East San Jose Residents Want Blighted Caltrans-Owned Property Turned Into Park

A frustrated group of San Jose residents who have been taking on City Hall for years over a piece of Caltrans property they want turned into a park say they've waited long enough.

The residents who live near the abandoned piece of land along South 31st Street, just off of Highway 101, want the property turned into a park.

There used to be homes on the land, but Caltrans took over the property via eminent domain to expand 101 more than a decade ago. People use it as a dumping ground. And the homeless have moved in. Locals NBC Bay Area spoke with said they've had enough of this.

"We're sick and tired of it because nobody needs to come to this neighborhood and see all this trash every day," neighborhood resident Devren Breaux said.

Damian Trujillo/NBC Bay Area
Residents who live near a blighted stretch of Caltrans-owned property along South 31st Street in East San Jose want the land turned into a park.

Breaux's daughter plays in the family's small yard. She's not allowed to wander outside the fence surrounding their home. "We don't let her come out in the street," mom said.

The large piece of land across the street from their home has been this way for years. Three generations of the Breaux family say they've begged the city to clean up the property and turn it into a park, something they say their neighborhood desperately needs.

But nothing's changed. In fact, police were on the property just the other day, questioning some of the homeless and looking for stolen property in a burglary case.

This week, the city said it is listening.

"We're moving forward," San Jose Councilwoman Magdalena Carrasco said. "Sometimes the wheels of progress are a little slow."

Carrasco said the city is hoping to buy the property from Caltrans and turn it into something the residents can use. A park, she said, would be perfect since parks are so few and far between on the East Side.

"If you look at the city as a whole, East San Jose has very few parks that serve its residents," Carrasco said.

Residents on South 31st Street said, until they see the clean-up crews, they'll keep harassing City Hall.

The Caltrans representative in the South Bay was not available to offer comment on the possible sale of this property. Residents hope that sale happens soon.

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