Welcome to SV@Home’s Policy Rundown, your need-to-know overview of important housing policy actions and developments from the past two weeks.
On May 7th, the Cupertino City Council voted 4-1 to adopt referenda that repeal the Vallco Town Center Specific Plan, General Plan Amendment, and Development Agreement, instead of putting the referenda to a public vote. Though development at Vallco will continue as a separate project approved under SB 35, this Council action undoes the development agreement between the city and Sand Hill Properties, which included additional community benefits and a higher number of homes overall, though fewer affordable units. An FAQ by the city about the referenda is available here and here. SV@Home continues to support the SB35 proposal and is looking forward to the ground breaking for 2,402 new homes, 50% affordable to lower-income households!
In Campbell on May 7th, the city council initiated a General Plan Amendment to allow for new ADU standards to be incorporated into the San Tomas Area Neighborhood Plan. The city is currently finalizing an updated ADU ordinance that may be vulnerable to additional variations and adjustments during the General Plan process. Council elected to allow the San Tomas Area Community Coalition to suggest variations to the ADU ordinance for their area during the General Plan Amendment Process. SV@Home supports all efforts to simplify ADU development for homeowners interested in adding a second unit, and is encouraged that Campbell leaders are looking at revisions to their ordinance.
On May 14th, the Mountain View City Council held a study session on proposed updates to the city’s inclusionary zoning and BMR ordinances. The council was in general agreement on the majority of staff’s recommended updates, including stricter on-site requirements, raising the in-lieu fee levels, and a more flexible approach to required affordability levels. Several items remained up for debate, most notably whether the city should require a higher inclusionary level for townhome and rowhome developments. The council is scheduled to further debate and vote on the proposed updates on June 11th. SV@Home was there to support the staff and Council direction to allow increased flexibility in reaching different levels of affordability as well as efforts to ensure affordable units are built on-site.
The San Jose City Council took a first step towards allowing affordable teacher housing near Santa Clara Caltrain and Santa Clara University on May 14th. Santa Clara University, along with Bellarmine Prep and Cristo Rey High School, is proposing to build 290 units of housing for their employees at 1250 Campbell Avenue, along with a startup accelerator patterned after UC Berkeley’s SkyDeck. At the hearing, numerous teachers from the three schools spoke alongside housing and education advocates to ask the city council to approve the rezoning, despite the opposition of planning staff concerned about availability of industrial job lands. On a 9-1 vote, the council rezoned the formerly light industrial property to allow mixed-use development, setting the stage for the proposal to come back for final approval in the fall.
SV@Home endorsed the development, which includes 15% of the homes set aside as income-restricted affordable units while the remaining units will be rented at a below market rate as a benefit to school staff. Sign on to our petition telling the San Jose City Council to approve this teacher housing in the fall!
On the same day, the San Jose City Council received a report on progress being made to open up the North San Jose development area to an additional 8,000 new homes, a component of the Housing Crisis Workplan that Council adopted last year. A full 20% of these new homes are required to be affordable to lower income households. Unfortunately, an additional 1,200 affordable units still remain to be built from Phase I of the development plan, which dates back to the early 2010s. In total, North San Jose is planned to add 32,000 homes of which 6,400 will be affordable (Staff report and supporting materials can be found here). The final plan will come back to the council in September. SV@Home’s position is strong– North San Jose needs to meet the goal of 20% affordability. We will be working to ensure that subsequent phases– phases 2, 3, and 4– include additional affordability so that at the end of the day 20% of the homes in NSJ are affordable .
On May 20th, the Community and Economic Development Committee of the San Jose City Council received a report from the Housing Department on policy and programs being explored to expand the City’s stock of housing affordable to the “Missing Middle” (Staff memo and supporting documents can be found here). The full council will discuss the issue further at its June 11 meeting. SV@Home’s mission is to provide housing for all. We know that we need to focus on traditional affordable housing, but we also need to provide housing opportunities for those who don’t qualify for income-restricted housing but can’t afford Silicon Valley’s high housing prices. We will continue to work with San Jose and other cities to support creative policies and initiatives that incentivize the development of “missing middle” housing.
On May 21st, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors heard a report on the progress of the East Santa Clara Street Master Plan, a joint planning process with the Santa Clara County Housing Authority. The current plan includes 550-800 housing units and accommodates over 1400 jobs. SV@Home recommended that the County take the opportunity to create significant housing on publicly-owned land through prioritizing housing development in the near term and to consider more than 800 housing units on the site. Supervisors indicated an interest in creating housing opportunities above the 800 proposed, ensuring that the housing built is affordable to a variety of incomes, and working with the City of San Jose to complete a retail study. SV@Home prepared a letter in support of the highest number of affordable homes at this location. We will continue to monitor progress of this plan and other housing opportunities on County-owned land, including the Civic Center Plaza, the Fairgrounds, and Reid Hillview Airport.
Also on May 21st, the Mountain View City Council unanimously approved a development proposal from Fortbay at 777 W Middlefield that replaces an older 208-unit apartment complex with 716 apartments, 144 of them affordable. The standalone 144-unit affordable apartment building will be occupied by teachers and some Mountain View city staff thanks to a partnership between the developer, the Mountain View Whisman School District, and the city. This development earned SV@Home’s endorsement due to the significant affordable housing component, added density, and a generous tenant relocation package that went beyond the city’s requirements including larger relocation payments, frozen rents since March 2017, and a right to return to the new affordable apartments for current low-income tenants.