Frequently Asked Questions

regarding the Parkland Dedication Ordinance (PDO)

and Parkland Impact Ordinance (PIO)


What is the PDO (Parkland Dedication Ordinance)?

Requirement of developers of new residential subdivisions to provide land, pay a parkland fee in lieu of land dedication, or both, for the acquisition, development or renovation of neighborhood and community serving parks to serve the new residents of the subdivision(s).  PDO was enacted by the City in 1988 and is consistent with the State’s Quimby Act.


What is the PIO (Parkland Impact Ordinance)?

Enacted in 1992, the PIO applies to new non-subdivided residential projects such as apartment buildings.


What is the Park Trust Fund?

Fees paid in lieu of land dedication are deposited into the Park Trust Fund.  Money in the Park Trust Fund must be expended solely for the acquisition, development or renovation of neighborhood and community serving parks or the neighborhood and community serving elements of regional parks.


What is nexus?

Nexus is established for projects within a ¾ mile radius from the development that generated the fees for neighborhood serving facilities, and two miles for community serving facilities or the neighborhood and community serving elements of regional parks.


How are the fees set?

Park in-lieu fees are currently set at 70% of the 2001 raw land values (undeveloped land) within the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) zones set by the San Jose Board of Realtors.  This is a problem because the amount of funds received from in-lieu fees are insufficient to acquire and develop the land into neighborhood parks.  It’s also a problem because land values have changed at different rates and in different directions within the various MLS zones of the City, so using the 2001 basis year causes disparity.  In some cases, the developer will dedicate land and develop it into a neighborhood park known as turnkey development; the value of the land and its improvements must be equivalent to the parkland obligation.


Service Level Objective

The City of San Jose’s General Plan service level objective is 3.5 acres of neighborhood/community serving parkland per 1000 residents, of which recreational school grounds can count up to 2 acres per 1000.  The current status is 1.2 acres of neighborhood/community serving parkland per 1000 residents; if recreational school grounds are included, the figure increases to 3.1 acres per 1000 residents.


Since the inception of the PDO/PIO, 131 acres have been dedicated to the City and approximately 42 of those acres have been developed.  During the same time period, the City has acquired an additional 22 acres of parkland from non-PDO/PIO sources and has developed 9 of those acres.


Exemptions from PDO/PIO

Residential development projects that are low and very low income are exempt from the PDO/PIO requirements starting January 1, 2006.  No parkland obligation fees are required from these types of residential development.


Residential development projects that have fewer than 51 units are subject to parkland obligation fees only and are not required to dedicate parkland.


Park Trust Fund Reconciliation

City staff has completed an administrative review of the Park Trust Fund since its inception in 1988 to June 30, 2005.  The purpose of the review was to examine allocations, policies and practices.  While the reconciliation did not identify any major discrepancies in the administration of the Fund, it did reveal a need to allocate additional resources to improve recordkeeping, interdepartmental coordination, and the timely disbursement of funds.   Staff’s recommendations and key findings will be presented to the City Council at their meeting on June 13, 2006.


What can you do?

PDO/PIO is a means to provide funding for desperately needed parkland and amenities for our community.  Park fees are collected every time new housing projects are built.  The City of San Jose requires developers to dedicate land or pay fees (known as in-lieu fees) to acquire or improve parkland.  Unfortunately it has been many years since the fees have been adjusted to reflect current land values.  That means every time a new development is built, the funding for our parks is shorted.  This diminishes the City’s ability to keep up with park service level objectives.


Contact your Council member and express your support for aligning the parkland fees to reflect 100% of current land values and not the outdated values from 2001.  We also need to utilize the most recent census data, instead of the 1990 census data, as required by state law (Quimby Act). This will be of enormous help to the Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood Services Department as they set about to acquire and develop new parks and recreational amenities.


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