Opportunity Housing victory

Wonderful news regarding CITYWIDE Opportunity Housing!!

It takes a village and the San Jose village rose to the occasion.

Thanks in large part to community input, an overwhelming majority of the Envision San Jose 2040 Task Force voted after 4+ hours of discussion on 8/20/20 to recommend Opportunity Housing CITYWIDE.

Community members supported Opportunity Housing CITYWIDE via (1) online petitions hosted on SanJoseUnited.net and SV@Home, (2) letters, and (3) verbal comment during two Envision San Jose 2040 Task Force meetings.

Vice Chair of the San Jose Planning Commission Rolando Bonilla and Task Force member Juan Estrada wrote an op-ed that ran in San Jose Spotlight.

Task Force members each also wrote letters in support: Jessie O’Malley Solis, Leslye Corsiglia and Andre Luthard (joint letter), Jesus Flores, and Juan Estrada.

Many Task Force members individually rallied support. Megan Fluke and other Task Force members raised community awareness. Megan notes that Leslye Corsiglia, Juan Estrada, and Shiloh Andrade Ballard deserve credit for leadership on this issue. She further credits “Mary Jessie Celestin and the amazing San Jose Strong community who volunteered to design some graphics leading up to tonight’s meeting with the support and policy know-how of Silicon Valley at Home.”

At the 8/20/20 meeting, Ray Bramson initially referenced a motion for Opportunity Housing CITYWIDE. Juan Estrada followed up with the CITYWIDE motion, seconded by Task Force member and City of San Jose Council member Sylvia Arenas, that was ultimately voted upon. The actual motion wording is below.


I motion to have the Task Force recommend allowing up to four units on parcels with a Residential Neighborhood land use designation citywide and to proceed with the subsequent steps identified by city staff in the 8/13/20 memo to the Task Force with the subject line “August 20, 2020 TASK FORCE MEETING”.

SUBSEQUENT STEPS OUTLINED by Task Force staff in the 8/13/20 memo:

“Should City Council direct staff to further explore Opportunity Housing, the following actions will need to be initiated.

  1. Conduct a citywide community engagement effort:
    1. Work with community organizations and leaders to encourage participation and diverse representation reflective of San José in the outreach process.
  2. Explore creating an affordable housing incentive to encourage inclusion of units at affordable or moderately-priced levels in Opportunity Housing.
    1. Find an approach that would allow Opportunity Housing while also minimizing displacement risk:
  3. Conduct a Displacement Risk Analysis where Opportunity Housing would be implemented.
    1. Determine if existing City protections for renters (i.e., just causes for evictions under the Tenant Protection Ordinance, Ellis Act Ordinance relocation requirements) would be sufficient or are additional protections needed to minimize and discourage displacement. Consider additional protections for renters such as not allowing Opportunity Housing on properties that have withdrawn from the market through the Ellis Act Ordinance, are qualifying properties under the Apartment Rent Ordinance, and have been occupied by renters in recent years.
    2. Consider additional restrictions for use of Opportunity Housing units as short term rentals, beyond the City’s existing ordinance.
  4. Explore strategies to preserve historic areas and properties while also allowing Opportunity Housing:
    1. Consider allowing the adaptive reuse of structures that are on or are eligible for inclusion on the City of San José’s Historic Resources Inventory.
    2. Consider an age-based rule for older homes applying for Opportunity Housing if updates to the Historic Resources Inventory are not completed by the time of implementation.
  5. Update City policies and ordinances to allow Opportunity Housing:
    1. Update the Citywide Design Guidelines and Standards to include Opportunity Housing design standards that ensure that Opportunity Housing projects are designed to be compatible with existing neighborhoods.
    2. Revise the General Plan and Zoning Code to allow and facilitate Opportunity Housing while maintaining the intent for Opportunity Housing to blend in with the existing neighborhood.”

As a reminder, the Task Force recommendation on Opportunity Housing will be packaged with all other recommendations on the General Plan 4-Year Review Scope of Work and presented to Council in spring 2021. Should the Task Force take action to recommend that City Council move forward with Opportunity Housing conceptual policy framework, staff will also conduct a Cost Effectiveness Analysis to determine the feasibility and cost of Opportunity Housing types and present the results to the City Council in spring 2021. Should the City Council approve the recommendation on Opportunity Housing, then staff would initiate the actions listed in items 1 through 5 above. Upon completion, these items will be presented to City Council for their approval.

Environmental analysis of the Opportunity Housing conceptual policy framework will be conducted programmatically as part of the General Plan 4-Year Review process. However, an in-depth environmental analysis would be completed as part of the General Plan Housing Element update which will be initiated in 2021. The Opportunity Housing action item work plan and the General Plan Housing Element update will run concurrently. Staff anticipates the Opportunity Housing work plan to be aligned with the mandated General Plan Housing Element update completion by December 2022.”