Housing Happenings

 

Save the Dates: December 8 and October 28 – Two Awesome Housing Events!

 

October Policy In Action @Home Announcement: Action Fund 2022 Legislative Update

Huge Year in Sacramento for Housing as Gov. Newsome Signs 40 Bills

Some of SV@Home Action Fund’s most significant legislative priorities were signed into law in September when Gavin Newsome approved more than 40 housing bills to close the 2022 legislative session. Please save the date for Friday, October 28th at noon, and join us for our monthly Policy In Action @Home series, where we will share knowledge regarding this year’s housing victories and their potential impact on Silicon Valley’s severe housing shortage.

Here is a highlight of four new housing laws we are incredibly excited about: 

 

AB 2011 (Wicks) streamlines the approval of projects that convert underused commercial property into homes. It requires affordability for a substantial portion of new homes and mandates labor protections to ensure that people who build new homes have good jobs. By focusing on building new homes on underdeveloped property, AB 2011 promotes solutions to the housing shortage that combat climate change and its disparate impact on urban communities.

 

AB 2097 (Friedman) — This bill removes arbitrary parking requirements near high-quality transit stops. Excess parking requirements make housing more expensive and sometimes outright impossible to build. AB 2097 does not prevent properties from including some parking, but it allows flexibility so that people are not forced to pay for more parking than they need. This could be a breakthrough in affordability for residents who do not drive or cannot afford a car. As cities plan for the future, removing mandatory parking minimums allows the focus to shift to more bike-, pedestrian- and transit-friendly infrastructure. This bill is a step in the right direction by making our cities more affordable, equitable, safe, sustainable, and healthy.

 

AB 2234 (Rivas) – This bill will help us get homes built faster. Currently, uncertainty in post-entitlement building approval processes often causes delays and higher costs for new homes. AB 2234 addresses that problem by requiring jurisdictions to keep housing development application processes online with detailed lists of permit requirements with sample applications. The bill also prohibits cities from adding last-minute requirements to housing projects that are already in progress. AB 2234 was authored by our own Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) and co-sponsored by our partners at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the Housing Action Coalition. Thank you, Assemblymember Rivas!

 

SB 649 (Cortese) — This bill allows jurisdictions and developers to create local tenant preferences for lower-income households most vulnerable to displacement. This bill addresses one of Silicon Valley’s top housing priorities by preventing removal and stabilizing neighborhoods. Local tenant preferences can keep people from being uprooted from the homes, schools, and communities where they grew up and raised their families. One of our local legislators, State Senator Dave Cortese (District 15-Santa Clara County), introduced and fought to pass this important law. Way to Go, Senator!

 

#MembershipMatters – Become a Member Today!

 

Become a member today to help us plan housing-rich, transit-oriented communities that are accessible to people of all incomes, backgrounds, and abilities.

 

Mountain View Housing Element HCD Review Letter Delivers Wake-Up Call to Santa Clara County Jurisdictions

The City of Mountain View was the first of our jurisdictions to submit a Draft Housing Element to HCD for review. On September 29, 2022, the City received its HCD review letter, which contained extensive changes necessary to bring the City’s Housing Element into compliance with state law. SV@Home and local housing advocates have been expressing concerns for months that cities throughout Santa Clara County are falling short of state requirements and will have to do a lot more work to get their plans certified before state sanctions kick in.

 

Regina Celestin Williams, Executive Director for SV@Home, said, “Given the dire affordable housing needs of our communities, we cannot afford to get this wrong. While Mountain View’s letter was not a surprise, it really spells out how much additional time and work it is going to take to meet the State’s requirements. The plan must have specific policies and outcomes, responding directly to current housing needs and our history of underserving low-income and communities of color throughout the State. We are in a housing crisis – everyone should have a safe, affordable place to live. We hope this letter serves as a wakeup call to jurisdictions, our necessary partners in this work.” Read our press release here and check your city’s status and how to comment at SV@Home’s Housing Element Toolkit

 

Only 3 jurisdictions have not yet released Draft Housing Elements 

Cupertino, Palo Alto, and Santa Clara County for unincorporated land have not yet released Draft Housing Elements. Since drafts must be available for public comment for 30 days before submission to HCD for a 90-day review period, these three jurisdictions will not receive feedback from HCD in time to make necessary changes and submit a final Housing Element before the January 31, 2023, deadline. This is especially concerning in light of the extensive revisions HCD finds during the review process for other jurisdictions. SV@Home encourages all jurisdictions to act with the urgency required by our housing crisis.

 

Upcoming Deadline: Gilroy’s Draft Housing Element public comment period closes October 12, 2022. See the Draft Housing Element here. Email comments to Cindy.McCormick@ci.gilroy.ca.us.

 

In Case You Missed It – ICYMI – Replay Our Important Policy Webinars from September

Why Is Affordable Housing Finance So Complex? Replay Provides Insight

ICYMI – Understand the challenges and opportunities, and how to help push projects to completion. What is affordable housing, and how is it financed? What factors shape financing and project decisions, and ultimately what gets built? This new series of events is designed to empower advocates on how to engage and drive their needs. Click on this button below for the replay:  

September PIA Explores Shelter, Interim and Permanent Housing Solutions

ICYMI – Our September edition of Policy in Action @Home featured a wide-ranging discussion about the current efforts to help unhoused residents get into and improve their opportunity for success in permanent affordable housing.  The Q and A portion of the event quickly turned to tiny homes and interim-shelter communities. There was significant concern about the costs and effectiveness of this approach, even while the questions supported the need for safe place to live with access to supportive services. Two days after this episode, the Bay Area News Group ran a comprehensive story on the issue. Read the article here. If you missed this discussion, we record every Policy in Action event, and a recording is available on YouTube. Click the button below for a replay.  

 

NPH Affordable Housing Conference

SV@Home’s Executive Director Regina Celestin Williams moderates a panel called “Opportunity for Whom? The Case for Building in BIPOC Neighborhoods” during the NPH Affordable Housing Conference Oct. 3 in San Francisco sponsored by our partners, the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California.

Rounding out our presence at the Affordable Housing Conference are, from left, Alison Cingolani, Emily Ramos, Kenneth Javier Rosales, Antonia Gutierrez, Jessica Martin, Sergio Lopez, Mathew Reed, Tom Murphy and one of our partners from West Valley Community Services, Kylie Clark.

 

SV@Home’s Policy Rundown, keeps you up-to-day of important housing policy actions throughout the Silicon Valley

 

Great Leap Forward for Transit-Oriented Communities

The Bay Area won a major victory last week on September 28th – the Transit-Oriented Communities (TOC) Policy was adopted by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)!

 

You may recall receiving an Action Alert from us to send your comments on the TOC Policy to the Commissioners – and they worked! During the Commission meeting, they heard, mentioned, and were moved by your massive call to pass the TOC Policy. We would like to thank our members for their advocacy and especially our regional coalition partners who have been deeply engaged in this effort for the past two years. We are honored to have been recruited by them earlier this year to advance Plan Bay Area 2050 goals of reaching housing, climate, and transportation justice in the Bay Area region through our shared key principles. Our regional partners empowered us to set our policy demands, meet with elected officials, and get involved in all the key public hearings. In the end, several joint recommendations we made were incorporated into the final policy, which leads us to also sending a shout-out of deep appreciation to MTC staff for their openness in engaging with us.

 

The TOC Policy will set the following key guidelines for development and regional transportation project funding opportunities within one-half mile of our transit stations:  

  • It requires cities implement at least six affordable housing production, preservation, and protection policies from a menu of options;
  • It encourages compact, walkable communities near transit stations, by setting minimum density requirements for new development;
  • It prioritizes pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders over drivers, by setting parking maximums for new residential and commercial development; and
  • It mandates cities study how they can improve connectivity to transit stations for people on foot and wheels.

Although the TOC Policy is a great leap forward for our region, there remain shortcomings that we intend to address in future iterations. We are disappointed with:

  • The Commission’s decision to reduce residential density requirements for some of the region’s most exclusive cities, jurisdictions with populations under 30,000, with the greatest access to opportunities and resources, which contradicts with the region’s commitment to affirmatively further fair housing and reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • The approval of a lengthy, unconsolidated, and unrefined affordable housing policy menu that, despite the magnitude of the housing unaffordability facing our region, the TOC Policy has, causing it to fail at ensuring a greater impact and scale for housing production, preservation, and tenant protections.

 

Regardless of the outcome, it is now time for implementation! We will be in contact with our regional partners on how to integrate these new TOC Policy requirements with the Housing Elements cities are currently updating throughout the Bay Area and in our very own Santa Clara County. If you would like to get involved with our regional partners to engage in your city about the new TOC Policy, please contact Justine Marcus at jmarcus@enterprisecommunity.org.

 

Also! Check out the Policy in Action @ Home event we hosted on the TOC Policy with MTC, Enterprise Community Partners, and SPUR San José back in June for more information. Here’s a blog post on the TOC Policy put together by TransForm right before the September 28th decision. And if you enjoy reading actual policy, you can check out the final TOC Policy here.

 

Mobility Session Report-Out and Up Next: Affordable Housing Council Study Session for the Moffett Park Specific Plan

Last time we wrote to you all about the City of Sunnyvale’s Moffett Park Specific Plan (MPSP or the Plan) was right before the City Council held a Session on Mobility scheduled for September 20th.  SV@Home ended up supporting staff’s direction to transform the land of office buildings, parking lots, and single-occupancy vehicles. We were pleased to see that we have a shared vision for Moffett Park of a vibrant, sustainable neighborhood with well-connected, complete streets designed for the accessibility of up to 42,000 new residents of varying income ranges and its visitors that will traverse the area on a daily basis. We would like to thank our partner, Livable Sunnyvale, for holding a briefing with Sunnyvale staff ahead of the Study Session. This helped us better prepare our public testimony on this mobility topic.

Staff presented several Transportation Demand Management (TDM) programs and goals that could come online in Moffett Park, such as (but not limited to) establishing a Transportation Management Association (TMA), reducing single-occupancy vehicle use by 50 percent through the build-out of the plan, unbundling parking, and requiring a phased-approach to parking maximums. These TDM programs can provide a wide range of transit options to tenants at a wide range of income levels. Also, unbundled parking for example, could help save the cost of parking, which can go towards building more affordable units – a potentially tremendous Houser win. Given that Moffett Park has the capacity of 20,000 units (approximately 42,000 new residents), we are going to need all the tools we can get our hands on to reach that ceiling and maximize affordable homes. Since the Draft Housing Element calls for 4,545 lower-income homes in the next 8 years, this could be an opportunity for us to push for more than the 20 percent affordable home amount we typically advocate for in major plan areas that have 20-plus year planning periods.

Many concerns were raised by the public and City Council, there was a public Q&A portion of the Study Session, along with the lengthy Council discussion that takes place in most meetings. We recommend watching the City Council Study Session in full to find out about all the juicy topics that were covered. Nonetheless, some of the issues that were touched-on included: concerns about the oversight of a TMA, sequencing residential versus non-residential developments, minimizing vehicle miles traveled, updates on the Mary Avenue Overcrossing project, and integrating planning efforts both inside and outside of Moffett Park. During our public testimony, we asked City Council and staff to include the presented TDMs as concrete goals, policies, and action items with clear strategies into the final Plan. We also recommended that the MPSP meet the requirements of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s recently adopted Transit-Oriented Communities Policy, which includes requirements to adopt 3Ps policies so they can access transportation funding opportunities, bringing us closer to actually implementing our shared transportation visions of the Moffett Park area.

We were surprised to learn that the Draft Moffett Park Specific Plan would be coming out in late November 2022, rather than July of next year, which means our timeline just got a lot shorter! The next Study Session on Tuesday, October 18th at 6pm (click here for Zoom link) will finally be on Community Benefits and Affordable Housing. This is an important opportunity for us to ensure new neighborhoods will accommodate the needs for people that live there, while people who work there can afford to live there.

Livable Sunnyvale will be holding another briefing with staff prior to this next City Council Study Session, so if you are interested, please contact Kenneth Javier-Rosales at kenneth@siliconvalleyathome.org. In the meantime, we will keep you posted!

As always, updated information is provided at the City of Sunnyvale’s MPSP website.

 

Sunnyvale Tenant Protection Meetings Stalled 

The City of Sunnyvale is exploring two tenant protection policies: Tenant Relocation Assistance and Right-to-Lease. The relocation assistance would be given when a tenant receives a no-fault eviction, meaning they are being evicted for causes like the unit is being renovated, the owner would like to move into the unit, or if the owner wants to remove the unit from the market. Tenant Relocation Assistance is essential to helping residents remain in their communities when they are evicted through no fault of their own. 

 

A Right-to-Lease ordinance requires landlords to offer a minimum one-year lease to tenants, providing the opportunity of stability and predictability for them.  We were able to look into Palo Alto who already had this policy, but research and community engagement found that their reach was very limited and the effective enforcement was difficult to assess. 

 

However, a number of policies that alone address only a small piece of the need, were actually determined to be complimentary, and together were more likely to have real impact. When you connect these policies to the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (AB 1482), which provides anti-gouging and eviction protections, that impact greatly increases. 

 

The city gathered input during stakeholder meetings in June.  At the Housing and Human Services Commission in September, SV@Home spoke in support of both policy proposals, but we were disappointed in the lack of prioritizing the needs of rent burdened tenants at risk of displacement. The commission voted to water down the relocation assistance to 1 month of rent. Notably, most other cities offer 3 months of assistance.

 

There were scheduled meetings for the Planning Commission and City Council in October about the proposed ordinance, but staff requested to make some changes in response to some state laws that had passed in the last few years. These meetings were rescheduled to a date uncertain but will come before the city council before the end of the year. 

 

Throughout the County, cities are looking at various tenant protections to prevent the displacement of long-term residents as housing costs rapidly rise. The economic impact of COVID, especially on low-income residents and the anti-displacement requirements to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH) in the Housing Element are main drivers of this push. We hope to work with the city of Sunnyvale and many other cities to prioritize adopting strong tenant protection policies.

 

Santa Clara Affordable Housing Delayed by Neighborhood Petition 

The Santa Clara City Council voted on Sept. 27 to remove what would have a final approval of a proposed 108-unit affordable project from its agenda. The action was taken at the beginning of the meeting when the agenda was reviewed so many who had come to support the project, and those who opposed the project, were not able to weigh in. Initially it looked like the project would be dropped without being rescheduled, but in the end the Council supported a date of Nov. 15 to bring it back.

 

Thank you to all who responded to our call for support, sent letters and came prepared to speak in favor of the project. We will be sharing information on how to support the project when it returns in November. 

 

Delays in approval of affordable housing communities are not that unusual. This development, proposed by Charities Housing, at 1601 Civic Center Drive, will include 108 deeply affordable homes, one block from the El Camino Real transit corridor. The backlash was very familiar as homeowners from the surrounding area opposed to the project and complained about shadows, parking, traffic, biased perceptions of the future residents of the housing. They raised concerns for the safety of their neighbors, and how the value of their homes would decrease. We heard the consistently unwelcoming arguments for why an affordable project should be built somewhere else and in someone else’s neighborhood.

 

What was different about this delay was that the trigger, or excuse, for the Council was a petition by the neighbors demanding that the site be made into a park rather than homes. The site is privately owned by Charities Housing, who has expressed no interest in making it a park. The City of Santa Clara has expressed no interest in seizing the property under eminent domain or otherwise taking ownership of the property. The property is located across the street from the City Hall greens and plaza and two blocks from one of the larger parks in the City. This is a very dangerous precedent, which happened outside of the regular development approval process, and we were discouraged to see that council was willing to support this new tactic for opposing affordable housing. There is clearly more work to do in Santa Clara.

 

Engagement Dates for San José’s Affordable Siting Policy

The City of San José’s Housing Department will be hosting one more community meeting on the Affordable Housing Siting Policy which will determine how and where the City’s will invest in affordable housing communities.  This meeting will be a lead up to the Community and Economic Development City Council Committee on October 24th, where staff will be presenting a new, and significantly improved approach that commits to expanding choices and access to some of the more exclusive community, without removing support for lower-income communities that need affordable housing as well. The proposed changes reflect community and housing advocates concerns with the methodology, language and long-term consequences of the policy supported by the City Council last year.

 

This is a real opportunity for the city expand affordable choices, but it will take the support of the City Council to change course. The Housing Department is eager to hear the community’s thoughts and feedback on the improved plan, and we need to get involved early!  Below are the dates and Zoom participation links to the upcoming community meeting and the public hearing:

 

Community Meeting

Thursday, October 13th, 2022

6:00 PM – 7:30 PM

Click here to register for zoom meeting

Meeting ID: 831 3936 3718

 

Community and Economic Development City Council Committee

Monday, October 24th, 2022

Time: 1:30 PM

Hybrid Meeting – Virtuallyhttps://sanjoseca.zoom.us/j/81616093339

Council Chambers – 200 E. Santa Clara St. San José, CA 95113

Contact Elisha St Laurent elisha.stlaurent@sanjoseca.gov if you have questions regarding the Affordable Housing Siting Policy.

 

SV@Home and CoHo Present Happy Housers with The San Francisco Foundation and SJSU Institute of Metropolitan Studies

SV@Home and its Coalition of Housers (CoHo), with special co-hosts, the San Francisco Foundation and the San Jose State University Institute of Metropolitan Studies, invite you to join us for Happy Housers! Please join us on Wednesday, October 26 at 6 p.m. at Downtown San Jose’s San Pedro Market for an evening of connection and conversing with the Bay Area’s leading advocates for housing justice. Light sips and bites will be provided.

 

San Francisco Foundation’s mission is to mobilize resources and act as a catalyst for change to build strong communities, foster civic leadership, and promote philanthropy in the San Francisco Bay Area.

 

The Institute for Metropolitan Studies at San Jose State is an interdisciplinary center for public-facing programming, research, and pedagogy on urban issues across geographic scales. 

 

SPUR Presents: Resiliency in the Face of Changing Climate

Californians — and citizens worldwide — are feeling the effects of a changing and warming climate. Sea levels are rising, ice caps are melting and wildfires are more intense and frequent. As California grapples with how to address the impacts of climate change, the California Natural Resources Agency has been tasked with building California’s climate resiliency, preserving the state’s biodiversity and expanding equitable access to natural areas. Join our chat with California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot as we discover what the California Natural Resources Agency is working on and how it’s preparing California for a more climate-resilient future.

OCTOBER 11, 12:30PM, ONLINE EVENT

 

League of Women Voters and Greenbelt Alliance Present: Housing and Homelessness Through a Climate Change Lens

League members and the public are invited to join us for this webinar to learn more about how the climate crisis impacts housing and homelessness in California. If you’re interested in learning more about the link between environmental factors and housing, join us to hear some insight from some leading experts in the field.

 

OCTOBER 12, 5:00PM, ONLINE EVENT

 

SCANPH Presents: Survivor Services in Permanent Supportive Housing – Connecting and Sharing Insights Across Sectors

Join us on for the first of this series:  Partnerships with Cities and Communities to Support Survivor Access and Community Integration in Housing. Join Pat Bell and Melissa Pitts from House of Ruth Inc. and Joseph Bradford from B.A.R.E. Truth Inc. for a conversation surrounding partnerships with cities and counties to support survivor access to permanent housing.

OCTOBER 20, 9:00AM, ONLINE EVENT

 

Register to Vote Today — 2022 General Election on November 8

Now’s the time to make sure you and your friends and family are registered to vote! It’s easy to do online at the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters’ website here.

Register or re-register at the same website. Turned 18? Moved? Have you changed your name? Want to change your party affiliation? Became a citizen? Not sure when you last registered, and just want to double-check everything is up to date. Follow the same link.

The outcomes of local elections will determine how our county and cities tackle housing affordability, and your vote could be the deciding one in a close race. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Register today.

 

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