March 15, 2019

San Jose: Housing makes list of City priorities


At its March 5th meeting, the San Jose City Council conducted its annual Priority Setting session where it takes time to consider the top issues facing the city and determines which of those have the highest priority for the coming year. The Council Priority List that comes out of this meeting is intended to provide staff with guidance as it shapes internal work plans.

Housing issues are prominent on the list of the 25 priorities.

Most issues were rolled over from the 2018 list. These include:

  1. Mobile Home Conversions– Review and potentially amend the Mobile Home Conversion Ordinance to address the protection of health, safety and welfare of mobile home park residents, including any needed General Plan amendments.
  2. Development of a Soft-Story Retrofit Program–Explore developing a program to incentivize the seismic retrofit of multifamily soft-story buildings. An incentive program may motivate owners to retrofit inadequate structures that pose a safety risk to over 24,000 San Jose residents who live in the approximately 1,093 “soft-story” buildings.
  3. ADU and Garage Conversion Ordinance– Consider many actions related to ADUs, including eliminating impediments to conversion of detached garages/accessory units, studying an amnesty program to legalize illegal non-conforming accessory units, encouraging a robust public information effort, and considering a garage conversion ordinance. Additionally, the Council added new ideas from Councilmembers Carrasco and Foley to simplify the permitting and development process and study fee reductions.
  4. North San Jose Policy Review–Review North San José development policies, fees, and development capacity allocations, which could open up opportunities for thousands of new affordable homes.
  5. Commercial Linkage Fee for Affordable Housing– Research the potential of a non-residential development fee as an additional source of revenue for affordable housing development.
  6. Development of a Safe Parking Program– Explore and develop an ordinance which would allow for a legal use of “safe parking”in public and privately-owned parking lots for people who live in their vehicles.
  7. Anti-Displacement Preference Ordinance–Explore the development of policy that will allow a set-aside in affordable housing developments that prioritizes residents who are being displaced that live in low-income neighborhoods undergoing displacement and/or gentrification.

A new item– considering a Universal Development Fee, which seeks to create a fee structure that contains all current development tax and impact fees– was added. And, the council also “green lighted” a proposal from Councilmember Foley to reduce or eliminate parking minimums near transit, acknowledging that this work item will be incorporated into existing work the staff is doing.

Bottom line– lots of focus on housing in 2019!