San Jose City Council to Consider SCU Teacher Housing Project

If you’re a teacher in Silicon Valley, you know the average salary is far from enough to afford living here. But a unique proposal going before the San Jose City Council Tuesday aims to give instructors at Santa Clara University a way to weather the affordability crisis.

The project on the agenda this week looks to put about 300 residential units in a 20,000-square-foot building on a few-acre plot off of Campbell Avenue—close to SCU, but on the San Jose side of the Santa Clara border.

Housing would be reserved for instructors and other staff members at the university, whose employment numbers have been dwindling due to the cost of living, according to the Jesuit university. In addition to SCU staff, the project would house faculty from nearby Jesuit high schools Bellarmine College Prep and Cristo Rey.

“SCU and Bellarmine are finding it more difficult to recruit and retain staff due to high housing cost and low availability of affordable options,” according to a city memo outlining the proposal.

San Jose’s housing staff last month recommended rejecting the proposal because the site would be better used for industrial use, according to the Mercury News. But the Planning Commission voted 4-2 in April against staff guidance. Right now, the Campbell Avenue site houses an environmental company with scores of employees and warehouse space.

The proposal coming up for review this week would reserve 85 percent of its housing units for below-market rate and 15 percent for very low-income housing.

Anna Han, the interim dean at SCU’s law school, said the university is exploring “various possible methods to guarantee affordability,” but admits there is no plan yet to determine which staff members are eligible for below-market-rate housing. According to Han, the project will receive no housing subsidies from the city.

More from San Jose City Council agenda for May 14, 2019:

  • Also up for review: a proposal to rezone 9.3 acres in the Alum Rock area to accommodate a new parking lot. The site now houses the Alum Rock Transit Center, a senior housing complex and a multi-family development. Monte Vista Community Partners, LP, which owns the multi-family development, first proposed an expanded parking lot for the property in December 2017 to meet city standards for parking spaces next to developments. The proposal was originally rejected by the city, but a slightly revised proposal with the required number of parking spaces—249 according to city regulations for the amount of bedrooms on the property—is back up for consideration.
  •  Also on the agenda is a plan to rezone a 9.26 acre site on Fortune Drive near Lundy Place. Coined the TEC Transit Employment Center Zoning District, the proposed rezoning would turn the lot, currently surrounded by office space, into a mixed-use office building.
  • A local union tried to appeal the environmental review for a demolition of a one-story office building that would clear the way for a 22-story residential tower. Staff recommends that the council deny the appeal from the Laborers International Union of North America, Local Union 270.

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260


  1. All of the SCU and Bellarmine staff members should qualify for “Free Housing.”
    Good project, lousy location.
    The only people who could screw this good idea up is anyone from the San Jose Department of Housing-keep these people completely away from this project.
    David S. Wall

  2. > San Jose City Council to Consider SCU Teacher Housing Project

    > The proposal coming up for review this week would reserve 85 percent of its housing units for below-market rate and 15 percent for very low-income housing.

    A dumb idea, especially for an educational institution with an economics department and a business school.

    But . . . .

    > the project will receive no housing subsidies from the city.

    If the city really feels the need to meddle in the affairs of private educational institutions, it should pass laws prohibiting Santa Clara University from enrolling or teaching any student who takes out student loans for any classes of degree program which does not make the student IMMEDIATELY employable.

  3. So the City of San Jose is going out of its way to use public resources for the benefit of a PRIVATE university and a PRIVATE high school.

    The optics on this are ridiculous, and whoever votes for it should pay a political price. Private institutions with influential political and business connections seeking subsidization from the gov’t because they are failing to attract and retain enough employees. As a private business, that is their problem to deal with, and as Hoapres stated in his comment, the solution to that problem is to raise salaries. I have always known SCU to have a reputation as a rich kid school, and many prominent members of the SJ business community are SCU alumni. This is even more true of Bellarmine, a school that has produced the most elite and privileged members of the valley, including our Mayor Sam Liccardo. It is a ridiculous display of favoritism that the city is considering going out of their way to support private institutions (with religious affiliations — how does that not count as a violation of the separation of church and state?) that are fully capable of supporting themselves when our public teachers who aren’t raising the next generation of campaign donors are left to fend for themselves. The fact that is goes against the recommendation of city staff is the cherry on top.

    • This isn’t use of public resources. It’s just a question of zoning. The University owns the property. They want to build something on it that isn’t currently allowed under San Jose zoning. So they are asking the city to allow them to change the use of the property from industrial to residential.

  4. Isn’t Santa Clara University located in SANTA CLARA. Why aren’t they coming up with a solution? They are far better off with all their high tech to do so than San Jose. Find a place in Santa Clara and ask their City Council to approve.

    • Solution to what? The problem here is that professors at SCU and teachers at Bellarmine can’t afford housing. Charter schools have nothing to do with the private University.

  5. You all should look at google earth at Campbell avenue. This area is all redeveloped with housing, and there is a few dilapidated warehouses in the middle of it. Pretty much a bad idea to keep dilapidated warehouses in the middle of housing. Seems like the planning commission has more common sense than City planning staff.

  6. I get the part that the University owns the land and wants to rezone so their teachers can be housed there. What I don’t understand is this housing will only benefit their employees but in doing so the City will lose tax money from businesses and jobs. Will the University have to pay property taxes and also pay for any land use construction taxes? Will they be required to do whatever is necessary for traffic and road improvements?

  7. Again over looking the obvious, if it’s to expensive here to educate then we should out source it to say Mumbai where you can get an education for a fraction of the cost here. They will be better educated and trained for a job in Silicon Valley. You could end the H1B visa program and hire an American. Then you could dump the homeless into those dilapidated warehouse where I used to make a living so I could buy a house and pay taxes to feed homeless people.

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