Friday, April 28, 2006


This letter was sent by Julie Ramirez to the San Jose Planning Commissioners and sums of our feelings and the feelings many neighbors share about the impact this and other recent projects have had in our area.

Dear Commissioners:

Thank you for delaying the development proposal by Braddock and Logan to add 14 homes on a 2.66 acre lot on Fleming Avenue. The lack of a site plan and memo from the Fire Department clearly made this proposal incomplete. Additionally, the last minute change of a possible addition of a park added to the confusion. The delay will allow the Planning Department and neighbors to review the revised plan more carefully.

As you can tell by our overwhelming presence and demand for due process, we feel that 14 homes is still too many. Even though not everyone spoke, 25 people waited until 10:30 pm to witness this hearing. That's significant. We had the same number the last time. Our committment and unity speaks to the significant impact and unbearable conditions this project would have on our communtiy.

I am deeply concerned about the perception that Mr. Levy expressed that 14 homes would not have a significant impact on the traffic issues Fleming residents currently experience. Mr. Levy, I would invite you and your fellow commissioners to witness the conditions first hand, especially during the morning and evening commute hours, before coming to those conclusions.

As many neighbors have expressed, Fleming Avenue is truly a unique stretch of county road that buffers city and state jurisdiction. City traffic and density standards should not be imposed on a county road that lacks the infrastructure to support more and more development. Developers seem to fly under the radar by building so-called "small" projects that would have "no significant impact" according to city standards. But it is like mixing apples and oranges! The cumulative effect of these small projects is that we end up with a bigger mess than already exists.

In a effort to mitigate traffic and safety concerns, 2 studies have been launched.
(1) The planning department has agreed to work with Cal-Trans to look at the timing of the traffic light at the intersection of Fleming Avenue and Alum Rock during its peak hours. However, in the course of more than 3 months since the initial deferral, nothing has been done.

Regardless of the outcome of this study, if it ever takes place, I don't believe that the timing change will provide much relief. In fact, it may encourage even more traffic to come our way as opposed to using adjacent neighborhood streets as many commuters currently do to avoid the light.

(2) Secondly, after meeting with concerned neighbors regarding safety, City Councilmember Nora Campos commissioned a traffic study to map out the various jurisdictions, widths, conditions and traffic flow on Fleming Avenue. This data could directly support what neighbors have been saying all along.

The reality is that there are simply too many homes and cars in this neighborhood and our street is maxed-out! It's wide is some spots, narrow in others, side walks sprinked here and there, a paved shoulder here and weeds and dirt there. It is a patchwork of unsightly and dangerous conditions for 2 1/2 miles.

Adding more homes, even a few at a time, has a detrimental affect on the safety of our families.

When considering this development and city annexation, exceptionally careful scrutiny is warranted. The conditions and circumstances of our neighborhoond does not neatly fit into the formulas and standards the city has established to monitor growth. Fleming Avenue is unique--with its mixed jurisdictions and dangerous conditions--and should be treated as such.

Frankly, I believe a moritorium should be placed on all new developments along Fleming Avenue. The communication between county, city and state is clearly non-existent. And until there is a safe system in place, you should say no to this development and ones similar to it. Residents should not be forced to sacrifice their safety and integrity of their neighborhood for the sake of new homes.

For more details, including video clips, meeting recaps and comments, please visit our blog.

Julie Ramirez
158 Fleming Avenue

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Citing the absence of a specific and updated site plan, and a lack of a Fire Department variance, San Jose planning commissioners sent developer Braddock and Logan back to the drawing board on the Fleming Avenue project, a move the developer admitted could doom the project. At least 25 Fleming and Clareview neighbors sat through the marathon meeting Wednesday night at San Jose City Hall which ended near 11pm. "I don't know what we're reviewing" said a frustrated Deputy City Attorney, "What proposal are we considering?" The confusion stemmed from a series of last minute changes and additions proposed by Jim Sullivan of Braddock and Logan. After tough negotiations with the property owner and the office of City Councilmember Nora Campos, Sullivan agreed to reduce the number of homes from 18 to 14 and include a small 1/2 to 1/3rd acre "pocket park" to add open space where four homes would have been located. But the developer did not produce specific enough plans for the city planning department to review and what was submitted was so last-minute, it did not give anyone, neighbors or the planning staff, time to analyze it before the meeting. Then, in response to concerns raised by commission member Zito about home setbacks (separations), Sullivan appeared to reverse course and unfortunately, take the park proposal off the table. Neighbors stated they would accept a smaller park to allow for more setbacks. Further damaging the developer's efforts, other members noted the developer came to the meeting without a variance from the Fire Department to address safety issues which would have been needed to move forward. The developer said he could obtain a variance soon, but the planning commission said it could not approve such an incomplete proposal and they reluctantly deferred the matter until it's May 24th meeting. But Sullivan said that long of a deferral would likely make the deal with the Korean Baptist Church financially unfeasible for his company.


The San Jose Planning Commission will be holding a public hearing on our issue tonight at 6:30pm at San Jose City Hall in downtown San Jose. The meeting takes place in the city council chambers, located on the west side of the rotunda. Free parking with validation is available in the garage underground which can be accessed from 4th street and 6th street.
The proposal has been reduced from 18 to 14 homes with a 1/2 acre pocket park to be jointly developed by Braddock and Logan and the City. This proposal is a significant improvement for the neighborhood, and many thanks should go to all who helped shape it. But it doesn't end there.
While the number of homes has been mathematically reduced, the original plans for the remaining homes remain in place. The city has proposed asking for a variance in the fire code to allow for the smaller than standard turnaround bulb at the end of the proposed cul de sac. The lessons from the Santana Row fire(where several variances contributed to the magnitude and scope of the destruction) are that you cannot compromise on fire safety. This development is going into a semi-rural area with grassy hillsides and homes directly across the street. A fire in any one of the homes could set the others on fire due to their height and proximity to one another.
We feel that a further reduction of at least one more home is needed for several reasons. That would allow for increased setbacks between the proposed homes. Wider setbacks would solve several problems at once:
-it would increase fire safety, allowing the developer to widen the cul-de-sac.
-it would increase fire safety by allowing more defensible space between the homes.
-it would allow wider driveways and solve parking issues.
-it would allow the development to visually blend into the existing neighborhood, where average setbacks are much wider.

Meantime, traffic continues to be an issue that needs to be solved on Fleming. Below is a video taken just this morning showing a traffic jam that grew to 1/4 mile on Fleming at Alum Rock.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Plans to develop homes on the lot of The Lord's Baptist Church on Fleming Avenue now include a 1/2 acre pocket park, according to officials in the office of City Councilmember Nora Campos.
During negotiations with Developer Braddock and Logan, Campos was able to reduce the number of proposed homes from 18 to 14 AND include a 1/2 acre "pocket park" according to her policy aide Todd Rufo. Rufo also said the park would front Fleming Avenue in the spaces previously designated as lots 1 through 4 (CLICK ON ABOVE PHOTO FOR DETAIL). Details on the park's design would still need to be worked out, after input from neighbors.
Keep checking this space for more details and plan on attending a Planning Commission meeting this Wednesday, April 26th, at 6:30 pm at San Jose City Hall.
Please post comments regarding these developments so we can relay them to the Developer and Councilmember Campos.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Developer Braddock and Logan is submitting new plans for the proposed Fleming Avenue project, downsizing the number of homes from 18 to 14, but the plans do not include a "pocket-park" as requested by neighbors. This revision comes just days before the plans are scheduled to go to the San Jose Planning Commission on Wednesday, April 26th, 2006. While this revision is a step in the right direction, it falls short of the 8 to 10 home plan that neighbors have repeatedly requested based on density, traffic and safety issues on Fleming Avenue. Below you will find the SJ Planning Department memo that recommends approval of this plan. Please read it and comment in the space provided on this blog: ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH THIS REVISED PLAN? LEAVE COMMENTS ON THE BLOG! AND LASTLY, PLEASE PLAN ON ATTENDING THE PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING ON WEDNESDAY, APRIL 26, AT 6:30pm AT SAN JOSE CITY HALL!

This item was heard by the Planning Commission on January 11, 2006. After receiving public testimony, the Planning Commission deferred the proposal to April 12, 2006 to allow the developer to address community concerns regarding density and traffic issues and to address the Commission’s concerns regarding fire access. In response to the applicant’s request for additional time to negotiate with the property owner, the item was deferred to April 26, 2006.
In response to neighborhood concerns regarding density, the applicant is now proposing to reduce the number of allowed units from 18 to 14. Staff has prepared revised Draft Development Standards that reflect the current proposal (see attached). The Fire Department has indicated that fire access issues can be resolved either through a revised cul-de-sac/hammerhead design or via a Fire Variance. Planning and Public Works staff believe that the expanded cul-de-sac/hammerhead options are unacceptable and have recommended that the applicant pursue the Fire Variance option.
At the January 11th public hearing, residents of the area expressed concern regarding the vehicle back-up that occurs on Fleming Avenue during the morning commute due to cars seeking to turn left onto Alum Rock Avenue. Public Works staff indicated that it might be possible to improve the situation by adjusting the signal timing to allocate greater green time to the left-turn movement and agreed to initiate discussions with Caltrans, which has jurisdiction over Alum Rock Avenue. Public Works staff have indicated that they have not yet been successful in obtaining a response from Caltrans on this issue, but that they will continue to pursue the matter.
Staff recommends that the Planning Commission recommend that the City Council approve the proposed prezoning to R-1-5 Single-Family Residence District on the 0.23 acre site as originally recommended, and approve the prezoning on the 2.7 gross acre site to A(PD) with a maximum of 14 units, as indicated in the attached revised Draft Development Standards.

Planning, Building and Code Enforcement

cc: Sue Dillion
Braddock and Logan
1700 The Alameda, #210
San Jose, CA 95126
Revised Draft Development Standards for PDC05-061
Original Staff Report
Location Maps
Land Use Plan for PDC05-061

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


A San Jose Planning Commission meeting has been scheduled for April 26th, 2006 at 6:30pm at City Hall to discuss the future of the Fleming development on the site of the Lord's Baptist Church.

Please disregard a notice that was recently mailed out to Fleming area neighbors about a planning commission meeting on April 12th. San Jose planning officials tell us that the reason for the reschedule is that the developer, Braddock and Logan, requested a delay. The company is still in negotiations with the property owners to lower the purchase price, thereby allowing fewer homes to be built on the property. The developer is proposing to demolish the church and build 18 single family homes on the 2.6 acre site with a cul-de-sac in the middle. Neighbors have been fighting the development plans due to crowding, traffic and safety concerns on Fleming Ave.

These negotiations have been on-going for the last three months, ever since the last planning commission meeting in January. At that meeting, a big turnout and a strong showing of opposition from our neighbors prompted the planning commission to take the project off the fast track.

So far, the powers that be have listened to us because our opposition to these plans has been strong and organized. We must continue to keep up that spirit. This will be a long process, and there could be more delays. Keep checking this site for future updates!