August 30, 2019

Policy Rundown – August 30th, 2019


Welcome to SV@Home’s Policy Rundown, your need-to-know overview of important housing policy actions and developments from the past two weeks. With city councils returning from their summer breaks, things are heating up on the policy front. Get ready for a whole range of important items and decisions where you can have an impact in the coming weeks and months!

On August 13th, the San Jose City Council nearly unanimously approved the Housing Payment Equality Ordinance. Often referred to as the Section 8 Anti-Discrimination Ordinance, the action now prohibits housing discrimination based on a tenant’s Source of Income (SOI), requiring that all persons with the ability to pay for housing should be treated equally when applying to rent an apartment or home, regardless of whether they receive a housing subsidy or housing assistance of any kind. SV@Home joined with a diverse coalition of local organizations to support the measure (see our joint letter here). This was an important step for San Jose, and staff and council’s commitment to education, outreach, and enforcement bodes well for its future.

Also on August 13th, the San Jose City Council received an update from the County of Santa Clara on plans to close the Reid-Hillview Airport located on the East Side of the City. This was not an action item — the airport is owned and managed by the County – but the council was broadly supportive of the opportunities for much-needed local housing and employment. The airport will not be closed until 2031, providing time for the County and City to coordinate around the challenges and opportunities of future planning. SV@Home has consistently supported the County’s approach to redeveloping the airport to create opportunities for affordable housing.

On August 20th, the Cupertino City Council voted 3-1 (with the Vice Mayor recused and Councilmember Rod Sinks dissenting) to remove all office development capacity from the Vallco Shopping District Special Area. This Mercury News op-ed by Cupertino For All co-chair J.R. Fruen lays out why this action only further undermines the City of Cupertino’s ability to meet its affordable housing goals by making the production of new housing at this key opportunity site infeasible under the current plan. Fortunately, the Vallco Town Center proposal, one of the state’s first SB35 proposals, is continuing to move forward. SV@Home strongly supports the SB35 proposal, which will bring 2,402 new homes, of which 1,201 will be affordable, to Cupertino. We continue urge the Council to take action to expedite the development of this project and to refrain from further actions that undermine the City’s ability to meet its affordable housing obligations under state law.

On August 26th, the City of San Jose rolled out a serious of initiatives intended to spur the development of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in the City. The new measures, intended to streamline approvals and lower costs, include plans for pre-approved models, a designated day for application reviews, dedicated staff to assist interested homeowners through the process, and an online ADU portal to help determine eligibility. The Mayor also announced that a new loan forgiveness program, which would provide up to $20,000 to homeowners interested in renting their ADUs to moderate-income households, would be coming to council for consideration. This was all great news for SV@Home, longtime supporters of ADUs, especially as a moderate-income housing strategy across Santa Clara County.

On August 27th, the Santa Clara City Council voted to push ahead with planning efforts for what is coming to be known as City North, the area around Great America Parkway and Tasman Blvd in Santa Clara. City North has become a focus area for planning high-density, mixed-use, communities. While there are many challenges ahead, the council supported integrated planning for the area, asking staff to keep them updated as the process developed. In an additional item, the council decided to slow down master planning for the Freedom Circle section of the City North area, but to move ahead with a large-scale residential project which will bring much needed housing to the jobs-rich area.