Many of us enjoy spending quality time at home with loved ones or catching a quick bite with close friends. As the city life overtakes our lives, the outdoors seems to go underappreciated. Over the fall of 2020, graduate students in SJSU’s Master of Urban Planning program worked collaboratively on a national initiative called Reimagining the Civic Commons. The students chose to focus on the Guadalupe River Park which runs through the heart of Downtown San Jose.
In the first phase, students began by going out to the park to analyze the demographics, host walking tours, research on local policies related to the park, and gather data for future research. Students worked diligently through the wildfires and pandemic to collect data. The community assessment consisted of five data collection methods: third-party data analysis, physical survey, observation mapping, intercept survey, and neighborhood survey. The physical survey, observation mapping, and intercept survey were conducted in-person at the Guadalupe River Park. On October 28th, students presented their findings from the physical survey, intercept survey, and observations to key stakeholders.
The second phase consisted of students synthesizing all of the data collected and distributing to key stakeholders and community groups. On December 9th, students presented all of the data collected over the semester, including the results from the online neighborhood survey of 264 San Jose residents.
Overall, students expressed concern working virtually as data was meant to be collected with door-to-door surveys. However, this project gave students the opportunity to understand the importance of the data collected which would be used to push a national initiative. Residents also had the chance to voice their opinions about local outdoor spaces in San Jose. Community partners learned more about the need for park amenities such as bike parking, water fountains, and wayfinding throughout the trails at the Guadalupe River Park.