Palo Alto: Renter Protections + Palo Alto Renters’ Alliance (PARA)
In the fall of 2021, the Palo Alto City Council endorsed a package of local renter protection ordinances including an apartment rent registry, a local extension of state anti-eviction protections, and an expansion of the local tenant relocation ordinance. These were significant steps for a city like Palo Alto that had not had a strong history of ordinances to support tenants, despite rentals making up over 40% of local homes. These steps originated with a failed council effort in 2017, and the direction for staff to explore local solutions came in the wake of the mass displacement of tenants from the conversion of President’s Hotel apartments in August of 2018. The work gained real momentum when the City applied for a Challenge Grant from the Partnership for the Bay’s Future (PBF) in late 2019, resulting in the formation of the Palo Alto Renters’ Alliance. To its credit, Palo Alto has recognized the importance of tenant protections as an essential part of the response to the displacement stemming from the housing crisis.
SV@Home was invited to partner with Palo Alto city staff, and with a PBF Challenge Grant Fellow embedded with the City, to coordinate on community outreach, policy research and formulation, local organizing, and advocacy. With additional PBF flexible community grant funds, SV@Home supported a local organizer to nurture leadership and jumpstart a local renter movement through PARA to advocate for passage of the renter protections package. SV@Home committed to additional financial and technical support for PARA, and our ongoing partnership with the City of Palo Alto as the ordinances are finalized and implemented. Renter protections are an essential part of local “3 Ps” tool kits, along with affordable housing production and preservation, and educating and empowering impacted residents, disproportionately low-income households and BIPOC communities, is key to advancing comprehensive policies.
County of Santa Clara: SV@Home Action Fund
Established in 2019, the SV@Home Action Fund is a 501(c)4 organization that addresses the housing crisis through civic engagement, legislative advocacy, and support or opposition of ballot measures that impact affordable housing and homelessness. As part of its core education work, the Action Fund hosts events and shares information to help voters understand the most critical housing issues in the South Bay. For example, this includes candidate forums that help residents learn which candidates value safe, stable, affordable homes for everyone in Santa Clara County.
The Action Fund was instrumental in passing San José’s 2020 Measure E, which raises tens of millions of dollars a year for affordable housing in the city. The Action Fund’s legislative advocacy program has been key in helping secure bills that implement the CASA Compact under the aegis of the 3Ps Coalition. Learn more.
Regional: CASA Committee
In December 2016, the MTC Board approved the creation of CASA – the Committee to House the Bay Area. CASA’s purpose was to develop a comprehensive regional approach to identifying game changing regional solutions to address the region’s chronic housing challenges, with a focus on supply, affordability at all income levels, and preservation/anti-displacement. CASA formally launched in early 2018, beginning with a series of workshops to develop an agreed upon framework.
SV@Home’s former Executive Director Leslye Corsiglia co-chaired CASA alongside Fred Blackwell, CEO of the San Francisco Foundation, and Michael Covarrubias, Chairman and CEO of TMG Partners. Throughout 2018, CASA worked to create the final CASA Compact, approved by the Steering Committee in December 2018. With a finalized Compact as a guide, CASA shifted to the implementation phase, collaborating with local and state officials to advance a wide range of state legislation addressing the production of affordable housing, preservation of existing affordable housing, and protection of vulnerable tenants. You can learn more about our successful legislative advocacy here.
SV@Home has long been a major supporter of creating new housing and affordable housing opportunities at the defunct Vallco Mall in Cupertino. Following years of community conversations and a number of failed efforts (including two competing measures on the November 2016 ballot), in September 2018 the Council and City of Cupertino approved two paths for Vallco’s redevelopment: 1) via streamlining legislation (Senate Bill 35); or 2) via a City-approved specific plan. Following the 2018 local elections, the City Council decided to cancel the specific plan, which left only the SB35 option available to the developer. Ongoing litigation and City-imposed delays continue to hamper the proposed development, which includes 2,402 new homes, 50% of them (1,201!) deed-restricted affordable.
While this process continues to drag on, SV@Home strongly supports the original, affordable housing-rich SB35 proposal. We continue to urge the City of Cupertino to take the necessary actions to move this critical project forward.
Mountain View: North Bayshore Plan
In 2017, the Mountain View City Council approved the North Bayshore Precise Plan, a groundbreaking, housing-rich plan for bringing 9,850 new homes to North Bayshore, 20% of them deed-restricted affordable. Since the Plan’s passage, moving to implementation has been challenging. However, in 2021 some major breakthroughs were made, including the allocation of additional office development capacity to Google, which will enable their proposed Master Plan comprising 7,000 new homes, 20% of them affordable. An additional initial proposal by SyWest includes over 2,000 new homes, which, when combined with the current affordable housing already under construction in the area, would meet the City’s housing goal. Learn more.
SV@Home led the local coalition that supported the Plan’s initial passage in 2017 and has continued to actively engage, ensuring that the 9,850 planned homes are actually built. We are continuing to work with the City of Mountain View and housing advocates to realize the Plan’s housing-rich vision.
Sunnyvale: Lawrence Station & Moffett Park
In 2021, Sunnyvale took major steps towards realizing housing-rich visions for Lawrence Station and Moffett Park. In May 2021, the City Council approved the study of up to 20,000 new homes at Moffett Park, which is currently dominated by office parks and parking lots. The City is planning to transform the area into an Eco-Innovation District that integrates housing, neighborhood-serving retail, new jobs, ecological improvements, and open space, all along transit lines. Just a few months later in September, the Council approved significant amendments to maximize housing density at the transit-oriented Lawrence Caltrain Station area: increasing the number of planned homes by 3,612 for a total of 5,935 units. Learn more about Lawrence Station & Moffett Park.
SV@Home was a strong advocate for increasing the planned housing density at Lawrence Station and has encouraged the City to explore a housing-rich Moffett Park plan. We are continuing to work with the City on Lawrence Station’s implementation and the further development of the housing plan for Moffett Park.
Sunnyvale: Comprehensive Housing Strategy
In October 2020, the Sunnyvale City Council adopted a comprehensive Housing Strategy that included dozens of policy items and will shape the city’s approach to housing for years to come. One of the most important policy proposals was a proactive approach to mobilehome rent stabilization in the city, which SV@Home strongly supported. The Sunnyvale City Council followed up on this piece in July 2021, voting to implement a Memorandum of Understanding policy that will help vulnerable mobilehome residents remain stably housed.
SV@Home has been a major booster of Sunnyvale’s comprehensive approach to housing policy. We were thrilled to join with our partners Liveable Sunnyvale and Greenbelt Alliance to support the Strategy’s passage and are continuing to work closely with the City of Sunnyvale to advance and implement its many excellent policies.
Los Gatos: North 40 Specific Plan
In August 2017, the Los Gatos Town Council approved the North 40 Phase I project proposed by Summerhill Homes, Grosvenor Americas, and Eden Housing, marking the successful conclusion of a multi-year struggle against significant local resistance, which included an initial rejection of the plan followed by a court ordered reconsideration. Los Gatos, like many other local jurisdictions, had long resisted building new housing, flaunting local need and state laws. With 320 new homes, 50 of which were to be affordable, the plan included significantly higher-density housing than had previously been allowed in Los Gatos. Most importantly, the final action of the Town Council marked a major turning point for local political leadership’s ability to stand up for both local responsibility to address local affordable housing needs, and accountability to being part of the regional solution to the housing crisis. The North 40 Phase I plan covered only half – 20 acres – of the development area, and five years later the potential for integrating retail and housing in Phase II remains a local struggle. Learn more.
SV@Home brought together a regional coalition of community based, labor, and environmental housing advocates in 2016 to argue that every jurisdiction – big and small – needs to do its part to provide housing for our growing population, including the thousands of workers who have to commute every day from outside the County because they can’t find an affordable home closer to where they work. Los Gatos North 40 was about equity and making room for positive and necessary change.
Santa Clara: Inclusionary Zoning and Commercial Linkage Fee
In February of 2018, The City of Santa Clara adopted an Affordable Housing Ordinance that established both an Inclusionary Housing program and a Non-Residential Fee program (Commercial Linkage Fee). The City’s action followed years of discussion and advocacy, and was the local culmination of a critical multi-city Affordable Housing Nexus Study completed in 2016 with the support of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. In a unique process the City convened an Ad-Hoc Affordable Housing Working Group in the Spring of 2018 made up of housing and environmental advocates, representatives of the building industry, labor representatives, and members of the City Council. Over the course of nearly 20 hours of meetings, the working group poured through the findings of the Nexus Study, and hammered out a consensus recommendation that became the foundation for the Council action. Santa Clara’s Inclusionary Housing program has been successful at integrating affordable units into market rate developments, even as Santa Clara has entitled and built more new homes per-capita than any other jurisdiction in the County. Meanwhile the funds generated by the fees on non-residential development have helped the city become a leader in 100% affordable housing development.
SV@Home was a critical advocate for local engagement with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s multi-city Nexus Study, which was foundational to affordable housing production and financing ordinances throughout the county. We were also an active member of the Ad-Hoc Affordable Housing Task Force, and led a broad coalition of housers in support of the Santa Clara’s task force’s recommendations.
Milpitas: Emergency Rental Assistance Fund
Following a difficult discussion about expanding Tenant Protections in Milpitas, the City Council established a Subcommittee on housing in May of 2019. In its first action, the subcommittee recommended a pilot rent relief program in early October, which was adopted with overwhelming council support before the end of the month, with a solid budget allocation to provide assistance to households with emergency housing needs. The program was made permanent and refunded in March of 2020, giving Milpitas a head start with existing program infrastructure just as the COVID 19 rent crisis hit. Over the next year the city secured multiple rounds of federal and state funding to expand their program, supporting nearly 300 households with close to $500,000. The program is effectively targeted at vulnerable populations including victims of domestic violence, those at particularly high risk of becoming homeless, and older adults on fixed incomes.
SV@Home has worked with City Staff and the City Council for a long time on homeless prevention efforts including exploring renter protections, establishing the Housing Subcommittee, and supporting the emergency rental assistance program. It is always good practice to prevent people from losing their homes and being displaced. Tenant protections and homeless prevention programs at the local level are critical tools, along with housing preservation and housing production, and our efforts are ongoing across the County.
Santa Clara: Agrihood
In January 2019, the Santa Clara City Council unanimously approved the ground-breaking Agrihood, a 361-home project being developed by the CORE companies on former agricultural land. The Council vote concluded a 15-year process that is finally bringing affordable housing to the former UC Davis BAREC site in Santa Clara. 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. Learn more.
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, successfully advocated with the Council for the project’s approval.
San Jose: Measure E
In March 2020, 53.45% of San José voters passed Measure E, a Real Estate Transfer Tax on properties that are valued at more than $2 million, that will be directed toward activities that respond to the city’s affordable housing and homelessness crisis. Originally expected to generate $30 million during its first year (FY 2020-2021), the measure generated closer to $40 million. In Fiscal Year 2021-2022, the measure is expected to generate an additional $40 million, making Measure E the single largest ongoing funding source for homeless prevention and affordable housing development in San José. Learn more.
The SV@Home Action Fund is proud to have led the successful campaign, working in partnership with Mayor Sam Liccardo and a broad based coalition of philanthropy, health care, public education, urban and environmental justice groups, neighbors, and community groups to ensure the measure’s successful passage.
San Jose: Diridon Station
In May 2021, the San José City Council unanimously approved Google’s ground-breaking Downtown West proposal, which will bring 4,000 new homes to Diridon Station, 1,000 of them deed-restricted affordable. The proposal includes a $154.8 million Community Stabilization Fund, which will help counter displacement pressures city-wide. The Council also unanimously adopted amendments to the Diridon Station Area Plan, which pave the way for 13,519 new homes across the entire Station Area, 25% of which will be affordable to households with a broad range of incomes, including permanent supportive housing. To reach these goals and realize the City’s priority to prevent displacement in the surrounding area, the Council also approved an Affordable Housing Implementation Plan (AHIP) that lays out the tools that are needed to produce the affordable homes, preserve existing local resources, and protect tenants from the market impact of this plan. Learn more.
SV@Home was a strong supporter of a housing-rich Diridon Station from the very beginning, and played a major role in advocating for housing and affordable housing inclusion in Google’s Proposal and the entire Plan area.
San Jose: Commercial Linkage Fee
In September 2020, the San Jose City Council voted to support a Commercial Linkage Fee (CLF) following years of effort and dogged advocacy. A CLF is a fee that is assessed on new commercial development that offsets the impact that the creation of new jobs has on the need for new affordable homes. For Downtown San Jose office space, the fee level is set at $12-15 per square foot depending on when the fee is paid. Office and industrial developments outside the Downtown area pay considerably lower fees, as low as $1 per square foot. Developers can also meet their fee requirements by providing affordable housing. Retail space is exempt and the City plans to reevaluate the fees again in 2022. Overall, these new fees are expected to generate tens of millions of dollars for new affordable housing. Learn more.
SV@Home worked alongside a coalition of over 50 community-serving partners to ask the City Council to support the highest feasible fee, to commit to a timely review, and to set a reasonable deadline for when fees are collected. While the Council’s vote was an important step, the agreement they reached set fees lower than we believe are necessary and did not address many of our other concerns. However, we are proud of our coalition’s work to push San Jose to become the last major city in Santa Clara County to adopt a CLF. This was an important step, but more effort will be required in the future to strengthen the policy and ensure new office development is contributing to meeting the affordable housing needs it generates.
County of Santa Clara & San Jose: Tenant-based housing subsidy ”Source of Income” Anti-Discrimination Laws
In March of 2017, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance making it illegal to refuse to rent to tenants with rental assistance vouchers or other housing assistance, who otherwise had the ability to pay. Tenant-based rental assistance vouchers, most commonly known as Section 8 or Housing Choice Vouchers, offer a potential lifeline to extremely low income households facing crippling rent burdens or moving out of homelessness, by subsidizing the difference between one-third of a household’s income and the full rent of an apartment. Thousands of local households are on the waiting list for these subsidies, but even those who have received vouchers face tremendous barriers to finding available housing in Silicon Valley’s extremely tight housing market, and landlords often refused to rent to them, even including “no Section 8” in apartment listings.
The action by the Board of Supervisors came quickly after the resolution, in January of 2017, of a legal challenge to similar “Source of Income” anti-discrimination laws in Southern California, paving the way for a similar law to pass in San Jose in 2018. In 2019, the California State Legislature amended the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), extending these protections across the state.
SV@Home worked with a coalition of local advocates in San Jose as early as 2015 to push for Source of Income anti-discrimination laws, and supported a series of reforms made by the Santa Clara Housing Authority, which administers most of the voucher programs, to streamline the approval and payment process to reduce administrative costs to landlords. Tenant based rental assistance, which supports more than 15,000 households in Santa Clara County, is both a precious and essential tool in the response to our housing crisis. Making these programs work for both tenants and landlords is critical to the program’s success.
Morgan Hill: Inclusionary Housing Ordinance
In July 2018, the Morgan Hill City Council approved an Inclusionary Housing Ordinance that requires all residential development in the downtown to include 10% of units as deed-restricted affordable and any residential development outside the downtown to include at least 15%. The city provides developers with alternative compliance options that include, as of March 2019, the ability to pay in-lieu fees to the city’s affordable housing fund. This made Morgan Hill one of the first Santa Clara County jurisdictions to adopt a new Inclusionary Housing Ordinance following the state legislature’s October 2017 passage of the “Palmer Fix” that clarified the ability of local jurisdictions to adopt these ordinances. Learn more.
SV@Home has advocated for all Santa Clara County jurisdictions to adopt Inclusionary Housing Ordinances since the state legislature passed the “Palmer Fix,” which entered effect in 2018. Beyond just creating more affordable homes, inclusionary ordinances create mixed-income developments so people from different socio-economic backgrounds are given the opportunity to access the same services and amenities, addressing federal fair housing obligations.
County of Santa Clara: VTA Housing
In April 2016, the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) Board of Directors adopted a strong affordable housing policy to govern the disposition of all VTA-owned land. The policy established a systemwide goal that 35% of all residential units built on VTA land be affordable to residents earning 80% of the area median income or less. This goal will be met through prioritizing opportunities for standalone, 100% affordable projects on VTA land. Additionally, the policy requires that any market-rate residential project include at least 20% of the units as affordable to low-income residents of Santa Clara County. Overall, VTA’s affordable housing policies put the agency at the forefront of addressing the critical need for land for affordable housing directly accessible to transit resources. Learn more.
SV@Home led the coalition of affordable housing developers, supported by other key community partners, to advocate for this policy’s adoption. Since its passage in 2016, these policies have been crucial to opening up new opportunities for affordable housing across the County and ensuring that publicly owned land is put to use providing much-needed affordable homes for in-need residents.
San Jose: Enforcement of the Surplus Land Act
In 2016, the City of San Jose adopted a policy for the sale of surplus city-owned property that was out of compliance with the State Surplus Land Act, arguing that as a Charter City, San Jose was not required to abide by this state law. The action marked the failure of a long campaign by local and regional advocates pressing local prioritization of surplus city property for affordable housing, and compliance with 2015 amendments to the state law, but the effort was not over. The action by the city was immediately challenged in Court, and in November of 2019 the appellate court ruled against the city in Anderson v. City of San José, finding that the state law was a reasonable response to the shortage of sites for affordable housing, and that charter cities were not exempt from the state law. The court’s ruling had broad implications for the power of the state to pass and enforce laws to address the affordable housing crisis. There are 121 charter cities in California, home to over half of the state’s population.
SV@Home led the local campaign, and has coordinated with regional partners to strengthen and enforce state laws intended to expand the opportunities for affordable housing development through state action where local government has sought to erect barriers. The state Surplus Land Act, first enacted in the 1970s, was further strengthened in 2019 and the state now requires that a data base inventorying publicly-owned surplus land be maintained by the State Department of Housing and Community Development, and be incorporated into local Housing Element reporting. The crisis of housing affordability is very clearly a matter of statewide concern, and SV@Home plays a critical role in ensuring local accountability to state laws intended to respond to this crisis.
County of Santa Clara: Measure A
In November 2016, 67.88% of Santa Clara County voters approved a landmark funding measure for affordable housing, making $950 million available for the acquisition or improvement of housing for vulnerable populations. In 2017, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved funding for the first six developments, each of which includes supportive housing units dedicated to households exiting homelessness. As of the end of 2021, the County has allocated $546,019,628 of Measure A funds, supporting the development of 3,662 new deeply affordable apartments and renovating 618 in 35 developments across seven Santa Clara County cities. Learn more.
SV@Home was proud to be a lead organization assisting the 2016 campaign and continues to strongly support the allocation of Measure A funds and approval of Measure A-supported projects to provide homes for the most vulnerable members of our community.