After more than two years of work, San Jose officials have put forth the first set of recommendations for the city’s anti-displacement measures.
The proposed policy, which comes up for discussion at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, focuses on what the city calls the three P’s: produce housing at all income levels, preserve affordable homes that already exist and protect residents from displacement.
In 2018, San Jose joined forces with PolicyLink, a research firm that focuses on economic and racial equity, as part of the All-In Cities Anti-Displacement Policy Network. Earlier this year, city officials—in conjunction with numerous community and non-profit partners—released its community strategy report for ending displacement in San Jose.
The 80-page report focused on households of four that make less than $104,000 per year, which is 80 percent of the area median income. Through a survey of 328 San Jose residents, the team found that 40 percent of the respondents had been displaced in the past. Out of that 40 percent, 60 percent said they no longer live in San Jose and 50 percent said the reason they were displaced was due to being unable to afford rent.
Since then, the city of San Jose has held numerous community meetings to help craft its anti-displacement strategy. On Tuesday, the San Jose City Council will review the following 10 recommendations from city officials:
- Support equitable Covid-19 recovery and mitigate the impact on renters and homeowners.
- Establish a neighborhood tenant preference for affordable housing. Tenant preferences allocate a certain percentage of affordable units in residential rental developments for people who meet certain income criteria.
- Explore a Community Opportunity to Purchase Program/Ordinance (COPA). Creating a COPA would give nonprofit developers, tenant organizations and other public agencies advance notice of the sale of multifamily residential properties so that they could have the first opportunity to purchase the property and turn it into affordable housing.
- Increase the representation of historically underrepresented communities on city commissions.
- Create a role for local government in state tenant protections by reforming AB 1482. The newly enacted law, which prevents rent spikes and requires just cause for evictions, covers more homes than the city’s Apartment Rent Ordinance. However, the only way to enforce it is by suing under state law. City officials are recommending that San Jose sponsor legislation “for local education and enforcement to help increase understanding and compliance with AB 1482 and how it interacts with the city's ordinances.”
- Increase housing quality and prevent code enforcement-related displacement.
- Create a preservation report and policy.
- Develop a “Yes in God’s Backyard” land use by amending the city’s zoning codes to “allow 100 percent deed-restrict affordable housing under the Public Quasi Public General Plan land use designation and zoning district, when such residential uses are developed as a secondary use in conjunction with the primary use of the property for assembly uses.” This would allow places like churches to develop affordable housing sites on their land.
- Optimize urban villages for affordable housing development and anti-displacement.
- Establish new sources of funding for affordable housing and anti-displacement.
In memos issued a few days ahead of the discussion, council members Sergio Jimenez, Raul Peralez, Magdalena Carrasco, Maya Esparza and Sylvia Arenas asked that the city collaborate with the newly-established Office of Racial Equity in implementing the new strategy. They also asked that city staff explore possible uses for unspent CARES Act dollars to support San Jose’s work around Covid-19 recovery.
“This is truly an unprecedented crisis for our communities of color, and while we as a city have made substantial efforts to assist these communities, through our eviction moratorium, through guaranteeing paid sick leave, and through partnering with other organizations to provide direct assistance and food security, the painful reality is that these are temporary bandages on wounds that are much deeper,” they wrote in the joint memo. “If we do not act strategically and aggressively right now, we are going to see severe displacement and despair in our most vulnerable communities.”
The anti-displacement strategy is scheduled to be heard after 5pm Tuesday.