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VTA looks to use eminent domain to acquire downtown San Jose land for BART extension

VTA looks to use eminent domain to acquire downtown San Jose land for BART extension
Photo Credit: VTA
By Wesley Severson - Published on January 07, 2022.

There is movement on BART's extension to San Jose, and eminent domain may soon be at play in a few areas of the city to make way for BART to reach Diridon Station and eventually the city of Santa Clara. The Valley Transit Authority (VTA) could use this special power to acquire the land it needs to construct two underground BART stations and other subway-style infrastructure in the coming years, and the agency is already working to purchase more than 90 properties along Santa Clara Street that would be needed for tunnels and tracks. But there are around 10 parcels, according to the Mercury News, that the VTA is now seeking to acquire through a recently launched lawsuit.

One of the properties where eminent domain could be used is where Monarch Truck Center sits at 195 North 30th Street. Should that happen, the owners of the land would, under the law, be paid fair compensation for the property, but the property owners say the process is unfair. “The deadline that they’ve given us is by December of this year, December 2022, which we think is unreasonable. We are currently in the process of trying to find land, but it’s been a real challenge,” Tony Guetersloh with Monarch Truck Center told KPIX

The business has been at the five-acre site for 30 years, servicing medium-sized delivery and industrial trucks. Those acres are crucial for the creation of what will be the new 28th Street/Little Portugal Station.

“There’s this big pending doom hanging over us," Guetersloh tells KPIX. "We think about it every night. We have a hard time sleeping. What’s the future of our company going to be? Are we going to be around a year from now?” Monarch says is working with a real estate team from the VTA to try to find a new home for the truck center, but Guetersloh says there is not much suitable land available.

According to the Mercury News, there are eight other pieces of land near Monarch, including the sites of Della Maggiore Stone and Tile, that are listed in the lawsuit filed by the VTA. Other properties with addresses 29 and 31 East Santa Clara Street and 41 through 55 West Santa Clara Street are also facing the looming possibility of eminent domain. The land beneath those properties is needed to construct BART's proposed Downtown San Jose Station, at the intersection of First Street and Santa Clara Street.

The VTA says friendly negotiations to buy the land did not work, which forced them into eminent domain proceedings.

And it could end up being the courts that decide on what the VTA must pay for each parcel it acquires. “The fact that we’re at the point of acquiring property is really a demonstration that the VTA and the BART Silicon Valley team are working diligently to bring this public benefit to the people as soon as possible,” VTA spokesperson Bernice Alaniz tells KPIX.