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Sukhdev Bainiwal

Running for: 

Council District 8

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? 

None of the “Endangered Eight” from 2022 or 2023 are in the City Council district I am running for (D8), however I believe that we must protect historic buildings and ensure that they remain intact for future generations. The building that most resonates with me, personally, is the Alum Rock Park Log Cabin because it embodies our city’s deteriorating park system.

One of my priorities as a City Council member will be to reinvest in our parks because I believe that every local resident deserves a clean and safe place to enjoy our beautiful community. Alum Rock Park is the oldest municipal park in the state – the historic structure there should be restored and our park system should be the jewel of our city.

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?  

Fighting blight across the city has to be a priority. The broken windows theory popularized in the 1980s holds true today – blight begets blight, crime and even more vacancy. We must increase code enforcement in our commercial districts and work with local law enforcement and our small business community to ensure swift action against vandalism and damages. In addition, I will advocate for a community task force on historic preservation, promoting adaptive reuse and responsible development. Together, these measures can protect our cultural heritage and foster a vibrant, safe community.

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? 

I do not support adding any more additional costs on residential development. Our local housing costs are expensive enough – we cannot afford to continue to use development projects as opportunities to fund more city programs. We need to lower the cost of housing development and get more units online in order to make San Jose more affordable.

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?

Our city faces huge budget problems moving forward. The City Council has already cut services to give city employees raises. We need to get a handle on our city’s existing finances before we commit any more resources to new staff and programs.

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? 

We need to get approval for our housing element immediately. I support building additional housing – especially along dense commercial and/or transit corridors – but of course local residents’ voices need to be heard during the permitting and approvals process.

As a City Councilmember, I want to be a problem solver and collaborator. I want to work with other Councilmembers and members of my district to help guide future development in a way that increases the housing supply without negatively impacting existing neighborhoods.

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?

Our city parks are deteriorating. One of my top priorities will be spearheading reinvestment into our local parks, because every resident deserves a safe and clean place to recreate and enjoy our beautiful community. I would be happy to consider a proposal that allows our parks to host and preserve historic buildings.


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?


We must increase the housing supply if we’re going to make San Jose a more affordable place to live. I support increasing the housing supply and density – especially in commercial districts and transit corridors. However, I do believe that we need to be careful not to disrupt existing neighborhoods and would not offer my blanket support for expanding SB 9 entitlements to each corner of the City.

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?

San Jose is a historic city, and we must preserve our city’s character as we look to and build for the future. Historic buildings and districts play an important role in attracting tourists, reminding residents of our city’s roots, and providing character and charm. I would absolutely be an advocate for and help preserve San Jose’s unique history.

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