It’s no secret that the hottest housing market in the country is also experiencing an unprecedented housing crisis. San Jose has fallen significantly behind in adding housing—especially affordable housing—having met only seven percent of the overall goal to add 35,080 homes by October 2022.
Part of the reason is that the city of San Jose, under Mayor Sam Liccardo’s leadership, has stubbornly held onto a “jobs first” policy which has greatly hindered the ability to add housing; and many efforts to add housing have been rejected by the Council whether it’s tiny homes or housing for teachers.
The result is that San Jose now faces an unprecedented housing crisis. The politicians and elitist interest groups that helped create it are talking about the need for housing, yet have achieved very little. Moreover, the policy positions of the city actually work against their completely empty “many point plans” to add housing stock.
The latest example of this is the city sponsored charter amendment—Measure C—that would make it much harder to take lands that could be put to use housing people and instead mandating them be “employment lands.” These lands have been designated for employment for decades without any employer interest.
Perhaps as misdirected as the policy itself is the manner in which it was proposed. Measure C was prepared behind closed doors, in less than 72 hours, to compete against another measure that seeks to build a senior housing community on underutilized industrial land that promises affordable units and preferences for veterans.
The city overruled its own charter prohibitions on placing competing measures on the ballot through technicalities and the brute force of a city unconcerned with good government and due process of law.
To what end? In their zeal to defeat something they have proposed something far worse, a city charter amendment that makes it virtually impossible to build housing on the lands impacted by it.
This kind of politicking should disturb San Jose residents. Measure C’s origination is in conflict with the city’s open government ordinance and its aim to increase public access to information and to ensure government accountability. The hasty process by which Mayor Liccardo pushed Measure C through the City Council is concerning at best, and has been and likely will be the subject of costly litigation.
In fact, Measure C was crafted so quickly it’s likely to draw multiple lawsuits against the city, costing San Jose residents millions that would be better spent on vital services supporting schools, transportation, and affordable housing. Promoting a counter-Initiative that would negate a voter-approved Initiative is a desperate tactic that obscures the real issue: the city’s unwillingness to add desperately needed housing to San Jose.
Measure C only ensures that it will become even more difficult to build affordable housing in San Jose. The measure adds layers of red tape to any further residential development in San Jose while fueling job growth that has plenty of fuel already—in a city with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the U.S. The measure shows that the city continues to ignore those most in need, pushing away long-time residents, seniors, and veterans and welcoming employers with open arms and at the expense of the voters.
It is shocking that the San Jose City Council is pulling out all the stops to defeat a measure aimed at creating homes for those who are often overlooked in Silicon Valley. It is reprehensible that the manner in which they are trying to defeat one housing ballot initiative is through a hasty charter amendment that affects the entire city and that will worsen the housing crisis that our politicians have promised to address in their campaigns to get re-elected.
Actions matter more than words. Any politician who claims to be addressing the housing crisis and supporting Measure C has shown that their true aim is to hold their own seat by paying lip service to the needs of housing our community while actively developing and supporting policies that make building that housing even more difficult.
If we are going to continue to be a thriving economic region, we need to increase our housing stock, not create more bureaucracy to discourage it. This June, say no to corrupt back room policymaking and the empty promises of politicians.
Join us in voting NO on Measure C.
John Gamboa and Robert Apodaca work for California Community Builders. Opinions expressed in this article are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Want to submit an op-ed? Email pitches to [email protected].