February 12, 2019

Santa Clara: Approves the Agrihood with 361 New Homes


On January 29th, the Santa Clara City Council unanimously approved the Agrihood, concluding a 15-year process that is finally bringing affordable housing to the former UC Davis BAREC site in Santa Clara. The Agrihood is a 361-home development to be developed by the CORE companies on former agricultural land that is currently a temporary parking lot for Westfield Valley Fair. The development incorporates community feedback and site history by centering on an urban farm meant to bring together the community and reflect the historical importance of the former agricultural use.

In total, the development includes 165 affordable senior apartments, 16 middle-income apartments, 144 market rate apartments and 36 market rate townhomes, as well as the 1.7 acre urban farm and up to 5,000 square feet of retail. Of the 165  senior homes, 45 will receive funding from Measure A to provide permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless residents.

SV@Home and a broad coalition of partners, including Destination: Home, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, South Bay YIMBY, Housing Trust Silicon Valley, the League of Women Voters San Jose/Santa Clara, Greenbelt Alliance, and AARP, came out in force to call upon the council to approve the development without delay.

While the final hearing was mostly taken up by a discussion over adding retail space to the Agrihood (with the local group Catalyze SV advocating for a octupling of retail square footage), the position of our housing coalition and the majority of public testimony was clear: we wanted the affordable homes to move forward. Adding more retail to the development at this stage in the process would have necessitated a redesign and created a delay of 6-12 months.  It also would have created new challenges in the financing structure of the development, in particular the affordable housing units. These downsides were not worth it to our housing advocacy coalition, especially given that the Agrihood site is located near stores on Steven’s Creek Boulevard and retail magnet Santana Row, and is directly across the street from Westfield Valley Fair, the most successful retail center in the South Bay.

During their presentation on the development, the Core Companies offered to compromise by including an additional 2,000 square feet of retail. This offer, along with a detailed presentation from city staff laying out the delicacy of the project’s financing and timeline, as well as the strong housing advocate push, combined to convince the Council to approve the development.

Ultimately, the council approved the development with an additional 2,600 square feet of retail (up to 5,000 square feet total). our understanding is that this smaller addition will be possible without a major redesign, and will not delay the affordable housing.

SV@Home is deeply grateful to the partners that supported the approval of these 361 homes without delay, as well as grateful to the 159 individuals and five organizations who signed on to SV@Home’s petition in support of the Agrihood. This stands as a great example of how your advocacy has a real impact on decision-making processes.