February 27, 2020

Campaign for a Commercial Linkage Fees (CLF) in San Jose enters the home stretch


If all goes as planned, the San Jose City Council will vote on a Commercial Linkage Fee (CLF) on April 14th to provide an ongoing source of revenue for affordable housing.  A CLF is a fee charged to developers of non-residential properties– commercial and office space– to help provide affordable housing for the new employees, many of whom won’t be able to afford the high rents in San Jose.  Currently, developers of residential property are already required to provide affordable homes or pay a fee.

CLFs have become a standard tool in a city’s housing toolbox.  San Jose is the last major city in Santa Clara County without a CLF. It has been a contentious issue since 2015, pitting advocates for affordable housing against those concerned that a fee would deter jobs-generating development. Given the amount development activity in San Jose today, these fees have the potential to raise hundreds of millions of dollars over the next 5-10 years.

San Jose’s fee structure is expected to be more complex than any other in the region – with different fees for different parts of the city and for different types of development. The Council has directed that the Feasibility Study include a sensitivity analysis to account for potential changes in market factors in the future.

Getting to a YES vote isn’t going to be easy or simple.  SV@Home has helped lead this effort over the years, and will be recharging the campaign over the coming weeks.

  • Next week, the long-awaited Nexus and Fee Feasibility Studies will be released for comment, and at least one public meeting will be held in March. We will be sharing our analysis and inviting supporters to come out and be heard.
  • Because it will be critical that the City Council hears from us ahead of their vote, we will be launching an on-line letter writing and phone call campaign.
  • And we will be asking supporters of affordable housing to be there to voice support on April 14th.

Whether these fees will be robust enough to put a dent in this increased housing demand will depend on the level of community engagement, and the courage of the City Council to act.