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Sally Lieber

Running for: 

Supervisor District 5

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? 

All of these endangered sites speak to me and have a place in local and statewide history. Those that are most important to me include the First Church of Christ, Scientist, the historic structures in Alviso and the historic blocks downtown. It's not enough to move a small representation of buildings taken out of context, but we must look at them as part of a cityscape and an integral part of our history and placemaking for the future. I would like to see the County be even more active in the area of preservation and reuse.

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?

I would add all of Japantown as a set of buildings that inter-relate and give context to each other and to San Jose's identity. I would also like to see more identification of commercial buildings, churches and homes in the Washington-Guadalupe neighborhood. The County can be influential even in areas that are not unincorporated.

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 can work more directly and assertively with the San Jose City Council to highlight opportunities to save these buildings from neglect and to identify new uses. Even when the City has jurisdiction, the County can still be very influential. I believe that it should be broken down to emphasize individual buildings and blocks, rather than as a huge topic.

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?

Any funds collected should be used to further historic preservation, but really, how can you mitigate the loss of historical context and fabric?

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, absolutely.

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? 

This is a great concern and the County should become much more active in taking positions on state legislation and in moving toward approval of its Housing Element.

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?

I would be supportive of this although it greatly reduces the context of a historic resource. There should be robust information presented onsite and online about the original use and location of such structures.


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?


Yes, absolutely! Perhaps it can be used as office space for County offices that are currently in leased space. Conversion to residential raises other, but not insurmountable, needs.

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?

In my home city of Mountain View I have been a proponent of preservation and public information on what existed in the past and its uses. For me that includes structures, streets, trees, and traditional activities. I am also heartened to see tribal engagement coming forward around Bay restoration and other projects.

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