San Jose’s City Council will vote this week on whether to include rebuttal arguments on the ballot for the controversial Evergreen senior homes initiative. The estimated cost for the ballot measure comes to $416,348, which includes the price of including impartial analysis, ballot arguments, a rebuttal and a summary of the initiative.
Including the full text of the measure—all 367 pages of it—would add another $8.4 million to the total cost, according to Santa Clara County’s Registrar of Voters. To save money, the city is considering a summary statement and instructions on where to find the full text online.
The city has already budgeted about $1.8 million from the general fund for election costs this year, which covers the June 5 election for five council districts, the mayor’s race and the Evergreen housing measure.
City officials vehemently oppose the Evergreen initiative, which seeks voter approval to build 910 homes for seniors—with 20 percent reserved for below market rate units with a preference for veterans—on 200 acres of land in San Jose’s east foothills. Specifically, the initiative would add language to the city’s Envision San Jose 2040 general plan to create a “senior housing overlay” that amends the Evergreen-East Hills Development Policy.
While proponents have been pitching the measure in campaign mailers as a way to address the affordable housing crisis by building up supply, opponents say it’s a disingenuous attempt to circumvent the city’s planning process.
The proposal has been met by fierce opposition from local elected officials, who say it would undermine San Jose’s blueprint for future growth by rezoning valuable commercial land for residential use. Because jobs generate more local tax revenue than housing, San Jose has tried to prioritize commercial development.
If voters approve the measure, that would put the San Jose on the hook to build pricey infrastructure and fund city services to an area too remote to make it cost effective, according to an economic analysis conducted by the city. The analysis released last month found that building commercial development on the property would yield 11,567 more ongoing jobs, $1.2 billion more a year in labor income and $3.5 billion in annual business output than the senior housing proposal.
Mayor Sam Liccardo and environmental groups fear the initiative would set a precedent for other developers and pave the way for construction in Coyote Valley just south of Evergreen. The Santa Clara County Democratic Party’s central committee last week voted last week to officially oppose the measure, which is backed by wealthy developers Carl Berg and Chop Keenan.
Liccardo, meanwhile, has proposed a counter-measure to limit sprawl. If the council votes to place it on the June 5 ballot and voters approve it, the initiative would amend the city charter to limit sprawl on properties that are five or more acres and within a mile inside the urban growth boundary. It would do so by requiring developers who want to convert jobs land to submit the project for a cost-benefit analysis to determine how it would affect city tax revenue.
More from the San Jose City Council agenda for March 6, 2018:
- The California Department of Social Services granted $5.4 million to the city for staffing and programs to help the hundreds of low-income residents displaced by last year’s Coyote Creek flood. In the year since the Anderson Dam overflowed, San Jose has funded case management for 235 households displaced by the flood and helped 214 return home or find a new place to live. The city paid $414,485 to repair exterior damage to 78 mobile homes and finalized 86 building permits in impacted neighborhoods. It also paid $116,000 in grants to 19 landlords who allowed 97 flood victims to return to their rentals. Despite those efforts, the nonprofit Catholic Charities continues to support 17 families who are living in subsidized apartments and one that’s staying in a motel.
WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260