Op-Ed: Housing Crisis Can Only be Solved by Building More Houses

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 BuildersOpinions 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]

3 Comments

  1. OMG, the authors of this piece are owned by Berg and Keenan, the two zillionaires trying to convert industrial property into residential property.

    Talk about a windfall… they paid zip for the property and, with the conversion, the value will skyrocket.

    Moreover, it’s pure bulls**t that the homes will be affordable and are directed at seniors and veterans.

    Don’t believe their nonsense, VOTE NO ON MEASURE B.

  2. I hope you mean building more AFFORDABLE housing. The price of rents or buying something here is sending people out of this state in droves. Soon the rich will be the only ones living here. Sickening.

    • It really doesn’t matter what types of houses are built if done in conjunction with people leaving. However, abundant high-end housing lowers the demand for mid-tier housing, thus making a place for the middle class. With the middle-class buying houses, the high volume rental housing demand goes down, even with rental unit supply staying constant, the rent levels drop – hard.

      However, if you only make “affordable housing”, you attract more low-income residents. Since “affordable housing” implies encouraging developers to make less profit, or worse the state builds them, you will only see a very small number of units built (500 units, 1000?).

      Let’s say we can suspend human nature and low-income resident won’t move here looking to get in these affordable units and population stays flat, the high-end owned prices, the mid-tier owned prices don’t change, you only see a slight drop (the effect of 500 units) in high volume rental levels, it would be almost imperceptible.

      If you open up the regulations, chop the fees, and incentivize to build build build, everyone wins big. Rich pay excessive property tax on multimillion-dollar homes, the middle class gets a chance to own a decent 1970s track house, and rent returns to normalcy for everyone else. If you want the bay area to be a place everyone can live, it has to get passed it mental block on developers and its obsession with building dedicate “affordable housing.”

      Stop punishing profit and leverage it for social good.

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