Planning and Land Use

Planning and land use, with the related traffic, traffic calming and transportation issues, is of major importance to neighborhood associations, based the amount of time neighborhood association leaders spend on these issues and member surveys. Many neighborhood associations were specifically formed to address these concerns and issues in their neighborhood.

United Neighborhoods of Santa Clara County provides many workshops about major planning and land use issues, including complexities and terminology, best practices to address issues and concerns, and "how to" discussions about successfully working with developers, other neighborhood groups, planning departments and elected officials. These workshops are provided to educate member association leaders and members and as part of UNSCC's outreach mission to other neighborhood and community organizations

It takes significant, consistent neighborhood volunteer effort and time to achieve a reasonable understanding of the basic terminology, general and specific plan and zoning processes, procedures, and policies (written and unwritten), and to understand policies that are actually guidelines and the political process that heavily influences the outcome of any proposed development project.

We have found that those neighborhood associations who have been successful in influencing the planning and land use process to address their neighborhood concerns have done most, if not all, of the following:

  1. Organize a Planning and Land Use Committee
    This committee focuses the volunteer efforts of those who have an interest, can work together, educate themselves about the issues and develop and discuss politically reasonable solutions.
     
  2. Attend meetings and interact with public officials
    Leaders and members regularly attend Planning and Land Use workshops and Planning Commission and City Council meetings and meet with elected officials and city staff.
     
  3. Work together with other neighborhood association groups and community groups
    The association works with other associations to address large projects or city policy proposals and to develop position papers and comprehensive proposals that address each neighborhood's specific needs and the different types of neighborhoods (urban core, suburban and transit corridor), because each has neighborhood has different conditions, concerns and priorities. This prevents conflicts that arise when several neighborhood organizations adopt positions that conflict and force officials to adopt a "one size fits all" policy that does not address each neighborhood's needs.
     
  4. Support other neighborhood associations
    The association supports other neighborhood associations and their viewpoints and positions in public meetings, neighborhood associations. This builds consensus instead of causing other organizations to feel their valid concerns and positions are not supported.
     
  5. Host a website and email list
    A website provides information through a list of current proposed development projects, educational information and references. An active email list alerts neighbors about important public meetings with developers, Planning Commission and City Councils and provides a forum for in-depth, factual discussions with reasonable alternative proposals.
     

Ensuring consistent, well-organized, educated volunteer efforts and using websites and email as your primary communication tools are the keys to successful organization and advocacy for neighborhood associations. The typical neighborhood association that has not been successful has done few of the above recommendations, has inconsistently implemented the recommendations, or has waited until a major proposal occurs, then emotionally reacted with poorly written objections that are easily dismissed by city staff or elected officials because they only know them as the group who always shows up angry with inappropriate or unreasonable objections.

If it were easy, every association would have quickly implemented these recommendations a long time ago. The significant neighborhood volunteer effort to organize and advocate for neighborhood concerns and positions on planning and land use issues is worth the effort to preserve, enhance and improve each neighborhood's quality of life. This work allows your neighborhood to insist on great development and not accept poor or inappropriate development proposals and policies that will result in future neighborhood and city problems and infrastructure expenses. The work that you and many of your neighbors do will also protect your largest single investment, your home.

City of San Jose Online Planning/Santa Clara County County Property Information

San Jose Planning and Land Use Publications & Information

  • San Jose Council Public Outreach Policy 6-30
    www.sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/3892
    Do not assume that all city departments use the policy. The Parks Recreation and Neighborhood Services(PRNS) Departments have a separate policy. The Transportation Department, City Arborist, Public Works Department and other departments have not implemented the policy. As of August 2005, only the Planning Department and part of the Transportation Department use part of the policy.
    • On Site Signs
      Partially implemented for New projects after July 1, 2005
    • On Line Email Notification List
      Not implemented

     
  • Planning in San Jose: A Community Guide
    www.sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/317
     
  • 2010-2011 Bay Area Cost of Development Survey
    www.sanjoseca.gov/documentcenter/view/10566
    This report provides a city by city comparison of Development fees in the Bay Area and shows San Jose having below average fees compared to many other cities. The report lists individual city fees and development taxes (city development/zoning plan review), impact costs (street, sewer repairs/capacity additions etc) and capacity fees (park, library, street trees and sewage fees).
     
  • San Jose City Council District Maps
    www.sanjoseca.gov/index.aspx?NID=2039
     
  • City of San Jose Planning Maps & Data
    www.sanjoseca.gov/index.aspx?NID=1769

City of San Jose Residential Development Guidelines

Please Note: UNSCC is 100% managed and staffed by our member volunteers who research and add the information to our web sites. If your city is not listed it is because no one has volunteered. Please volunteer to assist UNSCC in adding more Planning and land use information. Thank you.