top of page

Lenka Wright

Running for: 

Council District 10

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? 

Diridon Station most resonates with me due to its architectural interest and history as a welcoming beacon for individuals traveling by rail. Being originally from Long Island, New York, I grew up with New York City’s iconic Grand Central Station and Penn Station and Diridon Station has a similar grandness to it. The San José landmark contributes to our city’s cultural character and serves as a reminder to future generations of our past. Through elected office, I would uphold the City Council’s recent decision in preserving and integrating the historic depot into the expanded railroad station’s new design.

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?

There isn’t one that comes to mind but I am relieved that preservation efforts were successful for the iconic radar tower at Mount Umunhum, which serves as a reminder of the area’s military history and can be seen clearly from many neighborhoods of District 10.

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?  

I would need more information about the contributing factors that led to these fires as well as what City communications there had been with the property owners to address these vacant historic buildings’ poor conditions. I am interested in exploring the possibility of increased fines and enforcement for property owners who have ignored repeated attempts by the City to seek compliance over these code enforcement issues. I would also like to to hear what other cities have successfully done to address this issue, as well as what ideas the Preservation Action Council of San Jose may have to address bad actors who are letting the condition of their vacant historic buildings worsen and contribute to blight.

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? 

Possibly. I would like to know how the City defines a “historic resource” as well as whether such a policy would have a negative impact on building more affordable housing in San José.

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?

I am supportive of having the Historic Resources Inventory updated in the future and would like to know what the tradeoff would be in doing so, given that there continues to be staffing resource limitations as well as challenges with retaining staff within the Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Department.

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? 

I am pleased that the State has now approved the City of San José's Housing Element since PAC*SJ sent the survey. As a communications executive who has led communications and outreach efforts for cities for over 15 years, I recognize the importance of keeping residents and other stakeholders informed about issues that may impact them and how they can weigh in on the process. Outreach – especially with developments that might change their neighborhood’s structure – should be done through multiple communication channels and with language access in mind. The developer should also be engaged in the process to hear feedback from the community and likely experience fewer roadblocks due to being transparent and open to hearing input.

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?

Yes, relocating a historic structure to a City park could be an option for mitigating new developments. Factors involved in the decision-making process would be cost and whether there may be a philanthropic organization that would contribute to the preservation effort.


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 don’t believe this type of development is appropriate for every part of the city. I am supportive of high-density housing near transit and the downtown core. However, it should not come at the expense of a historic neighborhood’s unique character.

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?

Historic buildings create a sense of place, and having reminders of the past would serve San José well. As Winston Churchill, said: “We shape our buildings, and afterward, our buildings shape us.”

Historic preservation has not been an area that I have pursued professionally but personally, I enjoy visiting historical sites and learning about the past. In a former broadcast journalism career, I experienced history in the making first-hand including the preservation of a Minuteman Missile Silo in western South Dakota. I would be interested in supporting efforts to enhance local schoolkids’ exposure to San José’s historical buildings and a walking tour of downtown historical sites and buildings.

bottom of page