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Nelson McElmurry

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 San José Flea Market holds a special place in the heart of our community, and it deeply resonates with me personally. If elected, I would leverage the power of my office to address the preservation challenges it faces. Preserving the San José Flea Market requires a collaborative and proactive approach, blending community involvement, advocacy, and strategic partnerships to ensure its cultural legacy endures for future generations.

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?

*Did not respond

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?  

To protect historic buildings from fire, neglect, and vandalism, I propose:

Code Enforcement and Security: Strengthen code enforcement with regular inspections and strict penalties. Boost security measures through increased patrols and surveillance.

Community Engagement: Educate communities on historical significance. Establish neighborhood watch programs.

Adaptive Reuse Incentives: Simplify processes for adaptive reuse. Offer tax credits for preservation efforts.

Vacancy Monitoring: Monitor vacant buildings closely. Fast-track development approvals. Legislation for Responsible

Development: Advocate against extended vacancies. Ensure responsible displacement practices.

Financial Incentives: Support compensatory fees and bonds. Allocate funds to conservation and preservation. This approach ensures swift action and community involvement in protecting San José's historic sites.

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?

*Did not respond

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?

Yes, I support increased County funding and staffing levels to revitalize and maintain the Heritage Resource Inventory (HRI). It's crucial to ensure that the HRI remains an up-to-date and effective planning tool for both communities and developers. By allocating adequate resources, we can enhance the accuracy and completeness of the HRI, preserving our cultural and historical heritage. Additionally, I propose establishing a volunteer board of directors to actively oversee and advise the city and county on preservation matters, fostering a collaborative and community-driven approach to heritage conservation.

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? 

To safeguard the communities input in the face of potential developments that may impact the character and livability of neighborhoods, especially those with historic resources at risk, I propose an increased partnership between the county and organizations such as PAC SJ. Community outreach events should be conducted regularly, providing residents with meaningful opportunities to voice their opinions and concerns regarding their neighborhoods, environmental issues, historical preservation, and proposed developments. This collaborative approach ensures that citizens remain active participants in the decision-making process, fostering a sense of community engagement and preserving the unique identity of our neighborhoods.

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?

Relocating these historic buildings to open space is not my first or favorite option. I understand, however, that in an area where land is at a premium and scarce, this may be an effort for mitigating a difficult scenario. I would support this plan only after every other possibility is exhausted I do not endorse the relocation of historical buildings into sensitive areas within county parks.

While I am supportive of moving historical buildings in lower density urban areas, any consideration for placing them near or on county park land should come with stringent conditions. The reconstruction process must ensure seamless integration with the surrounding environment, without posing any threat to the local plant or animal life. It is crucial to strike a balance between preserving our historical heritage and maintaining the ecological integrity of our cherished park lands.


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?


I oppose the demolition of the building, firmly believing in the value of preserving our architectural and historical heritage. However, my openness to alternative solutions lies in the prospect of renovating and repurposing the structure. I would readily support such endeavors, but with a critical stipulation – the renovated building must be dedicated to directly addressing the pressing housing and homelessness crisis. Whether transformed into affordable housing units or serving as a cornerstone for a comprehensive homeless resource center, the revamped space should contribute meaningfully to tackling the challenges our community faces.

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?

Historic preservation plays a crucial role in creating and sustaining a vibrant, culturally diverse future for Santa Clara County. Preserving our historical sites and structures not only honors our heritage but also enriches our community, fostering a sense of identity and continuity. As an elected official, I would prioritize initiatives that support the preservation of historically significant landmarks and neighborhoods. This includes advocating for policies that provide incentives for property owners to maintain and restore historic structures, collaborating with local historical societies, and promoting educational programs to raise awareness about the importance of our shared history. Whether participating in community events, working with historical societies, or contributing to educational outreach, I believe in the power of collective action to safeguard our cultural heritage.

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