November 4, 2014 General Election
The five questions below were sent to District 3 candidates Don Gagliardi and Raul Peralez. Both candidates have qualified to be considered for our endorsement by answering these questions. Thank You!
1. If elected, what will you do to help San Jose achieve its Envision San Jose 2040 General Plan goal to reduce total vehicle miles traveled in the city by 40% by 2040?
Don Gagliardi: I am the urbanist candidate for the downtown San Jose City Council District 3. I’ve previously lived in San Francisco (where I practiced law for four years), as well as in St. Louis (where I attended college) and Buffalo (where I grew up), and I have traveled to major cities across North America and around the globe, including New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Rome, Munich, Amsterdam, Prague, Singapore, Taipei, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, and most recently Guatemala City. I was an urbanist before SPUR established an outpost in San Jose and certainly before it was hip to call yourself one in suburban-minded San Jose. My program as councilperson will be to accelerate the urbanization of San Jose’s downtown core, which will include promoting policies that encourage more residential high-rises and other transit-oriented development. In reviewing development proposals as councilmember, I will encourage developers to reduce tenant parking ratios, to unbundle parking, to offer free car-share membership, and to offer free or reduced-fee transit passes to residents. I will work diligently to assure that the Diridon area is developed in a way that achieves its potential as the west coast’s answer to Grand Central Station in New York. It is tremendously important to achieving reduction in vehicle miles that we obtain a truly urban and pedestrian-friendly renewal of that area. Additionally, I am and have been a major proponent of protected bicycle lanes, and urban park trails, to encourage commuter and recreational cycling, not only in downtown but across San Jose. I will work to significantly expand the network of bike lanes and off-street trails citywide. As previously mentioned, I would like to make San Jose a bicycle mecca. And, except insofar as exigency requires a car, as city council member I will set an example by daily commuting by bicycle to City Hall as my primary means of transportation. As I’ve told Bike Partiers, I am the candidate who doesn’t merely talk-the-talk but also rides-the-ride.
Raul Peralez: The only way we can realize a reduction of total vehicle miles traveled in the city by 40% is to provide our residents, employees and visitors with efficient alternative modes of transportation. We have to provide better public transportation in order to reduce our carbon footprint and turn into a true urban center. I have grown up in San Jose, utilizing our buses, trains, and bikeways for over thirty years. As a former student of San Jose State, I was sadly aware of the “commuter school” culture. As a resident of downtown, I live directly off the light rail line and, though I have happily taken the train to Levi’s Stadium, I still cannot take a train straight into the airport. Working patrol in the public transportation deprived East side of San José, I can regularly get caught up in up to 30 minutes of traffic as I drive back to the downtown police station at the end of my shift. I have lived my entire lifetime in San José, eager to see our city grown up into a true urban city. Having traveled and used efficient public transportation systems all around the world, I know we, as the 10th largest city in America, can do better. If elected, I will ensure more reliable public transportation is being built and connecting our entire city. I will request that our new mayor appoint me to be a representative on the VTA board. I will ensure that BART completes its route into downtown. I will incentivize urban developments that offer free and discounted VTA passes. I will support the construction of more bike and pedestrian pathways in our urban areas as well as in our creeks and trails. Being 20 years younger than my opponent, I will not only still be in my 50’s when 2040 finally rolls around but I most likely still be working and living in San José with my family as I have been my entire life. I much better represent the demographic of our growing city and seeing through plans like the Envision 2040 Plan and the reduction of vehicle miles traveled will not just be a short political blip in my life, it will be something I will be proud of as I take my family on BART or as I ride my bike to work throughout the next 26 years. I am the candidate who has been here, and will be here, for the “entire ride”.
2. If elected, how will you ensure the completion of central San Jose’s off-street trail network so that the Guadalupe River Trail, Los Gatos Creek Trail, Three Creeks Trail, and Coyote Creek Trail are all continuous and connect with each other?
Don Gagliardi: As mentioned, I have long been a major proponent of the trail network. For example, the Coyote Creek Trail is among the top 10 priorities in the Thirteenth Street (SNI) Revitalization Plan, drafted under my leadership of the 13th St. NAC and adopted by City Council in April 2002. Delays in implementation are largely a function of insufficient funding. I will make it a priority to work with City of San Jose trails coordinator Yves Zsutty to identify and supplement the grant funding needed to complete the trails network within San Jose.
Raul Peralez: Absolutely! I believe San José is losing on economic development and hugely underestimating the use of historic space. By creating a unified trail system, we will provide more space for families to exercise, bike and walk together, promote cycling within our residents, and motivate more people to visit our city. San José was founded in this location because of the Guadalupe River, and it’s time we had a homegrown San José representative for district 3 that embodies the importance of what our rivers, creeks and trails really mean to this city. If elected, I will be a strong voice for the development of unified, safe and family-friendly trail networks.
3. Do you support implementing future Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines with dedicated bus lanes that require the removal of general travel lanes or vehicle parking lanes? Why or why not?
Don Gagliardi: Yes, I support policies and measures which prioritize mass transit over automobile traffic and vehicle parking. Bus rapid transit lines work well in San Francisco and other municipalities.
Raul Peralez: The current development of Bus Rapid Transit along Alum Rock/Santa Clara St is a welcomed development. I support implementing future lines as they will be an integral step in moving from a car dependent city to one with multiple modes of efficient transportation. I have the sole endorsement of the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation voters because they know I will be a champion for the environment, for reducing our carbon footprint and for supporting more public transportation efforts like BRT.
4. Do you support the inclusion of the Alum Rock station, a BART station in the vicinity of Santa Clara Street / Alum Rock Avenue and Highway 101, in the extension of BART service from Fremont to downtown San Jose? Why or why not?
Don Gagliardi: Yes. The community around Five Wounds Church was promised such a station and the planning processes for the community over several years have been conducted in earnest reliance on promises that such a station would be constructed. It would be a gross breach of faith with the community for the Five Wounds BART station to be removed from the construction plans. It is also poor planning to dispossess a growing urban neighborhood of a significant transit option.
Raul Peralez: I absolutely support the Alum Rock BART station. I believe San José as a city is already behind on the development of BART, and we need to take all the steps necessary to get us up to speed with the public transportation needs of our residents. This particular station has been part of the development plans in the area for nearly 15 years. In working with the Friends of Five Wounds association and other residents in the area and I know they were astonished to hear that they may not get the BART station in their neighborhood. As I told the neighborhood residents just this week, I will be a strong voice for them and advocate for the development of this BART station.
5. Do you support an ordinance banning cycling on sidewalks in downtown San Jose? Why or why not?
Don Gagliardi: No. I believe cyclists should be respectful of pedestrians, i.e., not reckless, while riding on sidewalks but otherwise should have the right to use them, as appropriate. We should be protecting cyclists, not prohibiting them. In areas where protected bicycle lanes are made available on the street, it is appropriate to prohibit use of the adjacent sidewalks for bicycle traffic. However, protected bike lanes are virtually unknown in the downtown and in many locations the streets are designed in a way that they are simply unsafe for cyclists. In such locations, it should not only be lawful but considered prudent for cyclists to use sidewalks. North First Street near my law office provides a good example of an overly narrow single traffic lane in each direction unsafe for cyclists. Ironically, poor planning during installation of the light rail line has made the route largely inaccessible for cyclists.
Raul Peralez: Although I understand the safety concerns for pedestrians, especially senior residents, I do not believe banning cycling on sidewalks is the long-term solution to the problem. There are several routes around downtown, many that I ride myself, where there are no bike lanes or simply where it is just completely unsafe to ride in the roadway. I believe we need to have better enforcement of “reckless” riders but an all out ban of sidewalk use is not the direction we need to go.
June 3, 2014 Primary Election
Don Gagliardi and Kathy Sutherland won our dual endorsement in the June 3 primary election for San Jose City Council District 3. All six candidates qualified to be considered for our endorsement by answering our seven questions (below).
Raul Peralez and Don Gagliardi were the top-two vote receivers in the June 3 election. The winner of the November 4 run-off election between them will serve a four-year term representing District 3 on the San Jose City Council.
Don Gagliardi | donforcitycouncil.com | firstname.lastname@example.org
George Kleidon | georgekleidon.com | Kleidon.email@example.com
John Hosmon | johnhosmonforsjdistrict3.com | firstname.lastname@example.org
Kathy Sutherland | kathysutherland4citycouncil.com | Kathy@KathySutherland4CityCouncil.com
Mauricio Mejia | mejiaforcitycouncil2014.com | Mauricio@mejiaforcitycouncil2014.com
Raul Peralez | raulperalez.com | VotePeralez2014@raulperalez.com
1. Do you walk regularly? Where do you walk?
Don Gagliardi: Yes, I have for many years walked for exercise and to spare the environment on a daily basis in the downtown core where I work – to the coffee shop, to lunch, to the bank, to the Rotary Club’s weekly meetings. Now that I am a city council candidate, I also walk virtually every afternoon door-to-door in a neighborhood precinct.
John Hosmon: I walk all the time. It is why I live downtown. Although I split my time between walking and taking my bicycle. All depends on my mood, where I am going, etc. But, being able to walk around my city is extremely important. I live at 1st and Julian. I walk to Sharks games at SAP center, to San Pedro Square, to my friends’ houses who live downtown, to the bank, the gym, the post office, to the store, etc. I actually walk to most of the city hall functions and to the candidate forums (I walked to the forum at the Roosevelt Community center at 21st and Santa Clara. I did this in the afternoon heat and in a suit. But I like walking and eschew parking). I imagine running is inclusive of running, and I run on the Guadalupe Trail, and through parts of the core to people watch while jogging.
Mauricio Mejia: I generally walk in the downtown core as my office is located in a central location, making my daily activities in the core within walking distance. I walk to restaurants, retail locations as well as entertainment venues. I find that walking to my destination allows me to really see the city and its infrastructure and identify areas that are lacking in services.
Raul Peralez: One of the things I love most about living downtown is that I get the ability to walk often and enjoy many of the local businesses we are lucky to have in our area. Most importantly, walking is the primary way that I keep not only myself physically active, but also the two dogs that I own. I walk around my neighborhood, at my local park, and local restaurants.
George Kleidon: Yes, I walk often with my family. We take daily walks around our neighborhood. We like to also walk on the trails and parks like Alum Rock, Penitencia Creek park, Guadalupe River Park Trail.
2. Do you ride a bicycle regularly? Where do you bike?
Don Gagliardi: Yes, I have for several year, since visiting Amsterdam in 2007, ridden a bike for exercise and pleasure. I have cruiser-style bicycle similar to those favored by the Dutch. I regularly ride to work a couple times a week and to the bagel shop in a nearby neighborhood on the weekends. I am looking forward to riding my bicycle to City Hall nearly every day once elected to the City Council, and to the new San Jose Earthquakes stadium when it opens next year.
Kathy Sutherland: Yes, I live within the Downtown Core and have used San Fernando as my east/west corridor for years. I know that bicycling is the quickest most efficient way to get around downtown. The new lighting on San Fernando is a major improvement to the nighttime use of this bike lane. In addition, I frequently use the Guadalupe trail system for leisure.
John Hosmon: When/if I am not walking, I am usually on my bicycle. That is primarily my main mode of transportation. I had my first cruiser bike stolen, and bought another one the very next day. I had the tires stolen off that bike, and bought new tires the same day. I love my bike and could not be without it! I bike to the same places I walk to, but I can do further distances on my bike. I will bike to Willow Glen sometimes. And on occasion, I will bike to work. I do not do this as much as it takes a lot of work and planning (I work 12 hours shifts on an ambulance that start at noon, so between lunchbox, gear bag, jacket, helmet, and starting my shift at noon with a good sweat on my body is not conducive to a good shift). But, if elected, I would definitely walk or bike to work at City Hall!
Raul Peralez: I am the owner of a classic Schwinn beach cruiser and I like to ride it whenever I get the opportunity to use a different form of transportation. I like to ride into nearby Japantown for either the farmers market or with my girlfriend to catch a movie in the heart of downtown. A few years ago I began mountain bike riding for exercise with a group of friends and I have participated in several bike and run competitions since then. When the opportunities arise I also like to take rides down the local bike trails, such as the Guadalupe River Trail.
3. If elected, what would you do to reduce the number of fatalities (28 in 2013) and serious injuries suffered by people walking and bicycling in San Jose?
Don Gagliardi: I have long been a proponent for making San Jose a more pedestrian and bicycle friendly city. For example, I was an active member of the former “Walk San Jose”, which advocated for such measure. We can do several things that will greatly improve the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists: We can complete the conversion of the one-way couplets (10th & 11th and Vine and Almaden streets) to two-way traffic. We can invest in and expand the NASCOP program, which helps control speeding in our neighborhoods. We can continue to build out the network of bicycle lanes and, where possible, make these lanes “protected” lanes with physical buffers. We can ensure that all new construction in the downtown, and in “urban villages” thoughout the city, be built consistent with 21st century urbanist design to promote greater pedestrian and bicycling activity. For example, we can approve projects without (or with greatly reduced) parking requirements, where appropriate. And we can scrap San Jose’s traditional traffic level-of-service policy that grades our streets not on their safety but on how quickly they usher cars along.
Kathy Sutherland: I think that we need to have different strategies to address bicycle and pedestrian safety for the different areas of San Jose. What works best in the Downtown core and District 3 might not be the right answer for Almaden, north San Jose, or Evergreen. District 3 is the most walkable/bikeable and least car dependent district in San Jose. We must make sure that pedestrians and cyclists are integrated into any traffic plan. To continue to build upon this transportation mode shift, we must make sure that we are creating pathways that are convenient and safe. We should also promote a citywide public information campaign that reminds drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists that we all share our streets, sidewalks, and trails. As the councilmember representing the area of San Jose where residents already embrace walkable and bikeable communities this will be a priority. I value the work already being done within this community and would welcome suggestions and information to further my understanding about what is being done in other cities throughout the world. There is much to be learned from others.
John Hosmon: I would increase the availability of and promote the use of special bike lanes. I would love to develop a cultural change in the mindset of our city. One where we not only accept, but promote walking and biking. This is done by people buying into this idea. Bike party, bike lanes, increased people out of their cars will help further influence this change in mindset. I will lead by example and encourage others who have the same feelings to do the same. As far as reducing fatalities and injuries, part of it will be the culture change. People driving need to not only be tolerant of people walking/biking, but also cognizant of them. This can come from a multitude of ways: increased advertising, social media, a larger presence of bikes and pedestrians, and police enforcement. But, people walking and biking also need to be observant of their surroundings and the rules. Working on an ambulance, frequently I run calls for auto vs. pedestrians. Often, the calls come in after dark, and the injured pedestrian is wearing dark clothes and was outside of the crosswalk. So it’s about being aware (for the drivers) and responsibility (for the pedestrians and bikers).
Mauricio Mejia: I would seek to make drivers (and pedestrians) more aware of bicyclists on the road. I also feel it’s important for drivers to understand the newly implemented bicycle lanes and how best to drive on the roads when they are present. A formal campaign of understanding ought to be undertaken to this end to really maximize their implementation.
Raul Peralez: I believe we must ensure we have enough public safety officials in the streets to control traffic and reduce the amount of traffic violations, which is the cause of most of these injuries. As a police officer myself, I have personally seen far too many officers flee our city, and in turn, we have had to cut specialized units and lost our ability to address issues such as these. I plan on rebuilding our public safety and restoring the much needed units, like our motors unit, so we can enforce traffic laws and discourage the individuals behind the wheel from exceeding the speed limit and violating traffic laws. Restoring city services will also help us bring back more personnel, such as crossing guards in schools with heavy traffic.
George Kleidon: In order to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries by people walking and bicycling, I believe we first need to look at the data and see where they are occurring. Then we need to invest in infrastructures such as bike lanes, trail connections, more pedestrian and driver signage. We need to make sure our roads are maintained and that issues such as potholes are taken care of in a timely manner. We also need to educate pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers more on road safety and sharing the road.
4. Do you support Vision Zero legislation (similar to that adopted this year by New York and San Francisco) to establish a goal for San Jose to eliminate pedestrian and bicyclist traffic-related fatalities by 2025?
John Hosmon: I obviously support that vision. However, with a city of a million people, it is difficult to reach everyone and get them ALL to buy in on such a vision. I feel a large stigma in placed on the drivers of vehicles to take full responsibility for this vision. However, as I eluded to earlier, I see many cases where the pedestrian is completely at fault. And I have watched the driver emotionally damaged by an event that was both out of their control and not their fault. I hope this does not jeopardize my standing with your group, which I am extremely excited about, but I will ALWAYS strive to be pragmatic rather than emotionally responsive.
5. How can San Jose generate the funds to construct truly Complete Streets that are safe and accessible for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit users of all ages and abilities?
Don Gagliardi: Fund for traffic improvements traditionally come from free from new development. We need to use these fees creatively to ensure that our streets are more pedestrian and bicycle friendly rather than simply for street widening and street paving projects. Investing in conversion of the one-way couplets to two-way traffic and corner bulb-outs mid-street pedestrian islands are good examples. Also, when streets are re-surfaced, striping them with bicycle lanes should be a standard part of the process (as occurred on Hedding Street).
Kathy Sutherland: For the near future, San José will need to continue applying for regional grants to help pay for the cost of constructing Complete Streets. The 2040 General Plan calls for a reduction in car trips which is a strong component of Complete Streets and helps our grant funding opportunities. In the long term, we will need to make the construction a priority and make sure that the entire city understands the importance of Complete Streets not only for District 3, but also how this network will provide transportation options and make transportation improves in their own district.
John Hosmon: I feel we have a great opportunity to create and enhance our business community. This is especially true for our small business. As we nurture this growth, we grow our revenue base. We can then afford to construct the streets and sidewalks out community demands. This in turn leads to more people coming here, staying here, and spending money here. It might come off as idealistic, but, it is ok to believe in a vision for a city, with people outside, walking, biking, enjoying our unique and cutting edge community.
Mauricio Mejia: Funds ought to be generated or accessed for this purpose through Federal Grants solely dedicated for this use. As the City is still recovering from an economic downturn, we must be resourceful in meeting this need and not incur additional taxation for this purpose.
Raul Peralez: San Jose has been in a pension reform standstill for years and, in turn, our public services have suffered. I want to address these issues on day one and begin to restore our much-needed public services. In order to keep up with the costs of the city, we must also generate some revenue. If elected, I would support development and housing impact fees to ensure we have the funds necessary to construct complete streets that are safe for everyone.
6. Do you support investing in extensions of San Jose’s many disconnected walking and bicycling trails (Guadalupe River Trail, Los Gatos Creek Trail, Highway 87 Trail, Coyote Creek Trail) to connect them with each other to form a practical network of trails?
Don Gagliardi: Yes, I have been a longtime proponent of the trail system, and, through my leadership, the Coyote Creek Trail near Watson Park, together, with a pedestrian / bicycle bridge over the creek is part of the top ten priorities within my 13th Street Strong Neighborhoods Initiative revitalization plan.
Kathy Sutherland: Yes. Completing the linked trail system will be one of the best ways to encourage residents in the suburban areas of San Jose to commute via bicycle. As a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee for the Open Space Authority I know that San Jose can look to partnerships with like-minded organizations. The OSA funded more than half of the cost of the Three Creeks Trail western alignment and we should look forward to working with them in the future. The goal to reduce our reliance upon the automobile is shared by many organizations and we should partner with multiple agencies to move this issue forward.
John Hosmon: I not only support this, but have the support of many in my community. I have been campaigning by knocking on thousands of doors in many different areas of our district. So many residents want a path, trail, or eco-friendly way to get into our core. We all live downtown to be close to our shops, dining, nightlife, culture, etc. So, as a representative, it is nice to not only have a vision, but to have that vision supported by those who I represent.
Raul Peralez: I absolutely support investing in these extensions. This will also help to decrease the number of injuries and fatalities on our road, as no cars will have access to these trails. In addition, these trails can provide families with many options for leisure and outdoor fun. They are preexisting gems and we need to utilize them to their full potential.
7. Do you believe that converting general travel lanes into buffered bike lanes (like on 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th, and Hedding streets) is an effective way to reduce vehicle speeds and collisions, and do you support converting more travel lanes into buffered bike lanes?
Don Gagliardi: Yes. I am a major proponent of buffered – and protected – bicycle lanes for San Jose’s streets to calm traffic and provide a better biking experience. I was an early advocate for creating a system of bicycle lanes, and additional bicycle racks, in the downtown following a visit to Amsterdam in 2007. I believe downtown San Jose, with its flat landscape, beautiful climate, and long history of biking, is a perfect candidate for becoming a bicycle mecca.
Kathy Sutherland: I personally understand the benefit of converting travel lanes to buffered bike lanes as another way to calm traffic, but I think the positive results of this conversion need to be provided to the public after the bike lanes have been in use for an extended period of time. In addition to information about the effect of converting travel lanes to bike lanes I would also ask for information about the benefit of bike lanes like the one on San Fernando. Given our suburban design, I would also be very cautious about creating situations where drivers are continuously caught in traffic jams on streets considered pedestrian and bicycle routes. Frustrated drivers are unsafe drivers and I would be very concerned with them having direct interface with those walking and biking. A strong citywide public education and outreach component should be an integrated part of any additional travel lane proposals.
John Hosmon: This is a difficult question. I do believe this. And people who bike along these lanes agree as well. However, some of these lanes in certain areas have been met with animosity and resistance by those living near these streets. So, it’s about striking a balance while trying to get the people to buy in on what is an effective way to move San Jose forward: out of our cars, away from vast parking lots, and into the streets. It supports our environment, our health, and is the city I want to be a part of!
Mauricio Mejia: I have noticed that the implementation of the bicycle lanes has created some traffic issues as well as confusion among drivers as to how to best navigate them. I’d prefer that prior to additional lanes being converted, that city residents be educated on their use and additional traffic mitigation studies be conducted so has to minimize their effect on traffic congestion.
Raul Peralez: I do believe the buffered lanes are effective in reducing vehicle speeds. They are also a much safer lane for bicyclist and I admit I feel much safer myself when I ride in them. However, some of these lanes are under utilized and have become the cause of horrible traffic jams. The intent of the lanes will not be completely successful until we have more reliable public transportation and we are able to motivate more of our residents to utilize alternative modes of transportation. If elected, I will work with the city in order to build better public transportation options to make all our roads safer for vehicles and bicyclists. I would also like to initiate a campaign to motivate more of our residents to use these transportation alternatives.
George Kleidon: I do believe it’s a great idea of converting it but prior to converting I do believe that it is very important to gather all the data, talk to all the residents who live in those particular areas, as well as bicyclists to gather their ideas before going in and making the changes. I have spoken with many residents on Hedding Street that are not happy about the traffic congestion and at times inaccessibility in and out of their driveways. This is something that will affect them the most and they should be able to have a voice in this matter.