“I could not bear to see or even think about the unnecessary and traumatizing separation of children from their parents,” she said of the foreseeable implementation of the president’s ethnic-cleansing campaign platform.
But on the most important local issue—housing—Davis and President Trump share the same conservative position against zoning reform.
Elected Republicans are now extinct in San Jose—and more California voters are registered as no party preference than GOP—but “get off my lawn” conservatism continues to suffocate state and local housing policy. California’s supposedly blue legislature couldn’t even legalize duplexes statewide, a naturally affordable housing type, while the seasonal, record-breaking fires turned the skies red.
As California’s legislature dithered, the president fear-mongered with tweets declaring “people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream ... will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood” and “[t]he suburban housewife will be voting for me. They want safety & are thrilled that I ended a long running program where low income housing would invade their neighborhood.”
Davis claims to be a “wonk” and a “data nerd.” Rumored to have mayoral ambitions, Davis was featured in a Content Magazine profile with the subhead “Transforming from suburban sprawl into a modern metropolis.” Davis’ diagnosis of The Problems splashed across an entire page: “We don’t have discrete problems in the Bay Area. We have a constellation of problems that are all related to each other.”
Every wonk knows the Bay Area’s constellation of problems—housing in-affordability, the homelessness catastrophe, traffic gridlock—is largely due to the imbalance between prolific job creation and the failure to legalize and build housing.
In her first term, Davis worsened the problems constellation. She supported Google’s proposed downtown campus to create over 20,000 new jobs inside and adjacent to her District 6, but opposed zoning reform to legalize more housing.
In August, San Jose's General Plan Task Force voted 22-12 to recommend the council legalize fourplexes in every neighborhood. Davis voted against it.
Davis’ campaign site highlights her “accomplishment” to “protect single-family home zoning”—protect from whom?—and lists the following second-term housing goals:
- Continue to fight to protect single-family home neighborhoods
- Fight homelessness and its impact
- Provide more affordable housing
- Provide housing the average person can afford
What, exactly, is the difference between “affordable housing” and “housing the average person can afford?” Davis’ unserious housing platform, as farcical as her wonk performance, is an exercise in triangulation between her Republican base, and voters who value compassion and inclusivity.
When a debate moderator at a recent event asked how to promote racial justice and social equity, Davis talked that talk, saying: “We have to first constantly educate ourselves, especially those of us who are white and make sure that people with lived-experience of racial inequalities are not the only ones doing the work. We also have to unravel centuries of institutional inequities.”
Perhaps Davis should educate herself about the racist origins of single-family home zoning or read this recent report finding it remains a “key driver of racial segregation in the Bay Area.” The report’s interactive map shows the “high” segregation of many census tracts in Davis’ District 6. Legalizing fourplexes would help unravel housing inequities in her own district, but Councilwoman Davis apparently only pretends to care about racial justice, just like she pretends to be a wonk.
Davis’ ally and District 6 predecessor, Pierluigi Oliverio, echoed the president’s suburb tweets in recent editorials predicting “chaos and conflict” because fourplex legalization might make street parking scarcer—heaven forfend!—and “housing units at a lower per-unit cost [would] denigrate the character of single-family home neighborhoods.”
Therefore, he goes on to state, such grievances amount to “flipping the bird to approximately 180,000 San Jose homeowners.” Unsurprisingly, Davis voted to appoint Oliverio to the Planning Commission where he flips the bird at affordable housing options and the desegregation they would bring.
At least Oliverio concedes that “profit-motivated buyers ... would make significantly more money with four or six units than with a single-family house.”
Translation: property values would increase in San Jose, already home to the country’s most equity-rich homeowners.
Trump, Oliverio, and Davis all know that white grievance has been, and remains, a potent political force throughout America. Their conservative base, full of gun-toting lunatics like the McCloskeys, feel disrespected when those people approach their lawn.
Behold the comments section below any perceptive housing editorial to find reply-guys like “Greg” blasting this “idiotic article” that supports fourplexes, which “shows zero consideration or respect for current homeowners and residents.” If only a brave wonk could enlighten conservatives that homeowners own their land, not the General Plan.
San Jose homeowners have begun to reckon with the dissonance between their oppositions to the white supremacist president and zoning reform. One homeowner admitted his fourplex concern—that denser housing would “degrade” his neighborhood—is a “very embarrassing and disturbing parallel” with the president’s racist demagoguery about suburb invasions.
Davis may oppose the displacement of Mexican immigrants from America’s lawn. But on the most important policy over which she has power, she supports aggrieved homeowners in their quest to maintain lawns unsullied by fourplex tenants, just like fellow housing conservative President Trump.
Both “protect” the suburbs from racial integration.
Jake Tonkel is challenging Davis in District 6. He surely isn’t a conservative, and, thus, can offer serious ideas to address the “unnecessary and traumatizing” conditions of the housing insecure and homeless. I am confident a critical mass of District 6 homeowners will reject Davis’ conservatism this November just as they will certainly reject our President. It doesn’t take a data nerd to see the obvious: if San Jose is going to allow new corporate campuses like Google’s, it must also legalize new housing nearby.