Despite opposition from neighbors and downtown businesses, San Jose lawmakers approved a plan to allow guests of a proposed 19-story hotel with more than 200 rooms to park off-site at a public parking garage.
The arrangement approved Tuesday between the proposed Almaden Corner Hotel and the city to allow hotel guests to use up to 41 parking spaces in the public Market & San Pedro Square parking garage for 10 years. The deal comes with one 10-year renewal option. The off-site parking will be provided to hotel guests via a valet service.
The project includes 1,200 square feet of ground floor retail, according to city planning documents.
But some downtown residents worry the plan will strip the public of much-needed parking slots in the heart of downtown, where parking is already scarce, and worsen traffic.
“The (environmental report) stated that the hotel with virtually no parking will generate nearly 2,300 additional vehicle trips per day. That lot has been vacant for decades. Why the rush, why right now?” downtown San Jose resident Bill Souders said during the meeting. “If you approve this, you will be responsible for scarring our downtown forever.”
Eugenia Verbeckmoes, chair of the land development committee for the Axis Homeowners Association, also objected to the parking plan which calls for the private use of a public facility.
“We as taxpayers paid for that garage,” she wrote in a letter to the City Council. “We paid for it to be an amenity for the public — not a benefit for a private entity. It is improper to misappropriate a public resource for such a purpose.”
In response to the concerns, Mayor Sam Liccardo said that San Jose’s future will be less dependent on cars as the city pushes transportation solutions to get people out of their cars. The mayor added that it’s important to invest in a city that is “not built for cars, but built for people.”
“We’re anticipating a changing world in which we’re not going to be depending on parking,” Liccardo said. “It’s quite reasonable to believe in 10 or 15 years from now that there’s going to be a lot of empty parking garages in a lot of cities that are going to make a lot of folks scratch their heads about how they can better utilize space.”
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