In 2018, the District 10 Council Office worked with both the City of San Jose’s Housing Department and Parks, Recreation, and Neighborhood Services Department to preserve the parcel of land on the north east corner of Almaden Expressway and Colman Road to add it to the Almaden Lake Park. This parcel is referred to as “Sycamore Terrace” because that is the name of the higher density housing development that was potentially planned for that location. But those plans were made prior to the Great Recession of 2008/2009 and over the years changes to the surrounding area, such as the increase in the speed limit to 50 MPH, increased traffic due to other nearby housing developments, and the increased riparian setbacks, made the parcel unsafe and undesirable for building housing.
Part of the process of adding this parcel to Almaden Lake Park was winning a grant from the SCC Open Space Authority of approximately $300,000. The grant stipulated that the area only be used for passive engagement, so no skate parks or other active development. In 2019, plans were developed to create a walking path and add benches, more sycamore trees and other native plants, as well as some interpretive signage. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the plans were delayed, and construction began in early 2021, with the goal of being complete by June.
However, our Environmental Services Department (ESD) is under legal obligation to create water catchment on City-owned public lands. This is their Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) program, which was approved by Council in 2019. GSI is a system where stormwater runoff is slowed, infiltrated, used, and/or treated using vegetation, soils, and natural processes to manage water runoff and create healthier environments. You can learn more about this city-wide plan at https://www.sanjoseca.gov/your-government/environment/our-creeks-rivers-bay/green-infrastructure
Since the Sycamore Terrace parcel will never be anything other than open space now, Staff has added it to the list of parcels they are considering for the GSI program to see if it can be used to help the City meet this obligation. There are concerns about maintenance of the plantings, so it doesn’t become just a dirt bowl, or a goopy swamp, as well as other environmental concerns – are we harming the environment in order to save the environment? Public Works (PW), the department charged with executing the GSI program plans, will have to work through all those issues and questions to eventually figure out if this location is feasible or not. Their study isn’t expected to be complete until the end of this year. So, for now, nothing else will happen on the project, and the current development project has been halted and put on hold. Public access to the parcel is still restricted until these details are worked out and construction of either project is completed.