San Jose

San Jose to Donate 20 Surplus Cars to Flood Victims

San Jose officials announced Tuesday that the city will donate up to 20 cars to people whose vehicles were severely damaged after being submerged in water when Coyote Creek flooded in February.

The City Council approved a recommendation to contribute cars that are surplus from various city departments, including police. The vehicles in question are mostly out-of-service sedans – Chevy Impalas, Ford Crown Victorias and Tauruses, and more. More vehicles will be donated to flood victims in the future, officials said.

Property owner Kim Nguyen said all 28 of her tenants either lost their cars to the floods.

"Most of my tenants, they [are] very poor, low-income people and when they lost their cars, it's very difficult for them because they cannot go to work," Nguyen said.  

The cars will be given to Goodwill of Silicon Valley, the organization that is working directly with the victims so that they can travel to work more easily. At least five are ready for donation while the remaining 15 will be available in the next two months, officials say.

“With more than 400 folks who need cars, we’re doing everything we can to bring the community together, to see how we can get cars and trucks back in the hands of families that need them,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo.

City officials also announced a comprehensive car donation program, which includes the Silicon Valley Auto Dealership Association and Catholic charities. Local dealerships will give discounted rates on used cars to about 300 families affected by the floods, officials said.

San Jose leaders also took on a complaint voiced by many landlords: that the city needs a faster inspection process to allow residents back into their homes.

Property owner Chris Constantin on Tuesday applauded the car initiative, but said many flood victims still need a place to live.  To get people back into their homes faster, owners still need more city inspectors on site, he said.

He suggested stationing city inspectors at specific locations or neighborhoods so landlords can approach them with requests. That would help them to make appointments, Constantain said, so the inspectors can return, have a look at the homes, and sign off.

"So we opened up Saturday inspections to ... help folks out," Liccardo said.

Many landlords said they were surprised to hear about the weekend inspections, but plan to take advantage of the new schedule.

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