Dog park, frisbee golf eyed for homeless encampment near San Jose airport
City must first find solution for more than 100 people still living on lot
A 40-acre homeless encampment where 100 people live near San Jose’s airport may turn into a dog park, disc golf course and public garden.
San Jose Council members unanimously approved the plan as they seek to address the Federal Aviation Administration’s order to vacate the lot by June 30, the Mercury News reported. The city is still grappling with clearing the site because housing options are limited and is set to vote in April on whether to ask the FAA for more time.
“All of our ambitions with this park are certainly worthy, but the most critical aspect is dealing with the human need that is there on display in the park,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said during a City Council discussion.
The city council also voted on a plan to curb vehicle usage of the nearby Guadalupe River Trail, where the homeless are encroaching on a path intended for pedestrians and cyclists. City staff are proposing bollards along the eight entrances.
The park and vehicle prevention plan would cost $3.75 million in one-time funds and another $1.75 million in ongoing funds. The city has already allocated $2.63 million for the park.
The encampment site, which was purchased by the city to serve as a buffer between residents and the airport in the case of an accident, can’t be used for housing. If the city doesn’t vacate the lot, it stands to lose millions of dollars in federal funding.
Because of a housing shortage, San Jose officials had previously looked to increase density in single-family areas, going a step further than Senate Bill 9, which doubles the number of residential units allowed in single-family zoned lots. The University of California Berkeley’s Center for Housing Innovation found that about 40,000 market-feasible new units could be created in Santa Clara county under SB9.