October 3, 2017

Silicon Valley Business Journal: How Mayor Liccardo wants to add 25,000 housing units to San Jose in 5 years


SV@Home Executive Director Leslye Corsiglia recently participated in a press conference with San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, where he announced a plan to build 25,000 new homes in San Jose over five years.

See the original story at Silicon Valley Business Journal.

How Mayor Liccardo wants to add 25,000 housing units to San Jose in 5 years

By Jody Meacham

Saying that how the city responds to the region’s housing crisis “will define our generation,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo rolled out a strategy Monday for adding 25,000 housing units in the city within five years, a timetable that would fit within his second term if he’s reelected in November 2018.

The 15-point plan relies heavily on cutting red tape and getting construction underway before a recession can thwart the effort, and Liccardo said it will have “no direct negative impact on the general fund.”

“I’d like to believe if we’re able to do more, and we’re able to do more quickly, the end result will be a net gain for everyone,” he said at a press conference at the Japantown Senior Apartments, a 75-unit development sitting on a half-acre infill sight on Sixth Street.

Key to achieving the goal is to “double-down downtown,” where about 7,000 units are already in various stages of planning and development but need to be permitted and ground broken to count toward the 25,000-unit goal.

“We’ve got to get shovels in the ground on those projects that are in the pipeline now,” he said. “And we know there are impediments that we need to get out of the way to get those projects moving. A big part of this is simply moving what is being planned.”

Perhaps the most difficult part of the goal is that Liccardo wants 10,000 of the units to be “affordable,” which is a tall order in Silicon Valley, where million-dollar homes are the norm.

“That is really a ‘reach goal,’” said Leslye Corsiglia, executive director of SV@home, an affordable housing advocacy nonprofit who also spoke at the press conference. “It’s hard to get housing approved. It’s harder to get affordable housing approved. And it’s really hard to get housing for the homeless approved. But we need to do all three of those.”

Liccardo highlighted six of the plan’s 15 points, including the downtown double-down, as critical. The other points he focused on are:

  • Adding housing to business districts that need revitalization.
  • Redeveloping “nuisance” properties such as bars and liquor stores into housing that can improve the quality of life in a community.
  • Moving “urban villages” — dense areas of mixed-use development listed in the city’s master plan for 2040 that already have transit — to the front of the line for development
  • Expand affordable housing funding, which has already been aided by Measure A on last November’s ballot and the governor’s signature last week on a major bill pushed by Sen. Jim Beall, with tax increment financing.
  • Identifying opportunities to work with private sector on “financing housing for our missing middle.”

All 15 points were detailed earlier on Monday.

Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino said Liccardo’s plan is significant because of the impact it will have elsewhere coming from the nation’s 10th largest city and one that bears a greater portion of the regional housing burden relative to jobs than many of its neighbors.

“San Jose has already put up while other cities have just shut up,” Guardino said. “San Jose does provide homes at all income levels, even more homes than jobs. We need others to stand up.”