Like Little Red Riding Hood, San Jose is being lured into an ominous future. The Big Bad Wolf in this case is a group of wealthy landowners and developers who are peddling a deceptive, cynical ballot measure called the “Evergreen Senior Homes Initiative.”
Masquerading as an innocent, much-needed solution to the housing needs of seniors and veterans, the fine print in the 367-page initiative shows a long and pervasive string of amendments to the San Jose Envision 2024 General Plan and to the Municipal Code.
These amendments bestow multiple benefits, exceptions, exemptions and waivers from requirements, effectively applying a new “layer” of laws onto the city code.
If enacted by voters in June, these laws will affect every neighborhood and every resident in San Jose and will worsen traffic and sprawl.
It will also weaken the requirements on future development for affordable housing that the city regularly imposes on builders of luxury homes.
These sinister amendments to the general plan will modify San Jose’s blueprint for development in ways that will sharply reduce the city’s revenue while increasing the cost of providing services. This will cause a deficit of $24.5 million per year to the general fund, and residents will feel the pain.
Unless voters are willing to pay more taxes to make up for the deficit, services will have to be cut. The result will be less money for police, fire, emergency services, parks, libraries and community centers. It will mean less cleanup of trash and graffiti and less road maintenance. Meanwhile, the Big Bad Wolves will be laughing all the way to the bank.
The promoters of the Evergreen Senior Homes Initiative are making an investment that could pay out hundreds of millions of dollars, so we voters can expect to receive a flood of campaign materials lavishing it with praise in the weeks leading up to the June primary. Some will show lovely pictures, others will criticize politicians or present false-choice alternatives. Some of us have already received a flyer that shows politicians talking: implying that they are not doing enough to solve the housing crisis and therefore urging voters to take action themselves.
But we must recognize that flyers like this mask the actual harm embedded in this initiative and what lurks behind the developers’ seemingly simple and attractive proposal is a malicious effort to get voters to sidestep the rules for them. Their message twists and obscures a loud chorus of warning calls coming from San Jose elected officials, (including the mayor and all 10 council members), state representatives, neighborhood groups, homeowner associations, school trustees, open space advocates, environmental and civic organizations and a growing number of community leaders and San Jose residents who are working together in fierce opposition to this malignant initiative.
Please listen to the warning calls and let your neighbors know that the Evergreen Senior Homes Initiative goes too far. Help us chase away the Big Bad Wolf. For more information, and to enlist or volunteer, visit www.stopthedeception.com.
Shani Kleinhaus is an environmental advocate for the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, where she works to protect and promote wildlife habitats, and a member of the executive committee of the Sierra Club Loma Prieta Chapter. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside.