Northern News

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A publication of the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Northern Section

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New urban village development threatens to displace San Jose’s 60-year-old Berryessa flea market

By Jennifer Wadsworth, San Jose Spotlight, March 31, 2021

“For undocumented workers who might otherwise labor away for low-wage under-the-table cash, the [Berryessa flea market] offers an increasingly rare shot at upward mobility. An untold number—untold because no one has yet made the effort to track it—grew into some of East Side’s marquee brick-and-mortar businesses, including the Shoe Palace, Ramos Furniture and Calderon Tires.

“[Now, plans] 20 years in the making to bring 3,450 homes and 3.4 million square feet of commercial space to the 120-acre property are approaching an important milestone.

“[In] May, the City Council expects to vote on rezoning the flea market to pave way for a $2.5 billion development pitched as a crowning glory to San Jose’s Berryessa BART Urban Village, a blueprint for the dense, transit-centered development needed to reduce the city’s carbon footprint.

“With the market at risk of being displaced out of existence, sellers are organizing.

“ ‘We do need the city or county to step up,’ said [Erik Schoennaeur, a land-use consultant representing the property owners] in a recent phone call with San Jose Inside. ‘Because the flea market can’t afford to exist on market-rate land—the rents vendors pay to operate just don’t support that.’

Berryessa flea market business owners and their representatives expect the city or some other public entity to help prevent displacement and gentrification. “[Last summer’s] professed commitment to equity by [San Jose] leaders gives the public a new standard by which to hold them accountable, [Jesus Flores, the founding president of Latino Business Foundation Silicon Valley] notes.”

Read the full article here, including profiles of Berryessa flea market vendors and the significance of the flea market in the San Jose economy. (~12 min.)

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