September 27, 2018

County of Santa Clara: Board Takes Action on Civic Center Master Plan & Housing for Homeless


This week, the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to approve the Civic Center Campus Master Plan and to certify the related Environmental Impact Report (EIR), paving the way for the redevelopment of the 40-acre site.  The plan encompasses the area that currently includes the County office building at 70 W. Hedding, the old San Jose City Hall, and adjacent parcels. This is a large site with significant opportunity for mixed-income development that includes a substantial number of housing units.

The Civic Center Campus is located in San Jose’s North First Street Urban Village, which means that a 100% affordable development could move ahead before the Urban Village plan has been approved by Council.  The City has also set a goal that its Urban Villages include 25% affordablility.

During the meeting, most of the discussion was focused on a private proposal that would renovate the old city hall annex, which has sat vacant since the City moved its headquarters to its current Downtown location, to house 150 + people experiencing homelessness. The staff recommended demolishing the annex due to its advanced state of disrepair and the need for additional parking for County employees. Community activists for the homeless and business owners John Sobrato and Jim Salata, argued in contrast that the building could be saved, that they were willing to invest private money into its rehabilitation and that the county had an obligation to do more to respond to the crisis of homelessness.

After lengthy discussion, the board voted 3-2 to approve the demolition of the old City Hall annex, and to enter into discussions with the City of San Jose about opportunities to build a new permanent building on the site that would provide housing for the homeless.

SV@Home voiced support for housing on the Civic Center site, and pushed for affordable housing to move ahead now given the housing crisis faced by our lower- and moderate-income families.  We also expressed our support for interim housing solutions for the homeless to provide them with appropriate shelter as housing is being secured and new Measure A developments are under construction.