SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - A controversial plan to relocate San Jose's first-ever sanctioned tent village for the homeless was suddenly halted Monday night amid growing neighborhood opposition. City leaders made the announcement that Hope Village would not be coming to San Jose's Willow Glen at what was expected to be a contentious community meeting.
Some 200 residents packed Monday's meeting armed with signs. They were ready to give county and city leaders an earful. Hours prior, water district board members heard from outraged residents and voted not to move forward.
There were cheers from many Willow Glen residents who claimed a small victory Monday night. A proposal to relocate16 homeless individuals from San Jose's Hope Village sanctioned homeless encampment to their neighborhood was shot down.
"We got a pause right, this doesn't have to happen now," said Willow Glen Resident Jennifer Testa.
The city of San Jose and Santa Clara County changed course after hours earlier, dozens of residents spoke against the plan to water district board members.
Hope Village's current location on Ruff Drive has been deemed unsafe since it's too close to the airport. The new location on Lelong and Willow Streets is water district-owned land near Coyote Creek.
"There were so many reasons this wasn't the place," said Testa. "Putting the homeless people in jeopardy in the flood zone, how it impacts the creek, how it impacts the local community."
After hearing from residents about quality-of-life concerns, water board members decided they needed more time.
"We have to help the people who want help," said San Jose Councilwoman Dev Davis. "We have to do what's right even if it's hard."
Davis said she's disappointed given the homeless crisis in Silicon Valley is complex. There's 5,000 unsheltered individuals in the county.
"This won't be last time we will be in this district," said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. "We are going to keep coming back in districts throughout the city. We have to build housing and the alternative is the current state and that's not tolerable."
Willow Glen Resident Vera Sloan disagreed with the water district's decision. She wanted Hope Village in her backyard.
"I don't understand saying not in our creeks," said Sloan. "They are here. They need sanitation. They need safety,"
"I don't want hope village to die," said Hope Village Founder Peter Miron-Conk. "We won't allow them to kill it."
Peter Miron-Conk founded Hope Village and said the hostility from residents was likely more than the stakeholder could handle. He has no idea what will happen come March 30, which is the deadline to relocate Hope Village away from the airport.
"In my heart, I don't think we are going to close," said Miron-Conk. "We are either going to stay where we are or we will move someplace else."