top of page

Omar Torres

Running for: 

Council District 3

Campaign Website: 

1) PAC*SJ recently released its first annual “Endangered Eight” list of the most threatened historic places in San José. As a resident of the City, which of these eight places most resonates with you personally? Which of these would you use the power of your elected office to address, and how? 

The Flea Market resonates with me. Growing up Latino, the flea market was a place where many under-resourced families shopped. Our culture and traditions are celebrated at the flea market! It is the most important gathering place for the Hispanic community in the South Bay.

2) Is there a historic place or preservation issue not on our “Endangered Eight” list that you would nominate to be added? If so, what solutions would you offer as an elected official to address the issue/threat? 

Longtime restaurant institutions that have been historic gathering places in my neighborhood, throughout District 3, and the city at-large are important and deserve preservation. These restaurants include The Five Spot and the Burger Bar, both of which our in my neighborhood.

3) Do you believe that SB9, which allows by-right redevelopment of up to four new units on most single-family-zoned parcels statewide, is compatible with the preservation of older and historic homes and neighborhoods? Why or why not?  

I believe that SB 9 does have provisions for the preservation of historic homes. However, I do believe it is necessary that we build housing in San Jose. Everyone agrees that we need to build housing, yet no one wants that housing placed in their area. It is very important that the City preserves historic homes and landmarks. However, if we want to continue to thrive as a region, we must get a handle on our housing crisis. We have a jobs to housing imbalance that will not go away unless we send our jobs elsewhere or we build adequate housing to house those who work here.

4) In the past two years alone, at least five vacant historic buildings in San José have been lost to fire, and many more have suffered from chronic neglect and vandalism. How would you propose more effective code enforcement to prevent the continued loss of our historic resources to neglect? What additional measures would you propose to address these systemic problems? 

The city is incredibly understaffed, especially our Code Enforcement division. We need to invest more resources to keep up our historic resources, and hire additional staff by enticing them with higher pay and benefits.

5) Do you believe the city should collect compensatory mitigation fees from development projects that result in the demolition of historic resources? Why or why not? If such a policy was instituted, how would you like to see those funds directed?

Yes, absolutely. Preservation should be a priority for the City of San Jose, and developers should be held responsible for mitigating the damage and loss of historic buildings and resources.

6) The City has long acknowledged that our Historic Resources Inventory-- a citywide survey of historic sites intended to proactively guide development decisions-- is incomplete and out-of-date. Do you support increased City funding and staffing levels to ensure that the HRI is an up-to-date and effective planning tool? 

Yes. I support increasing city funding and staffing levels. We need to provide competitive wages and benefits in order to attract good employees with a knowledge and expertise in preserving historic sites in our City.

7) What role do you believe that historic preservation should play in creating and sustaining a vibrant and culturally diverse future for San José? Is there a particular project or effort you have undertaken--either professionally or personally-- that best embodies your vision for historic preservation in San José? 

I believe historic preservation should play a large role in creating and sustaining a vibrant and culturally diverse future for San Jose. We should be protecting these sites and opening them up to educational opportunities with our local schools. I have done a lot of work with preserving historic sites including the Berryessa Flea Market and mural preservation. Mural preservation has been a priority for me as a neighborhood organizer and as a city employee.

bottom of page