October 15, 2020

Policy Rundown – October 15, 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.

Sunnyvale Adopts Housing Strategy, Moves Forward on Mobilehomes

On Tuesday, the Sunnyvale City Council adopted a comprehensive Housing Strategy that includes dozens of policy items for city staff to pursue and ranks them according to an implementation timeline. Originally prioritized by the Council as a study item in 2017, the Strategy will shape the city’s approach to housing for years to come. While there were a series of recommendations included in the report, the majority of residents in attendance were there to voice concerns about the City’s lack of controls on mobilehome space rents.

Rather than recommend the adoption of a mobilehome rent control ordinance, city staff instead proposed a hybrid approach where mobilehome park owners and tenants would work together to reach a mutually agreed upon solution on rent levels. If no agreement could be reached after six months, the city would begin a study to consider a Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO). After a long debate, the Council reached a compromise position: the city would ask the parties to work together as proposed by staff, but if no resolution was reached within the six-month timeframe the Council would agendize an urgency ordinance to rapidly implement a mobilehome rent stabilization program.

While SV@Home is disappointed that the Council did not agree to move forward now with a mobilehome Rent Stabilization Ordinance, we are excited about the other elements of the adopted Strategy. We joined with Liveable Sunnyvale and Greenbelt Alliance to submit a joint letter expressing our support for the Strategy and our proposed modifications and focus areas, which you can read here.

Overall, we are looking forward to continuing to working closely with the City of Sunnyvale in advancing and implementing the many excellent components of the Housing Strategy. We will be watching closely the process to consider a mobilehome space rent stabilization ordinance and will report back on progress made.


Diridon Station: Google Releases More Downtown West Details

Last week, Google released new information and a number of new official documents related to its Downtown West proposal in the Diridon Station Area. Google also released this video, which provides an overview of the proposal. This is a major step as it triggers the next phase in the community engagement process. The public is encouraged to provide comments and input on the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and the proposed Design Standards & Guidelines document, which are both found at the above link. The City of San José will also be hosting a community engagement meeting on October 19th, which you can RSVP for here.

SV@Home is excited to dig into these latest details about Downtown West. We are glad to see that Google reaffirmed its commitment to achieving at least 25% affordability in the proposal. While this update projects 4,000 new homes, which is lower than our original goal of 5,000 new homes on Google-owned land in the Station Area, the draft EIR is still studying up to 5,900 homes for the project area. There remain several key factors that will influence the amount of housing built on Google’s property and throughout the Station Area more generally.

SV@Home still believes that it is possible to achieve 15,000 new homes in the entire DSAP area and is continuing to work with the City of San José and stakeholders to ensure that housing potential is not constrained. We are also looking forward to receiving more details about the City of San José’s Affordable Housing Implementation Plan for the Station Area, which we anticipate will be released later this month. This Plan will be crucial in defining how the Plan will reach its 25% affordability target, which was already approved by the City Council and has strong support among affordable housing advocates. For more details about SV@Home’s Housing Vision for the Station Area, check out our website here.


ABAG Executive Board Takes Next Step in Setting RHNA Targets

Tonight the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) Executive Board (tune-in here at 6pm) will take the next step in determining the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) for the 9-County Bay Area, which will establish the number of new homes that all 110 jurisdictions in the region will need to plan for over the next RHNA Cycle beginning in 2023. The Board will consider a recommendation to accept the approach endorsed by the Housing Methodology Committee after over a year of review and analysis. The Housing Methodology Committee was established by the Board to study ways of implementing the statutory objectives of the state mandated process, including increasing access to jobs and opportunity for everyone in the region. The staff presentation to the committee can be found here, and the detailed background material can be accessed from here.

Tonight’s action follows the release in June of the Housing Determination, issued by the State’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), for the Bay Area.  The Housing Determination for the next cycle is significantly higher than the last planning cycle, and will see most local obligations more than double. The recommended methodology for allocation to be considered tonight would also result in much higher allocation of lower-income homes allocated to jurisdictions that are rich in high-wage jobs and good schools. View the current draft 2023-2031 allocation, and learn more about RHNA Methodology.

The next step in the process will be a review by HCD of the methodology and preparation of a draft allocation this Winter. Local jurisdictions will then have until next summer to appeal the RHNA allocation for their city. Already a number of jurisdictions throughout Santa Clara County, and around the region have begun to push back on the new obligations, and this is likely to pick-up next Spring as final appeals are being prepared.  Final RHNA allocations will be determined by the end of 2021, and local city and county staff will begin planning for completion of their Housing Element updates due to the state in January 2023. For a detailed description of the process and a full timeline visit SV@Home’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) page on our website.


Board of Supervisors Approves New Inclusionary Housing Ordinance

Last week the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors approved a new inclusionary ordinance, which requires that 16% of homes in new housing developments be set aside for lower-income residents, and establishes fees that can be paid as an alternative to building the units. This action will be particularly important as the County begins to plan for where new affordable housing can be built as part of the next cycle of the State-mandated Housing Element update, which reflects the 2023-2031 Regional Housing Needs Allocations.  Meeting the significantly higher needs numbers will be a challenge all over the region, and it is critical that every jurisdiction has all the tools it needs to respond. SV@Home wrote a letter in support of the inclusionary ordinance, recommending that the County conduct a timely review of the ordinance to coincide with the approval of the County’s Housing Element to ensure that the fee levels proposed are feasible and enable the County to meet its housing goals.


Mountain View Studies Major City-Wide Zoning Updates

Earlier this week, the Mountain View City Council held a study session on the next steps towards updating its city-wide R3 Zoning Code. Most of the city’s current multi-family apartment buildings are included in the R3-zoned areas, which currently have a height limit of 45 feet (usually about 3 stories). Modifications to the R3 zoning regulations could increase the potential for more density, heights, and different housing types. The city is also working to tie these zoning updates into Mountain View’s larger anti-displacement strategy to ensure that proposed redevelopments do not lead to the displacement of low income Mountain View residents. SV@Home submitted a letter with some of our initial comments on the process.

The R3 zoning update process will continue with two public engagement meetings in late October and November, which have yet to be finalized. SV@Home is looking forward to collaborating with the City of Mountain View in shaping how it can use these city-wide zoning changes to unleash the potential for more housing and affordable housing development.