San Jose City Council delays vote that threatens 60-year-old Berryessa flea market

San Jose City Council delays vote that threatens 60-year-old Berryessa flea market
Photo Credit: sjfm.com
By Wesley Severson - Published on July 01, 2021.

The San Jose City Council has delayed for another week a decision that would rezone the area where the Berryessa Flea Market has lived for 61 years. In its place will be the 3.4-million-square-foot Berryessa BART Urban Village, which will contain 3,450 homes and a lot of retail space. According to San Jose Spotlight, the council met Tuesday to discuss the village development plan, continued their decision to Wednesday, and then continued for one week more, adding frustration to the project sponsors who say that voluntary concessions made to the flea market vendors might be taken off the table.

The beloved Berryessa Flea Market, known to Spanish speakers as "La Pulga," would be gone in about three years if the development plans move forward as they are. Vendors have been fighting for months to work with the flea market owner to come up with a solution that would make everyone happy, the end result of which was the allocation of a five-acre parcel where vendors could continue to set up on weekends.

Five acres is one-third the original size of the flea market, which will likely leave many of the 400+ vendors with no choice but to find a new place to set up. The development owner has also pledged to give $5 million dollars to a vendor transition fund that will help them with relocation expenses. The San Jose City Council is considering adding $2.5 million more to that fund, according to NBC Bay Area (which incorrectly reported that the rezoning decision was a done deal). 

Vendors had been seeking a $15 million dollar relocation fund along with a 10-acre plot within the village to continue selling their goods but this new agreement falls well short. They also want a five-year lease agreement from the flea market owners, and a guarantee of $28 million if the market is moved to public property before 2026. Still, they ended a hunger strike on Wednesday, calling the council delay a victory.

San Jose Mayor says he is hopeful that his staff and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority can find more space so more of the vendors can stay in that area. He’s hoping there could room around some of the nearby public transit infrastructures that can be utilized to accommodate vendors. ”There could be a substantial possibility that we could accommodate all or nearly all the vendors who want to be there, certainly on the weekend,” Liccardo told Bay City News.

As for the plan to disperse the relocation funds, that will be the job of a flea market advisory group that will be made up of vendors, representatives from the market's owners, and city officials. The city is promising to contact vendors and include them in the planning process and the creation of the advisory group.