Opponents Meet In Dispute Over Beloved San Jose Garden

Mike Colgan
February 21, 2019 - 3:56 pm

Plans for a San Jose property owner to develop a small shopping plaza have turned into a heated fight as opponents bemoan that it would result in the loss of a popular garden. 

More than 70 residents showed up at a meeting organized by city officials to hear concerns about the proposed retail project, which would raze the Middlebrook Gardens Vegetable Farm. The "eco village" has been in the neighborhood on Race Street for almost 20 years. 

"You hardly have any gardens around here to speak of. It's actually quite shameful," said Judi Braighton, who criticized the retail proposal. "You have an opportunity to keep what we already have. Work on it."

Owner Fred Soltanzad defended his plan to build four shops, including a possible pizzeria. 

"I'm not doing anything illegal. I'm not doing anything against the zoning of my property," said Soltanzad. "Then I think as my right the city definitely needs to approve that project."

Soltanzad expressed a willingness to sell the land, but wouldn't name a price. 

The project conforms with the San Jose's general plan, according to city planner Ruth Cuedo

"I understand the community wants the garden to stay...but that has to do with the property owner and the tenant," said Cuedo. "It's a private transaction at that point that we don't get involved with." 

The proposed project now waits on planning department officials to make a recommendation. That review should be complete in a month or two.