By Pete Campbell
In a rare display of public defiance, Councilmember Dave Cortese challenged the Mayor of San Jose both in print and in public.
On May 15th, the Mercury News published an Op-Ed piece written by Cortese that challenged the process by which the city government is planning its huge development projects in North San Jose and in the Coyote Valley. “We need to make San Jose better before we make it bigger,” Cortese wrote. “We need a vision of what the city is like when ‘done.’”
“Historically, the city’s general plan has been the method used to shape the city’s future. But the general plan is outdated. City staff has asked that it be updated, but Mayor Ron Gonzales says the city can’t afford a costly update process now.”
“In the meantime, the lack of a clear vision leaves us vulnerable to a disjointed and poorly planned future at best, and a heavy-handed developer influenced planning process at worst.” “…Our suburbs are at their limits of growth and have been afflicted by runaway sprawl.”
In his Op-Ed piece, Councilman Cortese expressed his frustration that the work of the Evergreen Visioning Task Force that he had supervised for the past two years was going to be “rejected” by the council and replaced by a new committee. The task force had been designed to study how the Evergreen area should be further developed.
“It, (the city council) adopted the mayor’s proposal to start a new planning process laden with property owners, developers, and insiders.”
Gonzales responded to Cortese in an Op-Ed piece of his own that ran in the Mercury News two days after Cortese’s.
“In Sunday’s Op-Ed piece… he (Cortese) distorted the city’s planning efforts to make personal attacks on his colleagues. Since he himself has long been involved in the decisions on those planning efforts and never expressed outrage before, I can only conclude that either he is sadly deluded or deliberately rewriting history.”
Mr. Gonzales went on to argue that planning for the development of the Evergreen area “is far too important to leave to just one councilmember and his committee.”
In the end, the city council voted 8 to 2 to replace the Evergreen Valley Task force with a new planning that will advise the council on development in the Evergreen project area.