San Tomas Expressway with path on right and homes on left.

Turning Eyesores Into Housing and Trails

With land at a premium in Santa Clara County, we need to better utilize existing public land.  It should be possible to produce housing that is more affordable on public land than in locations where the land has to be acquired from a private entity. When that land intersects with areas that could potentially have good transit options, such as an expressway, it is even better.

An example of a strip of underutilized land that should be further explored for development are the air-rights above San Tomas Creek, between Williams and Hamilton. The air-rights are presumably owned by the Santa Clara Valley Water District which has been investigating ways their properties can be utilized to help ameliorate the county’s affordability and homeless problems, .

San Tomas as it is today with an ugly culvert.
San Tomas Expressway – Between Williams and Payne
San Tomas Expressway with path on right and homes on left.
San Tomas Expressway with modular homes on left and walking path on right.

By adding housing and associated open space in the form of trails, plazas and parklets, the exposed concrete channel would be covered, making the entire strip much more attractive than at present.

Funding for such a project could come from multiple sources, including monies from measures passed for open spaces, homelessness and, perhaps, even AB32, the cap-and-trade carbon tax program.

This approach. where a concrete platform covers public land, in this case a creek, is described by Patrick Kennedy of Panoramic Interests in this interview (note, the images of the modular micro-houses are courtesy of Panoramic Interests).  He suggests that using a modular technique, high-quality housing could be built relatively fast and at lower-cost than traditional stick-built housing.

http://winchesternac.com/2016/08/16/10000-homes-in-a-year-on-underutilized-land-part-2/


Note, on April 26th, 2017, I sent the following message in an email to the board of the Campbell Union High School District with the idea of “capping” parking lots above schools to provide onsite housing for teachers and staff.  This would reduce VMT, while providing eyes and ears at schools 24-hours per day. This kind of continual use would allow the schools to be opened to the community, instead of hidden behind metal fences as they are now.

April 26th, 2017 Message to Campbell Union High School District Board

I would like the district to investigate the idea of using its underutilized land for affordable housing for teachers and staff.

An example of a developer that can build relatively low-cost housing above an existing car parking lot (e.g. could be in the front or back of Del Mar) is seen in this video interview:

http://winchesternac.com/2016/08/16/car-free-micro-dna-and-modular-part-1/

As another example, here is a simple rendering and article I did of how this might work on existing, underutilized public land next to San Tomas Creek:

https://winchesterurbanvillage.wordpress.com/2016/12/21/turning-eyesores-into-housing-and-trails/

Lastly, I am the Vice President of the Winchester Neighborhood Action Coalition (WNAC). Our goal is to use innovation to improve the quality of life in the area bounded by Hamilton, San Tomas, Hedding/Pruneridge and 17/I-880. We would love to be able to discuss these types of things directly with the district.

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3 thoughts on “Turning Eyesores Into Housing and Trails”

  1. Several months ago at a D1 Leadership Group meeting, Councilmember Jones urged us to try to think of locations in District 1, where supportive and affordable housing could go. Further, at a forum on homelessness he organized, Linda Lezotte of the Santa Clara Water District suggested they were doing an inventory of possible land that they owned that could be used to help address affordability/homelessness. Finally, Daphna Woolfe called on us to think of possible locations for parks or parklets. So, this concept, which still needs to be fleshed out beyond my poor rendering, combines those thoughts.

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  2. And a letter I sent to the board of the Campbell Union High School District with the idea of “capping” parking lots above schools to provide onsite housing for teachers and staff. Would reduce VMT, while providing eyes and ears at schools 24-hours per day. This kind of continual use would allow the schools to be opened to the community, instead of hidden behind metal fences.

    I would like the district to investigate the idea of using its underutilized land for affordable housing for teachers and staff.

    An example of a developer that can build relatively low-cost housing above an existing car parking lot (e.g. could be in the front or back of Del Mar) is seen in this video interview:

    http://winchesternac.com/2016/08/16/car-free-micro-dna-and-modular-part-1/

    As another example, here is a simple rendering and article I did of how this might work on existing, underutilized public land next to San Tomas Creek:

    https://winchesterurbanvillage.wordpress.com/2016/12/21/turning-eyesores-into-housing-and-trails/

    Lastly, I am the Vice President of the Winchester Neighborhood Action Coalition (WNAC). Our goal is to use innovation to improve the quality of life in the area bounded by Hamilton, San Tomas, Hedding/Pruneridge and 17/I-880. We would love to be able to discuss these types of things directly with the district.

    Like

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