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Expectations will run high at Thursday evening’s Diridon Station Area Advisory Group meeting, where Google will release details about its hotly anticipated San Jose campus. Google’s interest and investments have given new life to the city’s Diridon Station Area Plan, providing the impetus for a vibrant, mixed-use Station Area that takes full advantage of a bustling transit hub in close proximity to jobs.
San Jose officials are right to celebrate this growth and the positive change it will bring to downtown, but the increase in jobs must be matched with homes for those new employees, along with policies and programs that preserve existing affordable housing and protect current residents.
SV@Home’s housing vision includes recommendations for city leaders to ensure that housing is a key component in the Diridon Station Area and the greater downtown.
- Plan for at least 10,000 new homes in Diridon. The existing plan for the Station Area limits housing capacity to 2,588 homes, which doesn’t come close to the need or take advantage of the opportunity unlocked by the increase in height limits. Google’s land holdings are only one piece of a much larger 240-acre Diridon Area. Some uses in the plan area — like the SAP Center and the station itself — will remain, but there are opportunities for development on land that Google won’t own. In fact, more than 1,800 new homes are now in the planning or construction stages.
- Of these new homes, at least 25% must be deed-restricted affordable. Many of the jobs envisioned in the downtown will be for service, retail, and administrative employees. New residential development must include homes these workers can afford.
- Pursue equitable development, including significant efforts to preserve affordable housing and address displacement. Beyond compensation and relocation assistance for those directly displaced by new development, plans must include effective responses to the impact of gentrification and displacement.
- Work with transit agencies to ensure that the design and alignment of the transit station doesn’t limit the amount of land that could be used for housing. The city and its transit partners must agree on a station alignment plan that ensures the greatest development potential to ensure that housing is a prominent land use.
- Proactively rezone land at other transit stations to allow for housing. There is insufficient land in the downtown area to build enough housing to account for the area’s massive job growth, but homes can be built on and within one-half mile of transit stations to allow residents easy access to downtown jobs.
- Quickly adopt a Commercial Linkage Fee that provides the funding needed to build affordable homes to accommodate employment growth. The city does not have an ongoing revenue for affordable housing and is currently studying the potential for this new source.
Solving the South Bay’s housing crisis shouldn’t rest entirely on Google’s shoulders, and it also isn’t solely San Jose’s problem to address. This is a regional housing crisis. All cities must plan for new housing, particularly in Northern Santa Clara County where jobs were added over the years without plans for where new employees would live.
Diridon provides us with the opportunity to show how this can be done right– how cities, when planning for significant job growth, can thoughtfully plan for housing. We must double down to make this vision a reality.
Leslye Corsiglia is the executive director of SV@Home.