June 11, 2020

Policy Rundown – June 11, 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.

Call to Action for Affordable Housing Funding – Fee on Commercial Development (CLF) in San José

Next Tuesday the San José City Council will consider an action to cap some infrastructure development fees for new construction. The city staff are proposing that Commercial Linkage Fees (CLF) for affordable housing be exempt from this cap.  A CLF is a standard tool for generating affordable housing resources as cities build jobs-generating commercial real estate like new office buildings – commercial developers pay a fee to mitigate a small portion of the need for affordable housing created by new jobs. San José is the only major city in the County without a CLF. After years of study and review, the Council is set to consider adoption of a CLF ordinance on August 25th.

We support the staff recommendation to keep the conversation about an infrastructure fee cap and the action around establishing a CLF ordinance separate and distinct. We are calling on supporters of affordable housing to tune-in on Tuesday and offer testimony about the importance of new resources for affordable housing, and the need for a full hearing on the CLF in August. The item is 8.4 on the agenda, and will not be heard before late afternoon on Tuesday. (Instructions for how to join, track progress, and comment in the virtual meeting can be found at the top of the agenda here.)

Last week we joined with a broad coalition of over 30 local organizations to submit a letter outlining the argument for a robust fee:

  • We faced an affordable housing emergency before this current health and economic crisis, and the need for affordable housing is even greater now as the City moves to recover.
  • New commercial development creates a pressing need for more housing for the new employees.
  • Many workers did not, and will not, get paid enough to afford to live in San José, increasing the need for more affordable housing.
  • Last year the City issued building permits for 3.9 million square feet of commercial development with a potential 11,000 new workers — without collecting fees for affordable housing.
  • A single project just approved for Santana Row in May could have generated between $7.5 and $10 million for critically needed affordable housing in San José.
  • Next year will see major projects coming up for final approval, including the nearly four million square foot City Place, and Google’s eight million square foot project in the Diridon Station Area.
  • The Mayor and Council must support full consideration of the city-wide fee in August.

San José Budget and Measure E

On Tuesday the San José City Council will consider the Mayor’s June Budget Message and vote on the 2020-2021 Budget.  As part of the budget discussion, the Council will review the breakdown of funds anticipated from Measure E,  the real estate transfer tax for affordable housing that was passed by voters in March.  As detailed in the memo from staff, they currently project that Measure E will generate $30 million in funding during the budget year. The funds will be allocated as follows:

  • Program Administration (5%) $ 1,500,000
  • Extremely Low-Income Households (45%)- Total $12,825,000 – including Homeless Student Housing at $115,000 & Extremely Low-Income Households Reserve at $12,710,000
  • Low Income Household Reserve (35%) 9,975,000
  • Moderate Income Household Reserve (10%) $2,850,000
  • Homelessness Prevention Reserve (10%) $2,850,000

SV@Home, with broad support from our partners and allies, is proud to have sponsored Measure E, and is excited that funds are becoming available.  The projected funds will be less than hoped for given the current economic situation, even as we know this is the time when housing need is the greatest. Nonetheless, Measure E will be an essential part of the effort to respond to the complexity of our affordable housing needs in San José.

San José General Plan Review and Station Area Advisory Group Reconvening

Next Wednesday, the Diridon Station Area Advisory Group (SAAG) will reconvene for the first time since January.  You can find the agenda and Zoom information here, all are welcome to attend. The SAAG, and the public, will have an opportunity to provide feedback on some of the City’s most recent analyses and proposals related to the Diridon Station Area Plan (DSAP), which you can find here. SV@Home is happy to share that our hard work to provide data and recommendations to city staff in collaboration with community partners has paid off. While these new city analyses only represent the start of the next phase of public input and discussions, the vast majority of staff recommendations align with SV@Home’s Housing Vision. You can see our latest analysis and position here.

The General Plan Four-Year Review Task Force Meetings will also start up again in June, with its first video meeting scheduled for June 25. The agenda and details of work to date, as well as virtual access information, are now available.  The June meeting will discuss expanding city-wide the Task Force’s recommendation that affordable housing developments in Urban Villages be exempt from cost-prohibitive ground-floor retail requirements.  Future meetings will take up a number of remaining important policies, including: allowing for multi-unit development in areas zoned exclusively for single family homes, and adding significant capacity for additional residential development in the Downtown and Diridon Station areas.  These are critical policy areas that will affect the future of expanded housing opportunities in San José.

Santa Clara County Eviction Moratorium Update

On June 2nd, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors extended the County moratorium on evictions through July 28th, which apply to all jurisdictions in the County. The Board also extended the repayment period for paying back rent after the eviction moratorium expires. Tenants will have 12 months from July 28th to pay back rent, with 50% of the total due within six months. Landlords will also be required to provide notice of tenants’ rights under the ordinance with any repayment plan. As with the previous modifications to the County’s ordinance, if an individual city chooses to pass stronger protections those city-specific rules will supersede the County’s.

The details of the new ordinance and most of the accompanying forms are available on the County’s info page. SV@Home continues to work closely with the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley to provide access to the latest information about the moratorium regulations. For the latest informational videos we have produced, please check out SV@Home’s YouTube channel.

San José Council Approves New Housing at Tamien Station

On Tuesday, the San José City Council approved the SV@Home-endorsed Tamien Station TOD housing development, a collaboration between SV@Home members The Core Companies and the Republic Family of Companies, which will bring over 550 new homes to Tamien Station, including 135 affordable. SV@Home is excited that new, transit-oriented homes will be coming to San José, just down the Caltrain and VTA tracks from Diridon Station and downtown, and applauds VTA’s partnership in leveraging surplus land to bring much-needed affordable homes to the city. There are additional VTA joint development projects underway around the county and we look forward to other exciting affordable TOD projects moving forward.

Sunnyvale: Lawrence Station Study Session

On Tuesday, the Sunnyvale City Council held a study session on updates to the Lawrence Station Area Plan, a key opportunity for transit-oriented housing development along the Caltrain corridor. The Council widely supported increased residential capacity in the Station Area, which would target 5,935 new homes, as well as emphasized the importance of keeping the planning process on schedule to coincide with Caltrain business plan improvements and increased service levels. The City expects the draft Plan updates to be released in July 2020 and anticipates a final vote in November or December 2020.

SV@Home supports Sunnyvale’s long-term vision for housing at Lawrence Station and applauds the City for continuing to move forward with a housing-rich Plan. Stay tuned for opportunities to support the Plan at key decision points later this year and also to support key housing proposals, including some exciting upcoming 100% affordable developments in the Station Area.