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Urban Villages – Critical for San Jose Growth


In order for San Jose to reach its goals of adding jobs and building housing, while also maintaining its Urban Growth Boundary, the city needs to build more urban mixed-use development within infill locations along key transit corridors. More than 60 of these planned growth areas areas in San Jose are identified in the General Plan as Urban Villages, and allow for significant residential, commercial and retail development along with community amenities such as parks and plazas, streetscape improvements, and public art. Urban Villages will provide walkable neighborhoods that can contribute to public life while reducing dependence on single-passenger trips for shopping, commuting and entertainment.

Although each busy intersection throughout the 180 square miles of San Jose has its own characteristics, an Urban Village Implementation and Amenity Framework was developed by OED and PBCE for City Council approval, after many months of research, consultant work and community and developer input, to guide the development process.

The Framework provides the community and developers with a simplified, transparent and predictable mechanism so that residential mixed-use projects can include construction of, or contribute towards payment for the amenities and additional public improvements identified in the Village Plans.

The Framework outlines a zoning framework that will provide a more streamlined entitlement process for development and establishes an Urban Village Amenities (UVA) program to ensure funding and/or the construction of amenities and public improvements identified through each Urban Village planning process.  The UVA would only be applied to market rate residential mixed-use development in Urban Villages, and not to wholly commercial projects, 100% deed-restricted affordable housing projects, signature projects, or planned development zonings and discretionary development permits on file prior to adoption of the Framework.

Key to the Framework is the formula developed to determine the number and scope of amenities required for each project, and the process for selecting amenities. Amenities include such items as public open spaces, community facilities, art installations, streetscape improvements, park facilities, etc. The calculation is designed to encourage developers to build the amenity into the project, as developers are given more credit for building or providing an amenity as part of their project than the actual cost of constructing that amenity.

The next step, now that the Framework is approved, is for staff to bring forward for City Council consideration, updated implementation chapters for each of the approved Urban Village Plans that include a prioritized UVA list and a policy requiring residential mixed-use projects to conform to the Framework.

For details on the Framework, watch the May 22 City Council meeting. You can also read the full staff Memorandum.