San Jose Bike Party January Swarm in Santa Clara
About a month ago, Santa Clara residents on the 200 block of Saratoga Ave. had a surprise visit from San Jose Bike Party (www.sjbikeparty.org, www.facebook.com/sjbikeparty), when a swarm of several thousand bicyclists made had a rendezvous at the strip mall across the street between San Tomas and Pruneridge.
SJBP is an amorphous group that conducts monthly flash mob-like bicycle rides that begin and end in downtown San Jose, with stops in nearby neighborhoods and cities. The routes for the rides are published on the group’s Facebook page the day of the ride, and each has a theme. January’s was “fur and feathers.”
The un-organized event brings out thousands of bike riders who converge on predetermined locations along the route for food trucks and entertainment that organizers – whose identities aren’t revealed on the website or FB page – schedule in advance.
Beer and marijuana are also openly enjoyed at the events, although that part of the entertainment isn’t promoted on the group’s sites. After about an hour at each stop, the party moves on, eventually ending up back in downtown San Jose around midnight. The group also has a cleanup team that stays behind at each stop to pick up the trash left behind.
At the Jan. 17 stop, one rider who gave her name as Ginger said that she’s been participating in Bike Party for six years, “because it’s fun to ride with other people in a big group.”
Another 25 year-old participant and Santa Clara resident, Quinn, described his reasons for riding as “massive boredom” with the area’s entertainment options; noting that Bike Parties were socially and ethically preferable to drag-racing down the El Camino and graffiti tagging public spaces.
Santa Clara businesses that inadvertently played host in January weren’t so happy with the event, however. San Tomas Liquors closed early, when the owner observed over-21 riders coming in to buy 12-packs of beer and then passing them out to the crowd. And the Lucky’s supermarket reported that the store’s bathroom was “trashed” by the visitors.
The Santa Clara PD has been following the Bike Parties for several years. “It was a big [traffic safety] problem last year,” says SCPD Chief Mike Sellars, with thousands of bike riders taking to the road. As a result, several local police agencies combined forces to monitor the bike posse along their routes.
The police have since spoken with the event’s organizers, “and since then we’ve had a better experience, and they pretty much abide by the rules of the road.” Police policy is to stay hands-off, unless there’s trouble. However, Sellars says that SCPD will look into the businesses’ complaints.
Bike Party is planning two upcoming rides: Dead Presidents Ride on Feb. 21, and Hippies and Hipsters on March 21.
Proposed Residential/Retail Development at Monroe and Lawrence Draft EIR Available for Review
The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for Irvine’s proposed Monticello Village project on 16 acres at 3515-3585 Monroe St. (near Lawrence Expressway) is available for review. Public comments can be submitted until 5 p.m. on March 17. The project was discussed at a public study session last December, and the DEIR exhaustively describes the project, potential community and environmental impacts, and mitigation measures.
Irvine is proposing a development with 825 residential units, 43,849 square feet of retail space, and 16,688 square feet of amenities; and includes all the parking needed for both uses rather than shared parking. The site currently is home to one-story industrial buildings with broad expanses of parking lots. A public study session is planned for April, with Council action likely following in May.
The development will have retail downstairs and apartments upstairs, and the plan significantly improves street access in the area. Because of its close proximity to the Caltrain Lawrence Station, the development is particularly well-oriented for public transit – and could, potentially create the critical mass to transform the little-used train station.
The first building on the site was the Jefferson School in 1927, with the rest being farmed until 1948. From 1980 through 1983, Mission Interim College and West Valley Community College occupied the site. The school buildings were demolished and the current complex of four one-story buildings was constructed in 1983-84. The most recent tenant was Extreme Networks. The property was acquired by Irvine in 2013, and the buildings are now vacant in anticipation of redevelopment.
You can find the DEIR documents at http://santaclaraca.gov/index.aspx?page=2193. Comments on the project should be sent to Associate Planner Yen Han Chen, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 1500 Warburton Avenue Santa Clara, 95050.
Central Park Pond Clean-Up, Plus Skateboarding Ban
At the Jan. 28 meeting the Council also approved plans for the Central Park Pond Improvement Project. By this summer, the pond “should be much cleaner and more pleasant environment than it has been in the past,” said Mayor Jamie Matthews.
The Council also unanimously passed an amendment to the City Code to prohibit skateboarding on park walkways. Parks and Recreation Director James Teixeira provided a report on potential and near collisions of skateboarders and with skateboarders and pedestrians in the park.
Public Budget and Fee Hearings Coming Up
Starting in April, public hearings are scheduled for municipal fees and the proposed budget for 2014-2015:
- April 22: Public Hearing to consider the approval of the Municipal Fee Schedule.
- May 20: Study Session to review the proposed 2014-15 Capital Improvement Project and Operating Budgets.
- June 10: Public Hearing to consider the approval of 2014-15 Budgets, including Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency, Sports & Open Space Authority, Housing Authority, Stadium Authority, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Federal Home Program.
Toll Lanes in Highway 85 Proposed, VTA Wants to Hear From You
VTA is proposing express lanes – i.e. toll lanes – on Highway 85 as a possible solution to traffic congestion, and they want residents’ input. The agency proposes to convert 27 miles of existing carpool lanes into express lanes, and add a second express lane between Highway 87 and I-280. The project will also convert the existing carpool direct connector in south San Jose – from US 101 to Highway 85 – to an express lane connector. ?Carpools with two or more occupants, motorcycles, transit buses, and clean air vehicles with applicable decals can continue to use the express lanes for free. To learn more and make your voice heard, visit tinyurl.com/sr85express.