San Jose District 4 Transportation Issues

The special election to select the San Jose CA District 4 City Council is coming up on April 7, 2015. This map shows the D4 boundaries, which includes Berryessa, Alviso, and North San Jose.

San Jose CA District 4

This is the seat vacated by Kansen Chu on his inauguration to the California Assembly. You may recall Chu infamously introduced that bill to require white flashing tail lights on bicycles. Can District 4 voters select somebody a little more knowledgable on bicycle safety and other transportation issues this time around?

I Walk / I Bike / I Vote says they’ll have a questionnaire for the nine candidates running for D4 within a week. Most of the candidates say little about transportation, traffic safety and land use in their online materials, so I’m curious about their answers. In the meantime, I scoped out a couple of those running for D4.

Among the nine candidates, Johnny Lee has distinguished himself with his unapologetic promotion of more freeways to ease congestion. He wants to “upgrade” the 880/101 interchange and the 880/237 interchange, foolishly believing these will allow free flowing traffic. He also wants to add lanes on I-680 and Highway 101 through San Jose.

Most of the other candidates don’t address transportation directly, but, like Lee, they seem to have a naive view of how nuanced and interconnected their world is. As a group, they seem unaware of the heavy, transit oriented mixed use development taking place right now in District 4, especially along the North First corridor and around the new BART station construction now underway through D4, and how these will completely change transportation flow throughout this part of San Jose.

The two standout candidates are Timothy Orozco and Lan Diep. Both Orozco and Diep demonstrate understanding of issues and a capability to work well with others. I predict a run-off between those two. Diep is the Republican, pro-business candidate endorsed by the Mercury News, while Orozco has the backing of the unions and the Sierra Club.

What bicycling, transportation, traffic safety, and land use questions would you include in a candidate question for District 4?


  1. I read there was over a half billion dollars allocated to widen roads in north San Jose as part of the EIR to increase the north 1st density. This plan included virtually no money to improve transportation options.

    (1) Given the new CEQA rules now prioritize VMT reduction over LOS, and EIRs yet to be implemented would fall under the new prioritization, would the candidates support re-addressing the LOS sections of the EIR under the new rules?

    (2) Under the current plan, north SJ is heading toward a dramatic increase in density, while at the same time purposely increasing car dependence. Could the candidate given an example of a place that dramatically increased density and car dependence at the same time and had a positive outcome?

    (3) The current plans I believe resulted from a lawsuit against SJ over the north 1st street plan by Santa Clara, claiming it would result in lower LOS in Santa Clara. This was long before Levi stadium though, which has likely had a far greater impact on LOS in both Santa Clara and north San Jose. Would the candidate support re-negotiating the original agreement with Santa Clara based on the recent development of Levi’s stadium, in lieu of a counter suit?

    Needs lots of research, but this is just what I remember from when I looked into the issue last year. I can’t find that EIR at the moment, but I think the price tag for the road widening proposals was ~540 million. The current plans for the north 1st street area seem to combine the worst features of suburban design with the worst features of urban design, into some kind of nightmarish hybrid dystopia.

  2. You have an impressive memory. The county and the cities of Milpitas and Santa Clara all filed suit against the city of San Jose, which began planning for dense development in north San Jose. The settlement with Santa Clara County for San Jose to pay to widen Montague Expressway to eight lanes, and to “improve” the interchanges for Montague at Highway 101 and at Mission College.

  3. Is the candadite willing to current transit dollars( if possible ) to connect lower pennetencia creek bike trail to the new bart station?

    Same funding question to improve Bike access to the great mall via yosemite drive, currently you need to go to montague to capital to get over the train tracks. Just something like a gate into the back of the great mall would work. If you look at the map all the people east of 680 are cut off from an easy pleaston way to get to the great mall part/transit center. Billions on Bart but zero to get there? Contrast this with the contra costa / ironhorse bike trails that hook up with Walnut Creek Bart. At that station there are hundreds of bikes parked on commute days. Well thats really Milpitas . Same question though addressed toward capital ave. Morill, Trimble road pedestrian overpass. This could use work. Also, is a natural way to get to GM bart station.

  4. Looks like Orozco is going to win. I wonder what the interest is in him from the Sierra Club.

    From Sierra clubs transportation policy, they say…

    “Reducing vehicle miles traveled per person by increasing public transit use, fostering compact communities with transportation choices (rail, bus, walking, biking), and by cutting the number of car trips taken.”

    Is there maybe an opportunity for a coalition with a ‘green team’ to advocate for district 4 transportation issues.

    Sounds encouraging.

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