Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Affordable Housing For San Jose


In a contentious meeting, San Jose took a first step Tuesday toward requiring developers to sell homes at below-market rates in an effort to boost affordable housing throughout the city.

Developers and property owners have slammed the proposal, arguing that a requirement to build affordable housing would cut into their profits, stifle development when the economy is already weak and force builders to go elsewhere.

But San Jose City Councilman Sam Liccardo, who proposed the idea, said creating more affordable housing won't hurt developers as much as help the disadvantaged.

"These are tough times undoubtedly for housing developers, but we also know these are tough times for people who need housing," Liccardo said. "But these hard times will change for housing developers. "It will continue to be a place where teachers, health care workers, police officers, have difficulty living here and contributing to the community because of high housing costs."

If San Jose were to adopt the housing policy, officials would not be breaking new ground. San Jose has built about 2,700 affordable units in redevelopment areas since 1980 and about 17,000 citywide.

7-4 vote

Developers, real estate agents and other business groups argued that a mandatory citywide affordable housing policy goes too far. The vote was 7-4 in favor of the proposal, with council members Pete Constant, Nancy Pyle, Dave Cortese and Pierluigi Oliverio in opposition.

Arcadia Homes' Brad Durga said his company has been doing business in San Jose for 50 years. "Any new fee, whether it is a park fee, a public works fee, especially a fee that has the magnitude of this, raises the question of can we afford to do this?"

Several social justice advocates contended that more affordable housing makes a broader statement about the city's values.

Oliverio's opposition

Requiring developers to sell some homes at below-market rates only drives up the price for the other units and prices out entry-level home buyers, he argued.