Welcome to SV@Home’s Policy Rundown, your need-to-know overview of important housing policy actions and developments from the past two weeks.

Major Housing Victories in Sunnyvale and Mountain View Last Week!

In case you missed it, check out our celebration of two major housing successes last week that SV@Home contributed to:

The Sunnyvale City Council unanimously approved an additional over 3,600 new homes (for a total of nearly 6,000!) at the Lawrence Caltrain Station, a major investment in a transit-oriented future!

The Mountain View City Council approved the extension of rent stabilization benefits to residents of mobilehomes city-wide, a huge win for mobilehome tenants who have long been striving for these critical protections!

Thank you to the Sunnyvale and Mountain View City Councils for being our housing heroes last week!

Palo Alto Rejects Housing-Rich North Ventura, Opts for Low Density, Infeasible Plan near Caltrain

On Tuesday, following a multi-year process that involved significant community engagement and expert analyses, the Palo Alto City Council overwhelmingly rejected a housing-rich vision for the North Ventura neighborhood, instead moving forward with the lowest density options, which were deemed infeasible by economic consultants. This is a disappointing result and a major missed opportunity for the city to have prioritized transit-oriented development and the creation of key community benefits, including more deed-restricted affordable housing and open space.

Despite a clear community desire for more deed-restricted affordable housing and open space in North Ventura, the major development restrictions advanced by the Council are most likely to result in either stalled or low-density development proposals, which will mean little to no new land or money available for affordable housing or new parks. The decision will also make it more difficult for the city to create its new Housing Element, since a housing-rich vision for North Ventura would have been a significant factor in helping Palo Alto meet its housing and affordable housing goals.

SV@Home has been a long-time supporter of a housing-rich, community benefit-rich plan for North Ventura. We hope there will be opportunities in the future to reassess this important opportunity area to enable more deed-restricted affordable housing development in Palo Alto.

Eviction Moratorium Set to Expire on September 30th: What Actions Need to be Taken?

On September 30th, the State eviction moratorium will expire, putting those hardest hit by the pandemic at risk of eviction. We face a continued threat of a giant wave of evictions, even as people and organizations around the state are working to get everybody registered for emergency rental assistance. We need a comprehensive set of strategies to prevent this eviction wave.

mask and eviction notice

SV@Home has joined a coalition with organizations like Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative, All Home CA, and Tenants Together to call for Eight Essential Actions to combat the eviction cliff in four categories, they are:

•    Prevent evictions and foreclosures
      1.    Expand Just Cause protections
      2.    Expand debt relief
      3.    Target homeowner relief
•    Educate, inform, and advocate to make rights and relief real
      4.    Fund community education and organizing
      5.    Conduct robust, targeted outreach and communications
•    Prepare our systems to respond
      6.    Fund legal services
      7.    Work with local courts to adjust policies and practices
•    Demand state action
      8.    Pass resolutions urging the State Legislature and Judicial Council to take further actions

Immediate action at the local, state, and federal levels is essential to keep Bay Area residents housed. We remain particularly concerned about public education and outreach as well as the need for legal support and court reforms. Importantly, our coalition acknowledges that we also need additional housing investments, policies, and community protections that encourage an inclusive and just recovery from the health and economic impacts of COVID-19. 

There is a pressing need to spread the word to struggling renters: If you, or someone you know, are behind on rent or getting pressured by your landlord, help is available. Simply applying for rental assistance could save you from eviction. Our recent information sessions with the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley [English – Spanish – Vietnamese], highlighted the key recommendations — the Three “S”s — to prevent unnecessary evictions:

Stay in your home
Submit a declaration of COVID related hardship 
Seek rent assistance. 

For additional information on rental assistance programs in the County, tenants and landlords can go to www.sccrenthelp.org or call 2-1-1. Tenants who receive a notice of eviction should contact the Law Foundation for legal advice and more information about the laws that can protect them. To contact or learn more about the law foundation, go to: www.lawfoundation.org/housing or call (408) 280-2424. 

Mountain View Confronts Anti-Displacement Challenges Anew

Last Tuesday, the Mountain View City Council approved a project at 570 South Rengstorff that would tear down 70 existing rent-controlled apartments to build 85 luxury for-sale row houses. This type of redevelopment, where older and more affordable rental units are replaced by extremely expensive homes for sale, exacerbates the affordable housing crisis in Mountain View by further reducing the stock of homes at lower and moderate rents. While both state laws and recent policy changes in the city have sought to address these losses, this project should stand as a reminder that far more must be done. 

This is about more than a single project. SV@Home believes that redevelopment projects like these highlight the critical need for the upcoming council housing initiatives: R3 District Zoning Update and Housing Displacement Response Strategies

The Rengstorff project, like the Rock Street and Montecito net-loss projects before it, is located in an R3 (multifamily) zoning area. Through the R3 District Zoning Update process, currently underway, the city will have the opportunity to encourage, through incentives and restrictions, higher density infill developments with more opportunities to maintain affordability. 

Along with R3 zoning reforms, we support a more robust Housing Displacement Response Strategy, including an Ellis Act ordinance with replacement provisions similar to SB330 to mitigate the loss of rent controlled units, and enhanced relocation benefits to increase opportunities for displaced households to remain in their communities. 

Mountain View’s elected leaders have long recognized the need for additional tools and policies to prevent the continued loss of naturally more affordable housing units. We believe these changes can be crafted in ways to support growth while furthering the city’s commitment to being both equitable and inclusive. 

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