SAN JOSE — San Jose’s mayor has tall ambitions.
Seeking to reshape downtown San Jose’s low-slung skyline of boxy office towers, Mayor Sam Liccardo is eyeing ways to raise the maximum heights of buildings in the city’s urban core.
Much of downtown San Jose lies beneath or near the flight paths of airplanes arriving at, or departing from, San Jose International Airport. As a result, the city’s downtown skyline has a flattened and undistinguished look. Depending on the downtown section where a building might be constructed, city rules place height limits on buildings ranging from roughly 120 feet to 200 feet — which works out to roughly 10 to 16 stories.
“Transforming our downtown skyline and maintaining a world-class international airport each constitute important fundamental long-term economic objectives,” Liccardo wrote in a memo to the City Council, issued this week. “We’ve had to manage conflicts between the two.”
The mayor surmised that new technologies might make it possible for higher buildings to coexist with a busier airport.
“In 2006, the City commissioned an Airport Obstruction Study to determine impacts and heights of high-rise development to airline service, but aircraft technology and the airline mix at the airport have changed considerably over the last decade,” Liccardo’s letter said.
Airport proponents seek to maintain caps on building heights downtown to ensure the airport is attractive to an array of airline carriers, especially those providing international flights.
Downtown boosters, though, urge relaxed building-height limits as a way to help the downtown offer a more…
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