December 19, 2019

Policy Rundown – December 19th, 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 as well as key upcoming items where you can get engaged.

North San Jose Development Area

On December 10th, the San José City Council approved a new direction for the North San José (NSJ) Development Area Policy. Opening up North San José for a new round of residential development was a component of the Housing Crisis Workplan, and is a linchpin of the City’s goal of approving 25,000 new homes, including 10,000 affordable, by 2022. The staff presentation highlighted how the originally planned phasing of residential development in the area is no longer allowed under recent State law (which eliminates a city’s ability to enforce laws that are in effect growth control), and recommended that the current policy be revised to reflect these changes (see the staff memo here).

Central to the discussion were concerns about the best ways to promote non-residential development, and the impact of new vehicle miles traveled (VMT) standards for environmental clearance. In a coordinated proposal introduced through a memo from District 4 Councilmember Diep, staff proposed exploring legal options to constrain residential development within the core mixed-use corridor along the light rail line on N. First Street, which is intended to support 6,000 new homes.

We are very concerned about the idea of further constraining housing development given how the area is already well behind in meeting its affordable housing targets. See our letter here. The NSJ Policy clearly set a goal of 20% affordability, yet only 560 of the first 8,000 homes were affordable to lower- and moderate income households. The Council was clear—both back in 2012 and when the Housing Crisis Workplan was approved in 2018—that the 20% requirement would be enforced. SV@Home will continue to advocate strongly to ensure that the City meets its commitment to affordable housing as the remaining 24,000 homes move forward.

San Jose Equity Study Session

Last week the San José City Council held a historic study session, attended by over 200 community members, on Building a Shared Understanding of Equity Work in the Context of City Government (video available at link) Dr. Stephen J. Pitti, Yale University began by reviewing the history of racial exclusion in San José, talking about personal and institutional bias, noting the central role that city government and local policy has in confronting or perpetuating racial inequity. Leon Andrews, Director of Race, Equity, and Leadership at the National League of Cities dug into why equity matters for cities and the importance of centering the conversation around race in particular. Julie Nelson, Senior VP of Programs, Race Forward; Co-Director of GARE (Government Alliance on Race and Equity) made a strong case for effective national practices to approach institutional and structural racism and how cities can operationalize and approach racial equity. She also focused on data that supports positive outcomes in communities when policies and programs are implemented with a racial equity lens. It was an often emotional session, equally intense public comment period, and what felt at times like an historic Council discussion.  Housing was a central part of the discussion, redlining and discriminatory zoning practices were brought up as illustrative of the racial bias that existed in policy-making from a historical context. The pattern of discriminatory policies and programs by cities and other entities also served as a grounding for discussion. Council decided that they would continue to move this work forward and would host a 2nd follow-up, study session on Monday, January 13th.

Cupertino: AB 1482 Urgency Ordinance

The Cupertino City Council joined Milpitas, Palo Alto, and Sunnyvale this Tuesday when it voted 4-1 to pass an emergency ordinance that protects renters from excessive rent hikes and no-cause evictions. The action is retroactive to October 19th and will be in effect through the end of the year, when AB 1482 kicks in at the State level. SV@Home sent a letter to the council requesting amendments that would provide these retroactive protections, as both data and stories from around the region showed an increase in tenant rent hikes and no-cause eviction after the bill was signed by Governor Newsom in October. See our letter of support here.

Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors Endorses SB50

Also on Tuesday, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to endorse Senator Scott Wiener’s Senate Bill 50, the More HOMES Act! We’re grateful to Supervisor Dave Cortese for bringing SB 50 to the Board for its consideration. We’re also thankful to our coalition partners who signed on to our support letter as well as those who joined us at the Board meeting to speak in favor of SB 50 during public comment. Thanks to California YIMBY, Bay Area Housing Advocacy Coalition, SPUR, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, South Bay YIMBY, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the silicon valley organization, and Liveable Sunnyvale for joining us in this effort.

Join us in thanking Supervisor Dave Cortese, Cindy Chavez, Mike Wasserman, and Susan Ellenberg for their leadership and support of SB 50 by tweeting at them at @DaveCortese @SupCindyChavez @Mike_Wasserman @SusanEllenberg. We hope our State Legislators take note and move SB 50 forward in January. SB 50 is key to a more equitable, affordable, and sustainable California.