San Jose: A city planner’s dream

City of San Jose planning department map.

San Jose is a destination for opportunists. People move here from all over the country, and the world for new jobs. But many are coming to San Jose for more than a job opportunity, they are coming for an opportunity to change the physical landscape of the city. Planners. They are coming from urban centers like New York, Washington DC, and Philadelphia. City planners, transportation planners, urban planners, bicycle and pedestrian planners, all coming for the ability to say they were able to shape San Jose for the future.

For transportation planners it is bringing the BART expansion to San Jose. It’s expanding Bus Rapid Transit(BRT) down the Alum Rock/Santa Clara Street corridor, and maybe eventually down San Carlos/Stevens Creek. It’s about bringing High Speed Rail(HSR) to California and integrating seamlessly with with regional transit networks. It’s about fighting the car dependent culture in San Jose, and making transit a cheaper, quicker option for people. It’s looking at how to integrate the more than two dozen transit networks in the Bay Area so that travel is easier and convenient.

For city planners it is looking at a broad picture of transforming a suburban sprawl city into a network of urban villages. It’s working with transportation planners on access to different parts of the city, and connectivity issues. It’s about smart growth, and developing regional solutions of homelessness and affordable.

For urban planners, it is looking at pedestrian friendly streets, and creating well design density. It’s creating public places people want to be in, and can find easily. It’s about connecting different parts of downtown, and designing buildings that work for humans first. It’s about limiting cars, and allowing bicyclists lanes on streets, providing multi-modal options, and creating inviting streetscapes.

San Jose is the epicenter of planning. The wild west. Whatever metaphor is used, San Jose is where it’s at for planners. The opportunity to play Sim City in real life and affect change onto a 150+ sq mi landscape.

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