A group of residents who ponied up their money to install a security fence and gate in a public easement on their block to ward off criminals are catching some heat to remove it.
Although Rosecrest Terrace residents in the Rose Garden neighborhood expected to receive permission to keep the fence, the San Jose City Council on Jan. 10 postponed a vote on their request after others complained about the barrier. City staff asked the council for more time to do research.
“Additional planning work is needed,” public works deputy director Michael Liw told the Resident. He said staff has to determine whether the fence complies with the city’s General Plan or the original planned development rezoning and permit associated with the neighborhood subdivision.
Residents last year privately funded the wrought iron fence, which stands just under seven feet tall, after experiencing multiple crimes on their cul-de-sac, including an armed robbery.
Armando Lopez, one of the two neighbors who had obtained a 90-day revocable encroachment permit from the city in October to temporarily retain the fence, said at the time that criminals were using the easement to enter their neighborhood, commit crimes and easily escape.
Until the fence was installed to deter such illicit activities, the easement had been a major pedestrian route to Dana Avenue, frequently used by neighbors and Lincoln High students.
Crime has stopped since the fence was installed, neighbors say, but others said they think it “goes too far”.
“Closing these routes to me and all other citizens deprives us of the use of public rights of way for which our tax dollars are paid,” resident Jill Escher wrote in an email to city officials.
The gate “could be a wonderful opportunity for a broader community conversation about protecting all of our streets,” Escher said, adding that the general public should have received better notice about the easement vote.
Another resident said the fence’s placement conflicts with the General Plan’s goals to increase urban connectivity by creating a “physical obstacle and barrier that impedes pedestrian and bicycle movement.”
Other available routes, including east-west access from Park Avenue to Dana Avenue through Calaveras Avenue, are still “reasonable” and provide “adequate pedestrian circulation and public access,” according to public works division manager Bryan Do.
“It’s an unusual situation,” Do responded to Escher in an email. The city can issue temporary encroachment permits for “a variety of situations,” but there is no policy on notices involving temporary easement closures.
Neighbor Colleen Pizarev told the Resident she hopes the city “will push this all through and we will get approval just a bit later than we had hoped.”
City officials are planning a community meeting and will mail notices about it to neighbors within a 500-foot radius of the fence and gate.