San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo on Monday unveiled an ambitious plan to build 25,000 new homes—with 40 percent of them below-market-rate—over the next five years. The 15-point proposal would far outpace the rate of new housing construction for any half-decade in the city’s history, officials said.
“The Bay Area housing crisis affects residents across the income spectrum, from the homeless to our high-tech workforce,” Liccardo said in a press release. “This plan provides a roadmap for accelerating the development of new housing in ways that are both smart and sustainable for our community. While achieving our goal will not be easy, we must think big and act boldly to address this growing crisis.”
It’s a tall order, but Liccardo said he hopes the city could team up with the private sector and drum up new funding sources to make it happen.
Topping the mayor’s plan are proposals to finance homes for the “missing middle”—teachers, firefighters and nurses—and expanding housing for students, faculty and staff at San Jose State University. He also recommends doubling down on downtown development and offering even more tax breaks to spur new investment.
Also included is a directive to generate new revenue through an “empty home fee,” higher affordability requirements and Redevelopment Agency-style tax-increment financing. There’s no mention of a commercial linkage fee, which other cities have adopted to require corporations to pay for the housing demand created by the jobs they bring.
Liccardo, who voted against an affordable teacher housing project earlier this year, said he wants the city to partner with school districts to make housing land available for educators. He also suggests working with CalTrans to find homeless housing sites, renovating struggling business districts and building more homes around transit hubs. The blueprint also calls for more secondary “granny units” and helping developers find suitable sites for new housing.
Notably, Liccardo also cites the importance of preventing displacement, which the city has failed to prioritize in the past. As a result, there’s no clear accounting of how many people have been pushed out of their homes because of new development, and no study on how much it has contributed to San Jose’s alarmingly large homeless population.
Though the mayor has resisted converting jobs land for housing, one of the bullet points mentions nixing “zoning barriers” to redevelop “bars, liquor stores, massage parlors, bail bonds, and other complaint-inducing uses” into mixed-use housing.
Finally, the plan also calls for regional buy-in, figuring out ways to encourage nearby cities to build their fair share of housing, too, instead of expecting San Jose to shoulder the burden of being Silicon Valley’s bedroom community.
A summary of the mayor’s proposal is listed below. To read his memo on the plan, which comes up for review at Wednesday’s Rules and Open Government Committee, click here.
- Financing housing for our Missing Middle. Craft a private-public financing mechanism for rent-restricted housing for modest and middle income workers, such as teachers, nurses, and police officers struggling with high living costs.
- Expand Housing for Students, Faculty, & Staff at SJSU. Focus on our future by making college more affordable, and teaching a more financially viable career, with SJSU’s help.
- Partner on Teacher Housing Projects. Encourage school districts to make district-owned land available for construction of affordable housing for teachers and staff.
- Better Utilize CalTrans Land for Homeless Housing. Work with CalTrans on sites they have identified to develop additional housing for the homeless, and identify other underutilized publicly owned land.
- Revitalize Struggling Business Districts. Encourage mixed-use developments that integrate housing that can create needed foot traffic in several declining neighborhood business districts.
- Double Down on Downtown. Eliminating constraints in development guidelines can facilitate more housing in towers adjacent to new transit, adding vitality to our core without the burden of freeway traffic.
- Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing in North San Jose. Eliminating longstanding legal hurdles can enable construction of 2,400 affordable homes adjacent to light rail and BART stations in North San Jose.
- Encourage Secondary Units. With loosened regulations to encourage homeowners to build secondary units on their lots, the Housing Trust’s new pilot program can enable broader awareness of this opportunity.
- Protect Residents from Displacement. Focusing on expanding housing where it doesn’t currently exist with affordability requirements can ensure that new housing doesn’t push out vulnerable current tenants.
- Move Urban Villages with Existing Transit to the Front of the Line. Accelerating housing in those urban villages that already have light-rail and bus rapid-transit stops can enable housing development without the same road congestion.
- Better Identify Housing Sites to Prospective Developers. Scrap the redundant layers of zoning and land use designations, and create new on-line tools to help small developers identify the hard-to-find existing in-fill housing opportunity sites.
- Re-evaluate Fees to Encourage Construction. Calculate and collect development fees in ways that encourage new housing construction while ensure developers pay their fair share for parks, roads, and other needs.
- Incentivize Neighboring Cities to Do Their Share. Incentivize our surrounding jobs-heavy suburban cities to bear their responsibility for building housing through changes in regional transportation funding and fee formulas.
- Generate More Funding for Affordable Housing. Explore options to increase funding for affordability, such as an ‘empty home fee,’ higher affordability requirements for general plan changes, and tax-increment financing.
- Redevelop Nuisance Properties. Eliminate zoning barriers to enable transformation of bars, liquor stores, massage parlors, bail bonds, and other complaint-inducing uses to community-serving, mixed-use housing.
— Sam Liccardo (@sliccardo) October 2, 2017