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Transit-Oriented Displacement? The San Jose Flea Market and the Opportunity Costs of Smart Growth

TOD San Jose Flea Market

As California’s population continues to expand and places like the Bay Area metropolitan region experience new development pressures, land use and transportation planners, economic development agencies and policy makers must carefully weigh the economic and environmental benefits and costs of growth. If we focus new growth in higher-density developments served by public transit, what might be the impacts of such “smart
growth” on low-income households, the racial diversity of communities, and the viability of small or family-owned businesses? In San Jose, the largest city in the Silicon Valley high-tech industry cluster, there has long been pressure to better match housing availability – for workers of all
income levels – with jobs availability. Such efforts seek to reduce the time workers must spend commuting to and from their jobs, mitigate the air pollution and global warming effects of such automobile travel patterns, preserve greenfield lands in less urbanized locales, improve quality of life for workers, and prevent worker productivity declines attributable to burdensome commute times. These goals can, however, get buried under the counter-pressures a city faces to retain and expand its job base, while also increasing tax revenue from non-residential developments such as retail power centers or office parks (Elmer et al. 2006). Toward these multifaceted ends, San Jose has joined a growing number of cities that are experimenting with transit-oriented development around light or heavy fixedrail transit stations. Over the long run, the city is looking forward to the addition of four new BART stations that will comprise the commuter rail agency’s Silicon Valley extension into Santa Clara County. The first of these four San Jose stations will be built at the site of the current San Jose Flea Market in the Berryessa neighborhood.

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