August 20, 2020

Policy Rundown – August 20, 2020


Welcome to SV@Home’s Policy Rundown, your need-to-know overview of important housing policy actions and developments from the past two weeks.

San José Commercial Linkage Fee Update

On Friday, August 20th, San José staff are scheduled to release their recommendations to the City Council on what level of fees should be charged to new commercial development to address the increased need for affordable housing created by jobs-generating growth. Commercial Linkage Fees (CLF) are an essential tool that cities throughout the region use to build more affordable housing to respond to growing demand — new jobs create the need for new affordable homes. On September 1st, the San Jose City Council will vote on both how high fees should be set, and the details of how the program will operate across the city.

Next year San José expects to see over 10 million square feet of new office development, including Google’s project downtown, approved with fees locked in.  These projects, which are likely to be under construction during and after the recovery, will generate a demand for nearly 3,000 new affordable homes. A CLF would generate over $300 million to respond to this need.

This is going to be a real battle, and will require all of us to stand up for affordable housing. If the Council and Mayor fail to act decisively on September 1st, San José will simply not have the resources needed to build homes for these new workers. The human costs will be real.  It’s time to act. Look for a message from us next week that includes more detail and identifies ways you can get involved. (You can track this campaign and find links to all the related documents on our CLF page.)  

Eviction Moratorium Updates

On Tuesday, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted to extend the county’s eviction moratorium through September 30th. They also approved a referral to the County counsel to come back with additional changes to the moratorium. This means that households in Santa Clara County whose health or finances have been impacted by COVID-19 will continue to be shielded from eviction for another month. More information about the county’s moratorium can be found here.

On next Tuesday, the San José and Mountain View City Councils will consider extending their own city-specific eviction moratoria. The City of Santa Clara already took action to extend its eviction moratorium through September 30th. Elsewhere on in the County, Palo Alto’s eviction moratorium will remain in effect for as long as Palo Alto’s declared state of emergency continues. Regardless of the results of the San José and Mountain View votes, households and businesses impacted by COVID-19 will remain protected by the overarching County moratorium. The County ordinance will apply to all 15 cities in the County and the County unincorporated area. However, for those cities that have taken separate action and where the local ordinances are stronger, the stronger provisions prevail.

At the State level, the Judicial Council of California voted on August 13th to end its statewide suspension of evictions as of September 1st. The Judicial Council’s ruling had applied to all households, not just those directly impacted by COVID-19. The end of the statewide moratorium means the task of finding a solution to the problem of unpaid rent falls to the State legislature or the governor. Two bills that would respond to the pending eviction crisis– AB 1436 and SB 1410—  are moving through the Legislature. It is expected that the bills will be consolidated into a comprehensive response. A coalition of progressive groups has called on Governor Newsom to suspend evictions statewide to respond to immediate needs.

Sunnyvale Holds First Moffett Park Study Session

Last week, the Sunnyvale City Council held its first study session on proposed updates to the Moffett Park Specific Plan. Encompassing nearly 1200 acres in northern Sunnyvale along the shore of the Bay, the area’s current uses are exclusively office and industrial, with nearly a third of the area serving as surface parking lots. Sunnyvale staff, at the direction of the City Council, are exploring opportunities to increase the potential for jobs and housing while pursuing environmental resilience and restoration strategies. Importantly, Moffett Park is also located along the VTA light rail line so improving access to transit and connectivity to other redeveloping areas along the line is key to the city’s approach.

SV@Home is a strong supporter of the city’s process for reimagining Moffett Park as an “Eco-Innovation District” that pursues transit-oriented development to create more housing and affordable housing opportunities while giving residents access to jobs and a dynamic new neighborhood, all while taking the necessary measures to increase environmental resilience and mitigate the impacts of sea level rise. Before the Study Session, we submitted a letter supporting the city’s approach and calling for the prioritization of housing for people of all incomes and abilities.

We also have called on the city to ensure that issues of housing affordability and equity are considered on the same level as environmental concerns. These issues are inextricably linked as the neighborhoods directly adjacent to Moffett Park include a high proportion of Sunnyvale’s mobilehome residents and are disproportionately where lower-income families and communities of color call home in the city.

SV@Home looks forward to continuing to engage with the city and community members in the development of this Plan to center affordability and equity in all discussions. The next City Council study session is scheduled for September 29th and there will also be a community meeting on the topic of sea level rise and urban ecology on September 1st. For the latest on these public meetings, check out the Moffett Park website.

Stay tuned for opportunities to weigh in and express your support for housing and affordable housing as plans for redeveloping Moffett Park progress.

Sunnyvale releases Draft Housing Strategy

Earlier this month, the City of Sunnyvale released its Draft Housing Strategy, the result of a months-long community and expert engagement process to develop a comprehensive policy approach to the full range of housing issues facing city residents. The Strategy recommends 13 interrelated strategies to address critical housing needs including demand-side affordability issues, supply-side production issues, policies relevant to creating age-friendly housing, and policies affecting the city’s mobilehome parks.

SV@Home is a strong supporter of Sunnyvale’s comprehensive approach and has been deeply involved, alongside our community partners like Liveable Sunnyvale, in providing expert input and feedback to the city as they have developed this plan. We will be expressing our support through an upcoming coalition letter that highlights several already identified areas we would like the city to further prioritize, including mobilehome rent stabilization, creation of new missing-middle housing opportunities, and an overarching anti-displacement policy. Be on the lookout for our letter soon.

We invite everyone, especially Sunnyvale residents, to review the Draft Strategy and provide written public comments by the August 25th deadline. You can learn more about how to do that here. We are also looking forward to the October 13th City Council meeting, when the Council will instruct staff on how to proceed with their proposed strategies. SV@Home and our partners will be there to support Sunnyvale moving forward on housing policies that create more affordability for all.

Sunnyvale City Council approves 793 new homes Downtown

Last week, the Sunnyvale City Council passed enabling amendments to the Downtown Specific Plan and subsequently approved the mixed-use CityLine development, which will bring 793 homes — including 88 homes for very low, low, and moderate incomes — to the downtown core. While this is a lower share of affordable homes than SV@Home typically supports, the developer, STC Venture LLC, achieved an overall higher unit count through the use of the State density bonus, which mandates a specific amount of affordable units. SV@Home officially endorsed the development via our project endorsement process and you can view our coalition statement to Council — co-signed by Greenbelt Alliance, Livable Sunnyvale, and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group — here.

Santa Clara to hold El Camino Real Specific Plan Study Session

Next Tuesday, August 25th, the Santa Clara City Council will hold a study session to receive an update on the status of the El Camino Real Specific Plan. The draft plan was released in May, and this will be the first opportunity for Council engagement and public comment. As many commissions and working groups have suspended meetings during the pandemic, the Community Advisory Committee has not yet had a chance to meet and discuss the plan. SV@Home is happy to participate as a member of the Advisory Committee. For the last two years we have worked with the Santa Clara Community Advocates, a coalition of local organizations and community leaders, to build community support for more housing, more affordable housing, walkability, bikeability, and smart ways to integrate commercial activity into a revitalized El Camino Real.

Cupertino City Council Approves Westport, including new homes and assisted living units

During a prolonged August 18th council meeting that stretched until nearly 5:00 am, the Cupertino City Council unanimously approved the mixed-use Westport Cupertino project proposed by developer KT Urban, bringing 267 housing units — 88 for-sale rowhouses/townhomes, 48 below market rate senior independent living apartments, 131 assisted living units — and 27 memory care units to the city. The plan, which replaces The Oaks Shopping Center across the street from De Anza College and the Cupertino Senior Center, also includes open space and 20,000 square feet of commercial space. Along with Cupertino being under pressure to make some progress towards their RHNA goals, the project met the objective standards put forth by the State Density Bonus Law and the Housing Accountability Act, forcing the Council’s hand on approving the plan after rejecting four previous redevelopment proposals over the past five years.

National Voter Registration Day is coming up!

Mark your calendars because National Voter Registration Day is September 22nd. A nonpartisan civic holiday celebrating our democracy first observed in 2012, it has quickly gained momentum improving voter registration nationwide and resulting in nearly 3 million new registered voters.

The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters is ramping up its pre-election efforts to ensure the health and well-being of poll workers and voters alike. To that end, the Registrar of Voters will continue to implement the Voter’s Choice Act, which expands and extends early voting countywide. During the 2020 Primary Election earlier this year, the Voter’s Choice Act was instrumental in ensuring that voters could make their vote count and their voice heard.

To register to vote and/or learn more about how to vote, visit the County’s Registrar of Voters website.