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Betty Duong

Running for: 

Supervisor District 2

Campaign Website: 

1) PAC*SJ recently released its second annual “Endangered Eight” list of the most threatened historic places in San José. Which of these places (including those from our 2022 “Endangered Eight” of which some remain endangered) most resonates with you personally? Which of these would you use the power of your elected office to address, and how? 

The Flea Market holds a great deal of historic significance for the refugee and immigrant communities in San Jose and Santa Clara County. While the negotiations continue regarding identifying spaces for current Flea Market vendors at the planned site and/or elsewhere, capturing the history of the flea market community and ensuring it is enshrined is an important additional part of this work. Oral histories, photography and a public art installation on the site may be methods by which to preserve the history of the site.

My family and other refugee families spent a great deal of time at the flea market growing up. Ironically, it offered my parents a place where they could purchase items speaking only Vietnamese; in contrast I had to translate medical and other legal information for my parents when they sought county services.

As a Supervisor I would work to preserve places in Alviso as this community has a special place in the history of our region and has suffered from neglect for many years since its incorporation in 1968. The County’s investment in the waterway and park there may provide an impetus for further restoration and preservation.

2) Is there a historic place or preservation issue not on our 2022 or 2023 “Endangered Eight” lists that you would nominate to be added? If so, what solutions would you offer as an elected official to address the issue/threat?

An additional site that is significant to myself, my family and my community is the Viet Museum in History Park. This building located in the incredible History Park is a place where I can bring my daughter with my parents to learn about and discuss our family’s refugee experience. The Museum, the Park, and the nearby Happy Hollow facility create a zone for families to recreate and learn as families.

3) In the past three years alone, at least six vacant historic buildings in San José have been lost to fire, and many more have suffered from chronic neglect and vandalism. Often, these properties were left vacant after former tenants were displaced in anticipation of future development that never materialized.  How would you propose more effective code enforcement and security measures to encourage better stewardship and to prevent the continued loss of our historic resources to neglect? What additional solutions would you propose to address these systemic problems?  

The County has the code enforcement responsibility and authority in the unincorporated areas of the County. This division of the Planning Department has been impacted by vacancies and a high volume of complaints, many of which require work and analysis by the Office of the County Counsel as well. As a County we must identify strategies to reduce delays in development and we must integrate the management and security of sites during this interim period.

In terms of the many instances of fire, neglect and vandalism of buildings and sites in the City of San Jose, my role as the District Two Supervisor would be to work with the City of San Jose and seek to hold it accountable for its responsibilities. It is important to note that I am an attorney, so I will be able to discuss these issues with City Officials in a meaningful way. I also have recent experience collaborating with City of San Jose and other city leaders during the pandemic given my leadership role in the Public Information Office. These relationships are differentiating assets I bring to my candidacy for County Supervisor.

4) Do you believe the County should require compensatory mitigation fees and/or surety bonds from developers who request and receive entitlements to alter or demolish historic resources under County jurisdiction?  If such policies are instituted and enforced, how would you like to see those funds directed?

I would be in favor of referring this topic to the Administration for analysis and review, after which I would expect the Administration to report to the Board of Supervisors with its recommendations. Such a requirement would need to ensure that any funds received were allocated to preservation of the actual historic resources or some new installation or asset that preserves the history of the site.

5) The County has long acknowledged that its Heritage Resource Inventory-- a countywide survey of historic sites intended to proactively guide development decisions-- is incomplete and out-of-date. Do you support increased County funding and staffing levels to ensure that the HRI is an up-to-date and effective planning tool for communities and developers alike?

Allocating additional General Fund resources in the current climate as the Administration has estimated the budget deficit to be as much as $180 to $380 million may be challenging. However, identifying new revenue sources like the one described in the previous question may be a means by which the county could support further work on the inventory. This project is also an example of one for which the County can and should seek state, federal and private grant funding given the shared importance of historic preservation among all sectors of our community.

6) Santa Clara County has yet to receive final approval for its State-mandated Housing Element, and is therefore currently subject to the “Builder’s Remedy” law requiring streamlined approval of otherwise non-conforming residential development projects in unincorporated areas of the County. How would you help ensure that citizens continue to have a voice in developments that might threaten the character and livability of their neighborhoods, particularly if there are historic resources at risk? 

The delays in the submission and approval of the Housing Element, and the resultant Builder’s Remedy application regulations is an example of the County and the City of San Jose needing to work more closely together and an example of the interconnectedness of these types of local plans in a region where it is often difficult to determine exactly where the unincorporated areas of the County are located.

As a value, I believe communities and their residents should have the first and the most heavily weighted voice as development projects are considered, planned and implemented. As an example, as the County continues to move forward towards the eventual closing of the Reid Hillview Airport, we must begin a visioning process with the community, one that is inclusive of language, age, and ethnicity and one that results in actions anchored in community. Open space, community spaces, health care clinics, childcare facilities - all of these are examples of assets that communities deserve as development takes place.

7) County park lands are a critical resource for the people of San José and are potential receiver sites for distinctive historic buildings that must be relocated to make way for new developments.  Would you support this as a mitigation measure for new developments with historic resources that would otherwise be demolished? How do you envision that these resources could be best utilized within the parks for the benefit of the public?

The parks system that includes 28 parks with lands over 50,000 acres are testament to the Board of Supervisors commitment to preservation of open space and the provision of healthy recreational opportunities for our community. The collecting of neon signs and the recent investment by the County to move trains and related buildings are recent examples of the transport of such historic assets. In our parks we are lucky to hold historic buildings. And we are very lucky to have so many devoted and loyal volunteers of our Parks Department. Taken together these buildings and volunteers provide a means by which to restore the buildings and integrate docent programs into the Parks experience.


8) Santa Clara County has owned and maintained the historic but vacant Former San Jose City Hall since 2005. In 2022, County Supervisors voted unanimously to reject the building’s proposed demolition and directed staff to explore adaptive reuse options. Do you support this decision? Would you support a proposal to convert the building for housing or any other adaptive reuse? Why or why not?


The Old City Hall site is an example of the important advocacy role that PAC SJ plays in the consideration and planning of buildings owned by the County of Santa Clara. While the Administration has long maintained that the site should be demolished given its condition and the related costs, the Board appears to have held the line in response to PACSJ advocacy. As we navigate the deficit over the next few years, further inaction with the building may provide us time to hear more from PAC SJ and its experts on the actual estimated costs to reuse rather than demolish the building.

9) What role do you believe that historic preservation should play in creating and sustaining a vibrant and culturally diverse future for Santa Clara County? Is there a particular project or effort you have undertaken or would propose to undertake--either professionally or personally-- that best embodies your vision for historic preservation in Santa Clara County?

The project I have been a part of that best embodies my appreciation of historic preservation is the oral history project of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) leaders in Santa Clara County, a project that was partially funded by the County. I was interviewed for this project and was honored to speak about how the important API leaders in our community inspired, mentored, and propelled me to public service. While this was an oral history project, I am sure there are buildings and locations that were central to the Refugee Resettlement of families from Vietnam in San Jose that are known but not designated. This is a project that I would be interested in exploring with PAC SJ.

I want to teach my daughter that while it is important that we study and learn from history, it is also important that we cherish our history. Preserving historical buildings and spaces so that all of us can visit and interact with such sites is an important role for PAC SJ in partnership with the community and our local government entities.

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