Old San Jose City Hall
August 29, 2018

Santa Clara County: County & Advocates Debate Future of Old City Hall Annex


Santa Clara County has announced plans to demolish the old San Jose City Hall Annex, which was acquired from the City following the dissolution of the San Jose Redevelopment Agency in 2011 and has stood empty for the past 12 years. As planned, the site would be used as a parking lot for County workers until it is redeveloped as a part of the broader Civic Center Master Plan.

Many homeless advocates and community members are rallying around an alternative use, arguing that the building would be better used as temporary housing for the County’s homeless population. A proposal submitted by Garden City Construction’s James Salata and supported by John A. Sobrato of The Sobrato Organization would house 120-140 homeless people and serve as a stopgap while new Permanent Supportive Homes (PSH) are constructed with County’s Measure A funds.  The project would be largely privately funded, though the proposers are asking for the use of the structure itself.  The Annex is near county services and adjacent to public transportation. It is also not directly adjacent to any residential neighborhood, decreasing the chance of pushback from nearby residents.

The County has stated that the building is not in a condition to be rehabilitated, especially for residential use. No maintenance has been completed in the 12 years it has sit vacant, and the six-story structure has serious problems, including water damage, roof issues, and air conditioning and heating that are beyond repair.  In addition, County officials have expressed the need for more parking to meet the demands from current County employees.

The County has scheduled action to consider bids for the building’s demolition at the Board of Supervisor’s Tuesday, September 11th meeting.  Advocates are preparing to show up at the meeting to oppose the demolition and support the use of the Annex as temporary housing.  Mayor Sam Liccardo has indicated his willingness to work with the County to develop a cost-effective adaptive re-use of the building for affordable housing.

While currently the Civic Center Master Plan does not include reference to housing, SV@Home is advocating for a mixed-use plan, with housing on the 40-acre site, including PSH homes for those now living on our streets. It six important to note that the Civic Center area is included in the North First Street Urban Village.  San Jose’s General Plan calls for 2,520 jobs and 1,678 dwelling units within the Urban Village.  Additionally, San Jose’s General Plan policies allow for 100% affordable housing to move forward prior to approval of the Urban Village Plan.  So, plans for housing could move forward sooner rather than later.

The agenda for the meeting will be posted on the County’s website, most likely on the 6th or 7th of September. We expect that the  Environmental Impact Report for the Civic Center Master Plan item will  be heard directly before the action on the demolition of the annex.

You can read more on the story here–  abc7 and the Mercury News.