimal car commuting. The Sharks assert that they may leave unless they are able to maintain the car-centric access and parking revenues that sustained the business in the past.

The urbanist think tank SPUR, in its letter to San Jose City Council for last week’s study session on November 16, urged the City to “maximize access for people, not cars. We have repeatedly recommended that the City prohibit new surface parking lots, adopt strict parking maximums and ensure new development is designed to promote access and connectivity to the public.”

SPUR’s letter highlights the urban transportation strategies and urban amenities of entertainment venues including LA Live, Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center and Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, supported by public transit and activities within walking distance. SPUR’s letter notes that “While the arena provides significant economic and community benefits, the physical structure is closed off from the surrounding area and there is significant space allotted for parking that should be repurposed for other community uses and to increase walkability.”  SPUR supports policies including parking maximums to encourage transportation other than driving, and recommends the closure of N. Autumn Street between Santa Clara Street and W. St. John Street in order to create a pedestrian mall seamlessly connecting the east side of the arena with Arena Green West.

The city of San Jose is currently seeking feedback regarding their Diridon Station Area Plan in a form at the bottom of this web page. There are other upcoming opportunities to provide feedback. Check out the City’s Diridon Planning site for activities including a Community Meeting on December 3, 2020 at 6:30PM.