Nearly 700 homes eyed near San Jose’s Winchester Mystery House MHP

Nearly 700 homes eyed near San Jose’s Winchester Mystery House MHP

By George Avalos | | Bay Area News Group PUBLISHED: November 6, 2018 at 11:40 am | UPDATED: November 6, 2018 at 4:17 pm

SAN JOSE — Almost 700 homes are being eyed at the site of a west San Jose mobile home park near the Winchester Mystery House and Santana Row, a prospective development location that’s encountered controversy.

Pulte Homes has proposed the huge residential development on 15.7 acres near the northwest corner of South Winchester Boulevard and Interstate 280, a site perched near the south boundary of the Winchester House and one of the now-shuttered domed movie theaters that are a familiar fixture in the area.

The plans by Pulte, however, if approved as currently proposed, would require that roughly 110 mobile homes in the Winchester Ranch Mobile Home Park must be relocated or bulldozed to clear the way for the new home project.

Officials with the Pleasanton office of Pulte Homes have been working in recent years with the residents of the mobile home park to reach an agreement on how to transition the mobile home park into a new dense, urban neighborhood, said Erik Schoennauer, a land use and planning consultant who represents Pulte.

“Pulte Homes appreciates the cooperative efforts of the residents in the mobile home park,” Schoennauer said. “Pulte is committed to constructing replacement housing on-site so residents who have resided in the park can remain living within the new community at a rental rate similar to their existing rent.”

Pulte Homes has proposed up to 691 units, according to city planning documents. The group that owns the property, the Cali-Arioto family, has agreed to sell the site to Pulte. But word of the family’s decision to sell unleashed protests by housing advocates and residents of Winchester Ranch who feared they wouldn’t be able to easily find comparable housing, or be forced into smaller dwellings.

The potentially six-fold increase in the number of residential units means a huge jump in the density for the property, and higher densities in established sections of Bay Area communities certainly fits the goal of packing more homes into infill sites amid the brutal housing crisis in the pricey nine-county region.

However, the same housing crisis also might wave caution flags in front of political leaders that displace residents of mobile home parks that are supplanted by more denser — yet more expensive — housing. The political optics can become forbidding if senior citizens, a demographic that’s included in the residents of Winchester Ranch Mobile Home Park, are forced to depart due to a new development.

“San Jose has to grow up and not out, and a mobile home park is a bad land use for this site,” said Bob Staedler, principal executive with Silicon Valley Synergy, a land use and planning consultancy. “But what makes this such a challenging development is when you factor in the emotional and human impact.”

One group that tracks South Bay development issues, Catalyze SV, suggested that San Jose officials, Pulte Homes and the property owner, should engage the local community before any final development plans are crafted or approved.

“Catalyze SV believes in housing solutions for all, including affordable housing and housing for seniors,” said Alex Shoor, a board member with Catalyze SV. “The existing mobile home park is both. The future of this land should enable the current senior residents, and perhaps new residents, to have an affordable, welcoming, vibrant place to live.”

Mobile home residents are being represented in the matter by staff attorney Matthew Warren with the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley.

“The Winchester Ranch Senior Homeowners Association has been negotiating collaboratively with Pulte Homes with the goal of mitigating the impacts of the potential closure of the park on current residents,” Warren said. “Our goals are to ensure fair compensation and to prevent the seniors who live in the park from being displaced from our community. We hope to have an agreement in place soon.”

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