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Alex Shoor

Running for: 

Council District 6

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? 

Burbank Theater stands out as one of the most important landmarks that should be preserved to the best of our abilities. Through Catalyze SV, I have already been working closely with PAC*SJ on this site. We have made plans to schedule a community engagement process around the theater’s future. The plan would bring together property owners and community members to envision solutions and find a path of support. The goals for any redevelopment of this site should include as much preservation of the current building as possible. I will continue to fight to improve and restore the Burbank Theater (though not at the expense of seeing no redevelopment of the site occur).

Equally important to me is the preservation of Diridon Station. I would prefer to see it remain in the neighborhood, as well as continue to see the building used for transit. But, no matter what, we can’t allow it to be torn down.

With over 400 vendors selling at the Berryessa Flea Market, it is not only a huge source of economic vitality for our city and region, but an institution we cannot afford to lose. I will continue my role in a coalition of organizations and individuals seeking to protect and prevent the displacement of hundreds of largely Latino and Asian Berryessa Flea Market vendors, who successfully secured a better deal for these businesses as this redevelopment unfolds. Yet the issue hasn’t been resolved because the vendors still don’t have a long-term place where they can stay.

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 love for the City of San Jose to buy it and re-sell The Towne Theater on The Alameda to a developer willing to restore it. Additionally, I would welcome seeing it added to the City’s historic registry if it hasn’t already. And I would certainly oppose its demolition because we need more neighborhood theaters if San Jose is going to return to a walkable city built around neighborhood villages.

As part of proposing new “districts” in San Jose, I would like to create a place to celebrate Cannery Workers of the past by renaming the area around Del Monte “The Cannery District”

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?  

First and foremost, I would aim to prevent the premature eviction of residential tenants. In 2019, a development was proposed in an existing DIstrict 6 building with the new owner swiftly evicting eight families that had been living in the affordably-priced homes. However, the development wasn’t approved by San Jose’s City Council until four years later and it’s not clear that the developer has any immediate plans to actually build the approved project. As a result, these eight families were displaced from their homes many years before they needed to be. San Jose should allow tenants to stay on a redevelopment site until demolition or construction is ready to begin.

Empty Storefronts & Spaces: San Joséans have told me how concerned they are about all the empty storefronts, commercial buildings, and offices sitting empty. Empty buildings are not just a waste of space, they encourage blight, vandalism, squatting, drug use, fires, etc. Moreover, they can bring down property values. We should fill these empty buildings with housing and jobs. I want to address this by:
- Putting forward policies that first encourage property owners to lease their storefronts to small, local businesses shortly after they open. This could take the form of reduced property taxes for 5 years if new retail spaces are filled within the first year of vacancy.
- Formalizing a penalty system for empty buildings. When owners choose to leave their buildings vacant and neglected for years. I suggest assessing an annual vacant fee on property owners who leave their land or buildings empty for more than 9 consecutive months without initiating any planned improvements. This would discourage property owners from leaving spaces empty long-term. It’s similar to the effort proposed in the 8/24/23 memo from Mayor Matt Mahan, Vice Mayor Rosemary Kamei, Councilmember Pam Foley, & Councilmember Omar Torres to increase the fee on the delinquent owner of the dilapidated First Church of Christ Scientist building.
- Encouraging property owners sitting on empty buildings or empty land to convert the land to urban agriculture using the Urban Agricultural Incentive Zone I worked on at the County and City or other policies).

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

At this time, I’m not sure how I stand on the issue and I am open to all ideas. Upon initial consideration, I wouldn’t be opposed to them. I would suggest the fees be dedicated to funding historic preservation resources, especially staffing levels at the City. I would like to learn more about this issue from y’all.

5) The City has long acknowledged that its 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 for communities and developers alike?

In theory, I do support more resources going to updating the city’s HRI. Yet it would not be my highest priority.

City documents and city policy must be maintained and kept up to date, though our city is also facing urgent and pressing issues such as housing, homelessness, the environment, and small business growth, among others. My top 6 priorities can be found at

6) San José 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. 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? 

Thankfully, the Housing Element is now approved. My thoughts on the Builder’s Remedy here.

7) City 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 prefer historic buildings remain in the neighborhood where they were originally built because it means history is integrated into modernity. Yet if that is not a possibility, I do support moving and preserving historic structures into places like History Park over their demolition. The clustering of historic buildings tends to create a draw, though I wish History Park was closer to the City’s Downtown core and more transit-accessible.

I believe the structures should be open to the public, either as part of the City’s parks system, maintained and operated by nonprofit organizations, or as inviting retail businesses, as you see in Old Town Sacramento.


8) In 2022 California passed SB9, which allows by-right redevelopment of up to four new units on most R1 (single-family-zoned) parcels statewide, but exempted historic properties, historic districts, and R2 (duplex-zoned) neighborhoods from eligibility. In 2024, City Council will consider expanding SB9-type entitlements to include historic properties and R2 districts. Do you believe this type of development is appropriate for historic homes and older neighborhoods? Why or why not?


I would need to understand more about how this change would affect historic homes and historic districts. I would be more likely to support expanding it for R2 districts than historic ones.

As PAC*SJ well knows, I’m a staunch housing advocate. My top priority is housing. And the solution requires multiple strategies, including building more homes throughout San Jose. The housing crisis is the greatest threat to the future of our City. We must ensure everyone can afford to live in this community. And I do believe that we need more supply to meet the current demand. So while I consider multiple factors, including externalities, when analyzing land use decisions, I’m generally hesitant to take any policy position that restricts housing.

I do believe duplexes next to single-family homes are an appropriate form of development. There are many tasteful, attractive duplexes in the single-family neighborhood where I live that are integrated seamlessly next to single-family homes.

I supported SB9 when it was first proposed. My top priority is to ensure everyone has an affordable home in San Jose and a gentle density policy is a key tool in achieving this goal.

That being said, I believe in designating historic neighborhoods because rich, great cities recognize their history. San Jose has a long and storied history, which we must preserve and celebrate. Let’s hire a city historian to identify places worthy of plaques recognizing historic sites or events. We have several historic sites in District 6 that are beloved by constituents. We should preserve these signs by incorporating them into the designs when new buildings are being proposed at the existing site.

9) 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 or would propose to undertake--either professionally or personally-- that best embodies your vision for historic preservation in San José?

An Empty Homes Fee: Recently, economists told the San Jose City Council how few projects are breaking ground in San Jose because of high construction costs. That’s why we should turn some of our attention to the homes we already have in San Jose. It’s why I’ve proposed since 2019 that the City of San Jose enact an empty homes fee. We have thousands of homes in San Jose sitting empty right now with some for good reason: the owner is selling, renovating, splitting their time as residents, or in between the old and new renters. However, other empty homes have sat vacant for years for no good reason, encouraging blight and unwanted squatters. I’ve seen numerous ones in my District as I knock doors.

PAC*SJ knows all too well that many of these are historic homes. Every day that goes by that historic buildings sit empty, the likelihood grows that the building will fall into disrepair it can’t come back from, or worse, be burned down.

I propose San Jose enact an empty homes fee that will reduce the number of homes sitting vacant. Several other West Coast cities have implemented similar fees. Since housing in San Jose takes too much time and money to build right now, let’s fill up the existing empty homes we already have. A good plan would work like this:
If property owners want to fill empty houses with residents, they don’t pay the fee and thus they contribute to opening up more housing.
If they want to keep the extra home empty and pay the fee, they contribute to building more housing.
Revenue from the fee can go toward the City of SJ’s program dedicated exclusively to building affordable housing.

Discourage House Flipping: Professor Shane Phillips cites evidence that house flippers earned an average return on investment of 49% in 2018. The process of an investor buying a home they have no intention of living in, quickly remodeling it, and reselling it in an already expensive housing market plays an outsized role in driving housing prices up. Limiting a person’s ability to house flip could help hold down housing prices. I propose a fee on house flipping to discourage skyrocketing housing prices, especially on single-family homes next to transit, with revenues focused on preserving housing.

Vibrant Neighborhood Spaces: Enlivening neighborhoods with activities for people of all ages and interests is fundamentally good for San Jose. District 6 has so many iconic, thriving places we want to maintain like Lincoln Ave, the Rose Garden, & the SAP Center on game nights. I’ll pursue ideas that build up our civic pride, create a sense of place, and draw people to them. In the past, I have:
launched the effort to bring a farmers market back to Midtown San Jose, which opened in the Rose Garden at Lincoln High School in 2018
As a Shasta / Hanchett Park Neighborhood Association Board member, I made the motion to dedicate $400 to paint rainbow crosswalks on The Alameda.
Initiated the successful effort to rename a street in San Jose after America’s first black president, Barack Obama Blvd.
shepherded the process to create and make available apparel with designs that celebrate iconic places in San Jose, including the Rose Garden, Alum Rock Park, Mt. Hamilton, & Japantown

Moving forward, some of my ideas for encouraging vibrant, fun community spaces include:
Reduced fees for buildings that activate their rooftops for services such as parks or other usable places. We should change San Jose’s ordinance code to allow or encourage rooftop gardens.
Create incentive programs to develop more community gardens. We should dedicate Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money to pay for them.
Working with the nonprofit Village Harvest to create a city urban harvesting program
Replicate in other D6 neighborhoods the Back Alley Block Party at Business Circle in Burbank which I worked on
Continue the tradition of sponsoring outdoor movie nights in neighborhood parks, rooftops, and parking lots
Design pedestrian spaces by closing targeted streets off to cars, like what is currently being done with San Pedro St

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