SAN JOSE, Calif. (BCN) — After months of planning and protesting, San Jose councilmembers approved plans to rezone part of the Berryessa Flea Market to build a new residential and commercial development near transit.
On Tuesday, the City Council unanimously approved the Berryessa BART Urban Village – a 3.4 million square foot plan that would create up to 3,450 homes near the new BART station.
The development shrinks the flea market to five acres – a third of its original size, leaving many of the 430 vendors worried that they will be squeezed out.
The vote, which was scheduled for last week, was delayed after vendors started a 50-hour hunger strike demanding more time for negotiations between the Berryessa Flea Market Vendors Association, the Bumb family which owns the parcel of land on which the flea market sits and the city.
Councilmembers David Cohen, Raul Peralez and Magdalena Carrasco met with vendors and a representative for the Bumb family, Erik Schoennauer, last Friday in an effort to meet some of the vendor demands.
Those negotiations resulted in $5 million from the Bumb family to help vendors with relocation fees – double the offer that was initially proposed.
The plan to disperse the money would be deliberated by a flea market advisory group comprised of vendors, city officials and representatives from the market’s owners, which has not been created yet. Mayor Sam Liccardo also said he met with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority to help identify more space to expand the flea market and accommodate more vendors.
In Liccardo’s recent memo, he also requested the city to find alternatives, like using the space underneath the BART’s elevated tracks on the weekends so vendors have more space and explore the possibility of using American Rescue Fund dollars, taxes from the development of the project and economic development grants to supplement the flea market vendor fund.
“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 said.
Still, the latest agreement falls short of vendor demands, which requested $15 million and a 10-acre plot of land from the Bumb family.
The Berryessa Flea Market Vendor Association also demanded three-year leases for current vendors, that they are given the sole right to represent retailers and rights to all logos, historical records and intellectual property related to the 61-year-old flea market.
Those demands were not met but the Bumb family promised to not evict any vendors before the current flea market closes, to give first choice to move into the new flea market to current vendors and to offer rents comparable to other open-air markets.
The Bumb family will give the first $500,000 to the relocation fund by October and will give an additional $2 million when they issue a one-year eviction notice for vendors to leave the current flea market on or before July 1, 2023. The final $2.5 million will be given out on the current flea market’s last day of operation.
“It really is my hope that these families don’t continue to live paycheck to paycheck, but rather see themselves as investors in their future,” said Carrasco, who represents the district where many of the vendors live. “And the Bumb family, who has been successful, teach and guide them with principles they’ve learned from and impart that wisdom.”
The next steps will include creating the flea market advisory group.
Peralez said the city is “setting up the bare bones today,” and Nanci Klein, the city’s director of economic development assured the council that the city would reach out to vendors and include them in the planning process.