New Addition to the SV@Home Team and Many More Housing Happenings!
July 1, 2022
SV Housing Happenings
Silicon Valley at Home Welcomes Sergio Lopez as its New Director of Development
SV@Home is thrilled to introduce Sergio Lopez, a nationally recognized leader in housing, as its new Director of Development. Lopez is currently a Councilmember for the City of Campbell, and he has longtime roots in the community and a lifelong commitment to community service.
His service reflects a broad range of involvement from the local government to the White House, and he is a nationally-recognized leader on housing policy. He is also a Member of the Board of Directors for the Bay Area Air Management District and Vice-Chair of the Valley Transportation Authority Policy Advisory Committee.
A historian and author, he has served on the Board of Directors of the Campbell Historical Museum Foundation. His writing and thought leadership has been published in TIME, Teen Vogue, America, Sojourners, National Catholic Reporter, and many more. He is also a monthly columnist for the Campbell Press.
Lopez is a proud child of immigrants and was the first in his family to graduate college. He attended Yale University as a Questbridge Scholar, received his M.A. at Duke Divinity School, and studied at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.
So why did Sergio choose to join the SV@Home team?
“My work has always been rooted in community, which is why I’m so thrilled to join the leaders at SV@Home as they help shape the conversation on public policy and housing justice in the Bay Area.”
David Meyer serves as SV@Home’s Director of Strategic Initiatives.
After spending over four wonderful years as a member of the SV@Home team, tomorrow, July 1st, will be my last day. Given how much the organization has accomplished during this time, I wanted to reflect on just a few of the most important housing victories I was part of and share some of the lessons I learned.
Vallco Goes from Dead Mall to Exciting Mixed-Use Development: In 2018, following years of community conversations and a number of failed efforts (including two competing ballot measures on the November 2016 ballot), the Council and City of Cupertino approved two paths forward for the redevelopment of the dilapidated Vallco Mall: 1) via streamlining legislation (Senate Bill 35); or 2) via a City-approved specific plan.
This was my first taste of community engagement and the struggle to advance affordable housing in Silicon Valley. I attended countless meetings and workshops that all shaped the City Council’s adoption of a specific plan developed in partnership with the community. I saw passionate community members work around the clock to envision a housing-rich future for their city. And, I learned what political courage meant: A divided city council taking a hard vote in the face of threats from extreme community members. Thank you to Barry Chang, Rod Sinks, and Savita Vaidhyanathan for standing up for housing.
And even though the next City Council would throw away those months of hard work in the vain hope of stopping any change in Cupertino, the community advocates and brave elected officials made their mark.
Years later, Vallco’s redevelopment has been rechristened The Rise and continues to move forward, despite layers of ongoing roadblocks and opposition. I am looking forward to the 2,402 new homes, 50% (1,201) deed-restricted affordable, increasing access to housing in Cupertino.
Santa Clara County Creates New Funds to House People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Measure A’s passage in 2016 ushered in an exciting era of affordable housing development across the County, with thousands of new homes now either under development or in rehabilitation to help some of our most vulnerable neighbors. When I started my SV@Home journey in 2018, however, there were already some rumblings of discontent among organizations that served different vulnerable groups across our community. There was a classic challenge: there are so many other people in Santa Clara County who need affordable housing, but only so many resources to go around, even at a time of seeming abundance.
I remember being approached by Jan Stokley, then Executive Director of Housing Choices, with her problem: hundreds of adults and soon-to-be adults with developmental disabilities who lived or wanted to live independently could not because there was a severe shortage of housing opportunities that combined deep affordability and access to services many of them needed. And as Santa Clara County launched its significant effort to end homelessness through Measure A, there was a new competition for resources.
What happens when everyone wants a piece of a rapidly shrinking pie meant to serve our most vulnerable community members? You make the pie bigger.
With Jan and Housing Choices leading the charge, we took this challenge to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. We found a champion in Supervisor Joe Simitian, who pushed for a County set-aside fund to specifically support housing for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In 2019, the Board of Supervisors voted to instruct staff to allocate $40 million over four years ($10 million per year) to support IDD housing developments. This money has already been put to work, supporting developments across the County and showing that we are capable of finding ways to help all members of our community without fighting over resources. This is how we all win.
Diridon Station Charts a New Housing-Rich Future for San José: After starting at SV@Home, I heard rumors of an already long-running group of San José community members engaged in discussing the future of Diridon Station: The Station Area Advisory Group or (sometimes more aptly) the SAAG. Before long, I was a part of this community-based advisory body representing the interests of affordable housing advocates. The SAAG embodied the best aspects of and greatest challenges to effective community engagement. While unwieldy in size, it served as a critical venue for raising concerns about future development at Diridon and proposing potential solutions. When COVID-19 turned our world upside down, the SAAG was one of the first community engagement processes to revive virtually and continue its important work.
All of this group’s work was targeted at one major City Council meeting and a handful of critical decisions: 1) What would the City’s overall plan be for the Diridon Station Area; and 2) How would the City respond to Google’s proposed major redevelopments within that area?
Working in collaboration with community advocates from across the issue spectrum, the team at Google and the City’s planning staff, SV@Home played a lead role in shaping what would become a housing-rich, affordable housing-centered Diridon Station Area Plan and Downtown West, Google’s proposed mixed-use development. We took a special interest in ensuring that the Plan for the entire Station Area reflected the City’s housing goals and that Google’s affordable housing commitments could be achieved. At the same time, some of our partner organizations succeeded in securing a $154.8 million Community Stabilization Fund, which will help counter displacement pressures city-wide.
The Council’s unanimous votes in 2021 capped these years of advocacy, laying out a Diridon Station Area Plan with the capacity for 13,519 new homes and a requirement that 25% of them be affordable. They also approved Google’s Downtown West proposal, which will build 4,000 of those new homes, 1,000 of them deed-restricted affordable. And while there are still years of work ahead of us to ensure that these goals are fully achieved, I am incredibly proud of all the teamwork that went into these achievements. To me, they represent not only an exciting and more equitable future for San José but what it is possible to accomplish through partnerships that stretch across all stakeholder groups.
It has been an honor and a privilege to work with so many people committed to helping everyone in Silicon Valley achieve a safe, stable, and affordable home. I know the scrappy SV@Home team will continue their awesome work as we continue to face challenges old and new.
Until next time -David
Record Size State Budget Offers Significant
Housing Wins and Surplus Disappointments
On Tuesday, Governor Newsom signed into law the FY 2023 State budget and related trailer bills. The budget was hammered out in the final days to reach a compromise between the Governor, the Assembly, and the Senate, each of which had differing priorities. The Governor was focused on ending homelessness and pressed for significant funding for interim and temporary solutions as well as his CARE Court proposal, which creates a new process that mandates treatment for people with severe mental illness, many of whom are unhoused. The Assembly was focused on the preservation and supply of rental housing, seeking to fund existing housing programs that could quickly provide new homes. And the Senate focused on homeownership, the most common tool for building wealth in this county and something that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color have been systemically excluded from accessing. The budget includes funding for all of these priorities.
The $300 billion budget is the largest in state history and was buoyed by a $97.5 million surplus from increases in capital gains realized as the State pulled out of the pandemic. Because so much of the funding is dependent on the state of the economy, 90% of all surplus fund expenditures are one-time.
Affordable housing advocates are happy to see significant funding for housing programs but, at the same time, are disappointed that the amount of surplus funding going to key housing programs is less than expected. Housing affordability and ending homelessness continue to be the top priorities for the State’s residents, and with this unprecedented budget, many of us hoped that housing could receive a larger piece of the pie. Here are some of the highlights:
Additionally, there was funding appropriated to several new programs, including $410 million to provide incentive grants for the adaptive reuse of non-residential buildings for affordable homes, $500 million to seed a new California Dream for All Program that will provide equity share loans to help first-time homebuyers with a down payment, $250 million in grant funding to retrofit multifamily housing seismically, and $100 million to create more affordable homes on State excess sites. In current legislation or budget trailer bills, many of these new programs will be finalized in the coming weeks. Although the budget includes over $3 billion for programs serving the unhoused, advocates hoped for a better balance between interim solutions and permanent housing. Some of the highlights:
Also hidden in the budget bill are several direct appropriations for specific Santa Clara County projects:
The Legislature will be on recess for July and will return to finalize details of the many appropriations. SV@Home will be on top of what’s happening and will keep you informed of key bills as the of legislature details the new programs.
ICYMI: June PIA Explores MTC’s Transit-Oriented Communities Policy and How it Could Bring
Affordable Housing to Silicon Valley
SV@Home’s June Policy in Action program featured a lively discussion on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Draft Transit-Oriented Communities Policy and how it could promote more affordable housing development within a half-mile of transit centers. Here are five takeaways you can explore when you review the June PIA:
Next Steps: The draft policy will go before the Joint MTC Planning/ABAG Committee on July 8, and if approved, the MTC is scheduled for adoption on July 27th;
Action: At any time before the above date contact SV@Home’s coalition partners, Amiel Leaño Atanacio and Erika Pinto to join our movement to strengthen the TOC Policy. You may also tell MTC Commissioners what you think are the most important elements of this policy. We also encourage folks to participate in the July 8 and July 27 MTC hearings and provide their public testimony. You can also contact Kara Vuicich with MTC for questions on the current Draft TOC Policy at any time.
Support: SV@Home and its partners outlined a set of guiding principles for the TOC Policy to advance affordable housing, equity, and environmental goals. Read more here.
Watch: Our panelists from MTC, Enterprise Community Partners and SPUR ask crucial questions about the draft TOC such as: Will the proposed housing densities make a dent in Silicon Valley’s affordable housing needs? Are parking requirements conducive to build affordable housing? What funding will be available to entice adoption of TOC policies for Silicon Valley governments?
July Policy in Action: Engaging with
HCD’s Housing Elements Review Process
Join SV@Home for the July Policy in Action to learn more about the critical role local housing advocates play in HCD’s Housing Element review process: making sure Housing Elements are prepared to produce more housing effectively, preserve existing affordable housing, and protect vulnerable residents!
Investing in the development of the next generation of housing leaders is an important part of SV@Home’s work. This spring, SV@Home Director of Policy, Mathew Reed and Policy and Research Senior Associate Alison Cingolani partnered with undergraduate students at Stanford for a pair of research projects on current housing topics. Students in Dr. Michael Kahan’s “Gentrification” Urban Studies course worked on projects with several Bay Area organizations engaged in fighting gentrification and mitigating its impact. Mathew mentored a team of students researching recent narratives of opposition to Project Homekey developments. Alison mentored a group examining how cities around California are implementing the recently passed duplex and lot-split bill, SB 9. The student teams presented their research findings and wrote reports valuable to the policy and advocacy communities. Mathew’s team also hosted an event presenting their research for Affordable Housing Month. You can find the resulting reports from the students’ research at the above links.
Quetzal Gardens Grand Opening Features 71 Affordable Apartments for Families
Wednesday, June 29th, SV@Home was thrilled to help celebrate the Grand Opening of Quetzal Gardens! Designed by SGPA Architecture and Planning and built by nonprofit developer Resources for Community Development (RCD), Quetzal Gardens is a 100% affordable housing development with 71 apartments in the Little Portugal Urban Village and the Mayfair neighborhood of East San Jose. The new homes are reserved for low-income individuals and families, and 28 units are set aside as permanent service-enriched supportive housing for formerly homeless households.
The gorgeous mixed-use building provides 7,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor for community-serving tenants, including the local nonprofit SOMOS Mayfair. Amenities in the building include on-site resident services, a central courtyard with seating areas, landscaping, a children’s play area, and green design and construction, and the building beautifully complements the nearby Mexican Heritage Plaza. RCD engaged deeply with the community throughout a planning process that was collaborative, participatory, and responsive to community needs and desires. Quetzal Gardens represents a meaningful investment in a vibrant San Jose community.
#MembershipMatters – Become a Member Today!
Become a member today to help us hold cities accountable to building their share of affordable housing.
your need-to-know overview of important housing policy actions and developments from
the past two weeks
San José Council Unanimously Approves El Paseo de Saratoga Proposal
Last Tuesday, the San José City Council unanimously approved Sandhill Property Company’s mixed-use El Paseo de Saratoga proposal, which will create 994 new homes, 149 of them affordable. El Paseo is one of the largest residential developments now approved by the City and will anchor the Urban Village plan being developed for the greater area. It will transform the existing shopping center into a true mixed-use space with new retail, open space, and, of course, housing.
SV@Home was proud to speak out in favor of this proposal, and we are looking forward to it continuing to move forward to groundbreaking and construction. It is crucial for the City of San José to continue implementing its Urban Village and Signature Project policies to ensure that much-needed housing is being developed across the city. Importantly, the new deed-restricted affordable homes in this development will give people of different incomes access to all of the great resources of this neighborhood.
Sunnyvale City Council Adopts the El Camino Real Specific Plan with Increased Number of Units
The long-awaited El Camino Real Specific Plan (ECRSP) has finally been adopted by the Sunnyvale City Council Wednesday after years of unforeseen delays due to staff turnover and the COVID-19 pandemic. This planning process began in 2014 and its journey to the finish line has finally ended, or has it?
Our members will be pleased to learn that many of SV@Home’s efforts to increase the number of units in the ECRSP were impactful.
We reduced some of the minimum commercial area requirements for some parcels within the ECRSP corridor. Unfortunately, we also had some losses. After several long and heated debates between a split City Council, we were unable to retain or increase the originally proposed densities throughout the ECRSP corridor, as staff made last-minute recommended changes to reduce them. Nonetheless, we want to thank the “houser” Councilmembers who valiantly fought for our shared vision of an affordable and equitable Sunnyvale. We would also like to thank our partners, including Livable Sunnyvale, the Housing Action Coalition, the Bay Area Council, Greenbelt Alliance, and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, for their advocacy that evening for putting a “W” on the pro-housing scoreboard.
Although we were unable to get all the commitments needed to address our region’s housing challenges in Sunnyvale, there will be more opportunities to positively impact the ECRSP as it is implemented. Given that 684 lower-income units are planned for the ECRP corridor under Sunnyvale’s current draft Housing Element Update recently sent to HCD for review, there is a lot at stake for the city to ensure they meet this target on a project-by-project basis. We will be there every step of the way fighting for a more equitable and accessible Sunnyvale, and as always, we will keep you all posted.
Get Engaged with Your City’s Housing Element Updates with SV@Home’s Toolkit
Six cities in Santa Clara County have released Draft Housing Elements for a 30-day period of public comment! Housing advocates now have a uniquely powerful opportunity to be a part of the process of planning for the homes that will be built over the next eight years. Learn more about what is happening, how SV@Home is engaging, and how you can get involved in your city’s Housing Element process in SV@Home’s Housing Element Toolkit!
HCD Presents: Focus Group Meeting for 2022 California Green Building Standards Code
July 11th 9 a.m.
The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) is providing notice of a virtual focus group meeting on July 11, 2022, to seek feedback on changes to the 2022 California Building Standards Code, part 11, California Green Building Standards (CALGreen) Code. The changes are proposed as part of the 2022 Intervening Code Adoption Cycle and will become effective July 1, 2024, if approved by the California Building Standards Commission.
For more information, visit HCD’s Building Code Development and Adoption webpage. Additionally, documents will be posted to the website prior to the meeting.
Conference call Microsoft Teams:
916.535.0998 Conference ID: 592 182 329#
NPH Presents: Focus Group Meeting 2022 on California Building Code Chapt. 11 (Housing Accessibility)
July 20th at 9:00AM
The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) is providing notice of a virtual focus group meeting on July 20, 2022, to seek feedback on changes to the 2022 California Building Standards Code, part 2, California Building Code, Chapter 11A (housing accessibility). The changes are proposed as part of the 2022 Intervening Code Adoption Cycle and will be effective July 1, 2024, if approved by the California Building Standards Commission.
For more information, visit HCD’s Building Code Development and Adoption webpage. Additionally, documents will be posted to the website prior to the meeting. For questions, or to submit your comments, contact Emily Withers at Emily.Withers@hcd.ca.gov or 916-263-2998.
Conference call- Microsoft Teams
916.535.0998 Conference ID: 698 304 652#
July Policy In Action: Engaging with HCD’s Housing Element Review Process
July 22nd at 12:00PM
Join us to learn more about the critical role housing advocates play in making sure Housing Elements produce more housing, preserve existing affordable housing, and protect vulnerable residents!
SCANPH Presents: Houser Hour with Attorney General Rob Bonta
July 6th at 4:00PM
Attorney General Rob Bonta has been on the forefront of ensuring that cities comply with California’s housing laws. From his creation of the California Housing Strike Force to defending state housing and tenant protection laws from legal challenges, Attorney General Bonta is using his role to help battle California’s housing crisis. Join us to hear about the AG’s. current efforts.
SCANPH Presents: How Local Housing Politics Exacerbate Inequalities and Deter Inclusive Land Use Policies
July 14th at 10:00AM
Who really has a seat at the table when it comes to local political participation in housing and development policy? Professor Katherine Einstein of Boston University is a leading researcher on how local participatory inequalities have major implications for rising housing costs, as her findings show that individuals who are older, male, longtime residents, voters in local elections, and homeowners are significantly more likely to participate in planning and zoning board meetings concerning housing development; furthermore, they overwhelmingly oppose new housing construction.
Join us for an important discussion on the many obstacles preventing the construction of dense and affordable housing. Einstein is one of the authors of Neighborhood Defenders: Participatory Politics and America’s Housing Crisis, which focuses on the intersection of local institutions, such as planning and zoning boards, and the political behavior of the people who actually participate in the housing permitting process.