Welcome to our Policy Rundown, a recap of the need-to-know policy decisions impacting housing over the past two weeks across Santa Clara County.

This regular newsletter feature is your go-to policy recap highlighting the most important decisions made, with links to further information so you’re able to dig in to the details, supporting documents, and relevant news article links. Without further ado, here’s a quick review of major housing policy decisions and actions from the past two weeks:

Earlier this week, the Mountain View City Council held a Study Session on the public draft of the East Whisman Precise Plan, which aims for a goal of 5000 new homes, 20% of them affordable.The public draft includes an innovative jobs-housing linkage mechanism which aims to tie new office development to corresponding residential development. After further staff work, East Whisman is scheduled to return to council for another study session on June 25th. SV@Home looks forward to working with city council, city staff, and landowners to get to the goal of 5000 homes, 1000 of them affordable.

In Milpitas, the City Council considered an urgency ordinance regarding a package of proposed tenant protections. After hours of public comment and a lengthy deliberation, the motion failed. The Council instead voted to form a housing sub-committee to further address housing issues. (See Mercury News story here).

On the same evening, the Milpitas City Council unanimously approved a $6.5 million development loan for a 100% affordable project at 355 Sango Court that will include permanent supportive housing for members of our community who have recently experienced homelessness. SV@Home is excited to support this critical development along with our partners Destination:Home.

In Mountain View, the City Council prioritized a number of important housing policy items for the city’s 2019-21 workplans. Councilmembers unanimously supported studying a suite of anti-displacement policy tools to preserve naturally existing affordable housing and provide protections to vulnerable community members. The Council also put forward a number of ideas to produce additional affordable housing in the city, including through updates to zoning codes, new precise plans, and developing new strategies to support missing-middle housing. For an overview of which items the Council prioritized, check out Councilmember Lucas Ramirez’s unofficial, factual list.

The Mountain View City Council also approved two new housing developments, including Palo Alto Housing’s proposed 71-unit, 100% affordable apartment building at 950 W El Camino Real. Of these new homes, 15 will be set aside for independent living for adults with developmental disabilities. SV@Home was proud to endorse and support this development alongside Housing Choices and numerous community advocates who lent their critical support by writing letters and speaking at the hearing.

The Mountain View Planning Commission also took a major housing decision, voting 7-0 to recommend the approval of Fortbay’s proposed 777 W Middlefield development. If approved by the Council on May 21st, it will bring 716 new homes to the city and, through an innovative partnership with the Mountain View Whisman School District and the city, 144 of these new homes will be targeted for teachers and city employees with low and moderate incomes.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved a community outreach and affordable housing plan for the underutilized Civic Center Campus (details here). The approved approach would explore opportunities to develop permanent supportive housing on a portion of the campus as soon as possible, and integrate planning for additional residential opportunities into San Jose’s North First Street Urban Village Planning process, which is set to start in June 2019. In keeping with their strong commitment to maximizing the opportunities afforded by publicly owned land, the Supervisors agreed to consider “County employment growth, residential phasing and, positive contributions to alleviate economic disparities and the housing crisis that disproportionately affects lower income households.”

In San Jose, the City Council received a report on public subsidy provided to residential developments through the pipeline and downtown exemptions from the Affordable Housing Impact Fee (AHIF) and the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance (IHO) (report here).  The report, which is required in San Jose for any public subsidy of over $1 million, showed that 7,477 market rate apartments, including all 3,240 of the newer apartments built in the downtown, were exempted from paying a total of $128.5 million in fees.  While it is standard practice to waive fees for some portion of the pre-existing development pipeline when imposing new fees for affordable housing, the uncollected fees in San Jose are equivalent to the development of 1000 new affordable housing units.

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