September 27, 2018

San Jose: Commercial Linkage Fee Proposal Stalls Again


San Jose’s City leaders fell one vote short of approving a study to consider the feasibility of a Commercial Linkage Fee (CLF) on September 18th, when it had appeared that a vote to proceed would finally happen after years of effort. Mayor Liccardo, long an opponent of a CLF, penned a memo supporting moving forward with the studies, as long as they included a feasibility study and that other options were considered, including a potential regional CLF requirement.

However, at the end of the day the vote deadlocked at 5-5 when Councilmember Tam Nguyen, who had personally committed his support to SV@Home and other advocates and who had publicly stated his support, inexplicably voted no. Unfortunately, Councilmember Don Rocha, a long-time champion of the CLF who thought the votes were there to pass the item, left the meeting prior to the vote.

Commercial linkage fees, which ask non-residential developers to pay a fee to mitigate the demand for affordable housing resulting from the jobs they create, is an established tool for generating resources to build affordable housing around the region.  Of the major cities in Santa Clara County only San Jose has not yet studied the relationship between building for jobs and the demand for housing. Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Cupertino, Palo Alto, and Santa Clara all have existing CLF ordinances. Milpitas has studied a CLF and is poised to take action this fall.

We ask others to provide money for affordable housing, including market-rate housing developers.  Commercial developers should be a part of the solution.  Given the dire need for more affordable housing resources in San Jose, SV@Home and its partners are working to find a solution that would bring the issue back before the City Council this fall.  We will alert the public when the item will be up for discussion and will be asking for your support in getting the votes needed to finally study this important funding source.