County Supervisor District 1
1) PAC*SJ recently released its first annual “Endangered Eight” list of the most threatened historic places in San José. As a resident of the County, which of these eight places most resonates with you personally? Which of these would you use the power of your elected office to address, and how?
All eight are worthy of preservation. The three that I see as most important are:
The Diridon Station, built in 1935 has rich history and should be preserved. The Diridon Station is centrally located across the street from the SAP center and is a short trek to the downtown. With the need for public transportation, this station is deserving of preservation and remaining in place.
If elected as the District 1 Supervisor, I will be a voice for preserving this important transportation hub.
Alviso District & Marina (Alviso) has much to offer. Its neglect is heartbreaking. Alviso and its saltwater port has the potential to become a destination area – especially for tourism and outdoor enthusiasts.
Eleven of the buildings within Alviso are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Alviso was a prosperous port shipping mercury from the New Almaden Mines and agricultural products from the Santa Clara Valley.
If elected as the District 1 Supervisor, I will support the reinvestment of Alviso and work with PAC SJ and the City of San Jose to invest in Alviso. We cannot allow the Alviso District & Marina to be ignored, overlooked, or disregarded.
Old City Hall
I support keeping and rehabilitating the former City of San Jose City Hall. I support using this building to help the homeless with specific attention to those who need mental health services. Old City Hall has the potential to serve as a health care facility that could help the mentally ill. With its proximity to the jail and the San Jose Police Station, reusing the building to serve the most vulnerable makes sense.
If elected as the District 1 Supervisor, I will support the rehabilitation and reuse of old City Hall.
2) Is there a historic place or preservation issue not on our “Endangered Eight” list that you would nominate to be added? If so, what solutions would you offer as an elected official to address the issue/threat?
Yes, I recommend adding the historic Almaden Winery building located at 1530 Blossom Hill Road.
Per a historic analysis report from May 4,1988, the Almaden Winery building is a California Registered Landmark No. 505 in recognition of the beginning of a new commercial industry: premium winemaking, established by Charles Le Franc in the 1850s and has the distinction of being the oldest winery in northern California. Le Franc was the first winemaker in northern California to import European stock (vitis vinifera) to produce the varietal wines familiar today. These early cuttings - Pinot, Sauvignon, Semilion, Cabernet, and Grenache - were grafted onto the mission root stock. Le Franc realized that there was a growing market for quality wines and brandies in California, and he set in motion a company that would eventually be the third largest producer of varietal wines in the nation. By 1862, the Almaden Vineyard consisted of 75 acres producing approximately 100,000 gallons of varietal wine which was winning prizes at county fairs and competitions. The building is owned by the City of San Jose. Unfortunately, the City has allow the building to fall into disrepair. I believe the City of San Jose has a Duty of Care for the building. I am the Vice President of Friends of the Winemakers a non-profit group. Our goal is to rehabilitate the building and make it a Wine Museum consistent with the history of the building and its location.
3) Do you believe that SB9, which allows by-right redevelopment of up to four new units on most single-family-zoned parcels statewide, is compatible with the preservation of older and historic homes and neighborhoods? Why or why not?
I do not support SB9. SB9 is not good for neighborhoods, the community and certainly not good for preserving historic buildings, homes and neighborhoods overall.
Decisions regarding land use should remain at the local level of government, not the state.
4) In the past two years alone, at least five vacant historic buildings in Santa Clara County have been lost to fire, and many more have suffered from chronic neglect and vandalism. How would you propose more effective code enforcement at the City and County levels to prevent the continued loss of our historic resources to neglect? What additional measures would you propose to address these systemic problems?
I do not have a cure for the systemic problem of historic buildings being burned down. I do believe that the burning of the historic structures over the past couple of years has been deliberate in most cases, and for that, I believe arsonists need to be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
Per my response to Question 5 below, I think it is important to support making it easier for developers to rehabilitate and reuse historic buildings.
Further, we need to hold the owners of the historic buildings accountable for the buildings care this includes the City of San Jose and all other government agencies. If owners are unable to care for the building(s), perhaps PAC SJ could find ways to help the owners care for the buildings through grants, and other means.
Per my response to Question 6, if PAC SJ was to become a non-profit partner with the County and oversee our historical inventory, I would look to PAC SJ recommendations to address the systemic problems.
5) Do you believe the County should collect compensatory mitigation fees from development projects that result in the demolition of historic resources? Why or why not? If such a policy was instituted, how would you like to see those funds directed?
I am not inclined to believe that collecting compensatory mitigation fees will help, as it could be counterproductive. More likely than not, if a developer can afford to demo a historic building, then they can afford and most likely prefer to pay fees and be done with it. Fees will not bring back historic building(s).
I would prefer to see historic groups and government agencies assist developers in keeping historic buildings within the new development(s). Instead of increasing or mandating fees for developers, we should remove development fees and make it advantageous for developers to want to keep historic structures within their new developments. We should assist in the cost of preserving historic buildings by applying for grants and earmarking monies to assist the developer with costs associated with rehabilitation of historic structures. If we can raise the bar so that keeping historic structures are beneficial, useful and profitable to developers, then I believe they will be more inclined to keep historic structures within their developments rather than demolish them.
6) The County has long acknowledged that our Historic Resources Inventory-- a county-wide 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?
The Heritage Resources Inventory (HRI) has not been updated since 2003. It is time to update the inventory. I do not believe we need to hire specific individuals to fill this role. Rather, as supporter of non-profit partnerships, I would prefer to see how this organization, Preservation Action Council SJ could be the County’s partner in filling the role to update the Heritage Resources Inventory. Although PAC SJ is currently a San Jose based non-profit, I would like to see PAC SJ consider expanding its role and becoming the partner the County needs to update the HRI.
PAC SJ consists of those who are dedicated to our historic inventory, and currently doing the work that needs to be done to update the HRI. PAC SJ has the necessary and existing experience in and a professional board that has and can continue to identify historic structures and provide the expertise necessary for the HRI to be updated and completed to present day. The County has many existing and productive non-profit relationships that have proven to be valuable for the County. I would like to see PAC SJ take on the role of updating the HRI. This partnership would be a good use of County funds.
7) 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--either professionally or personally-- that best embodies your vision for historic preservation?
Historic preservation plays a critical economic role in sustaining a vibrant and culturally united future for Santa Clara County.
Let’s consider these most visited historic worldwide destinations: Petra. Wadi Musa, Jordan; Stonehenge. Wiltshire, United Kingdom; The Parthenon. Athens, Greece; The Great Wall of China. Beijing, China; Taj Mahal. Agra, India; Easter Island. Chile; The Pyramids at Giza. Cairo, Egypt. And Chichén Itzá Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico. There are millions of dollars spent each year on travel to these historic destinations. Not only are people willing to spend money to see the historic places, but they also spend money on the businesses within the sphere of these locations – like the restaurants, shops, hotels, etc. This is all due to historic preservation.
Let’s look at Hwy. 49 – the historic goldrush highway with many historic gold rush towns home that are home to many wineries, antique stores and other boutique style shops that provide taxes to their local government due to the tourism these historic towns attract. The attraction to these towns is the historic preservation.
Looking at the two examples above, we can see that historic preservation is important part of our culture - it unites us. And, I believe historic preservation is key for Santa Clara County to further itself as a destination location. People enjoy a sense of historic place. Santa Clara County could further its historic inventory and by doing so can become a worldwide destination place.
Per Question 2, as part of the Friends of the Winemakers board we are working to and supporting the rehabilitation of the historic Almaden Winery building.