March 12, 2020

Election Updates: Measure E, SJ Mayor’s Budget Message, and other housing-related Measures


Measure E

It’s been over a week since Election Day, and with 90% of ballots counted, Measure E continues to hold steady with 53% of the vote! This is a big victory for affordable housing and homelessness prevention in San Jose. We can’t thank our coalition partners, campaign contributors, and individual supporters enough for their faith and support these past few weeks. We are planning a community celebration during Affordable Housing Week in May so stay tuned for a save the date!

The Mayor’s March Budget Message released on Friday included recommendations for the allocation of Measure E funds, which are expected to begin being collected in July. (see more below). The Mayor’s recommendations follow the initial spending plan approved by the City Council in December that allocate Measure E funding as follows:

  • 45 percent for extremely low-income households (below 30% of area median income)
  • 35 percent for very low-income (VLI) and low-income (LI) households (30-80% of AMI)
  • About 10 percent for moderate-income households (80-120% of AMI) and below-market rate housing
  • 10 percent for homeless prevention activities

San José Mayor’s Budget Message

These are difficult times to forecast, and the Mayor’s Budget Message initially focuses appropriately on the City’s response to the coronavirus.  Affordable Housing and Homelessness Solutions funded by Measure E were identified as the second of three priority areas, and spoke to the real impact that the measure’s passage will have on the City’s ability to act. Measure E was a big push for SV@Home over the last months, and we were grateful to be acknowledged by the Mayor for our role.

The message included a number of actions of interest to the housing community. Highlights include:

Measure E— As detailed in the message, most of the new funding from Measure E will be used to expand current resources for developing affordable housing. But the Mayor identified a number of immediate priorities. These included: identifying sites for additional Bridge Housing Communities (small home communities for the homeless), immediate ramping up of public and private investment in homelessness prevention, new programs aimed at homeless students, additional investment in policies and programs to promote accessory dwelling units (ADUs), and continued work on establishing a navigation center for people experiencing homelessness in the City.

New Development Services Action Team—The Mayor is proposing the creation of a new Development Services Action Team led by a new Deputy City Manager who will provide coordination and oversight of the development decisions made by the following departments—Planning and Building, Fire, and Public Works (and occasionally Environmental Services, Parks, Transportation, and Housing). According to the memo, this will ensure that there is a single person responsible for change management, trouble-shooting, and meeting “clear outcome-focused metrics across all of the development services departments.“ The Mayor recommends that this program be intitially directed to future interim and permanent supportive housing sites. Additionally, the Mayor recommends that the City Attorney and City Manager return in the Spring with recommendations on whether and how the city can provide a geographic preference of homeless and lower-income households in a new City-funded development.

Commercial Space in Affordable Housing Development—The memo recommends that city departments, housing developers, and financing partners convene to develop a plan for alternative funding and financing that would cover the cost of ground floor active uses in affordable housing developments, which could include neighborhood services such as child care, laundry, and gyms. Affordable housing funding cannot be used to develop commercial space, so this has been a considerable challenge our development community.

The Council will discuss the Mayor’s Budget Message at its meeting on March 17th.

Other Election News

Measure E was not the only housing-related measure on the ballot. Here is information about some of the other important ballot measures impacting housing County-wide:

Measures G and HMeasures G and H asked voters to support increased funding for the Foothill-De-Anza Community College District. The good news is that Measure G, which will provide an estimated $898 million for needed infrastructure projects, met the required General Obligation bond 55% vote threshold for a school bond measure. The District estimates that as much as $300 million of these funds could be used to finance the development of housing for staff and faculty. Unfortunately, Measure H required a supermajority of the vote (66.7%), and with only 62% support in the latest count, did not pass. Measure H funds would have, among other things, funded housing assistance for students and other support in response to homelessness and food insecurity.

Measure J— Measure J asked voters to approve a $60 million bond measure that would have financed teacher/faculty housing opportunities in the Eastside Union High School District. Unfortunately, the measure only received 52% support, falling short of the 55% majority required for school bond measures. This followed a pattern that we saw throughout the State, with the State’s Proposition 13 falling with less than 50% approval and 70% of local K-12 school bond measures failing or too close to call in early results. Compare this with the 2018 midterm elections, where voters approve 80% of the 105 measures that appeared on local ballots.

Measure D— Mountain View voters overwhelmingly rejected, by a 2-1 margin, Measure D, which would have loosened some elements of the city’s rent control program. Measure D emerged from months of City Council-led community discussions with the goal of tweaking the program to head off a California Apartment Association-backed measure originally destined for the November 2020 ballot. Designed as a compromise between the CAA measure, which tenant activists contend would effectively gut rent control city-wide, and the current law, Measure D was still opposed by tenant advocates who pointed out the measure could lead to rent increases above the current allowable levels. It remains to be seen whether the CAA-backed measure will still be brought forward to the November ballot.