San Jose City Council unanimously accepts recommendations on overcoming barriers to affordable housing

By Jana Kadah, San Jose Spotlight, March 8, 2022

“On [March 8th], the City Council voted unanimously to accept recommendations based on interviews with seven developers and a detailed report highlighting three key barriers: construction costs, the permitting process, and complying with development regulations such as requirements for private open space … for each unit.

“Recommendations include creating internal coordination meetings between city departments to speed up the permitting process, creating an impact fee registry, exploring the effectiveness of cutting construction taxes, and making city-issued bonds more competitive.

“Mayor Sam Liccardo said he appreciated the recommendations, but worried the real barriers are outside of the city’s control.

“In the last three to five years, construction costs have increased significantly, [forcing] developers to rely on additional sources of funding to complete a project.

“Because San Jose is an expensive area, project costs are much higher, and developers do not benefit from the state credit, said Nanci Klein, city economic development director.

“Developers said they would want the same type of dedicated planner for construction permits [as Destination: Home received, funded by a 2018 grant], but the planning department doesn’t have capacity. So, [Jerad Ferguson, housing catalyst in the city’s Office of Economic Development, and his] team [plan] to establish regular meetings between the planning and housing departments to review active projects.

“Many developers also noted there are requirements [such as parking minimums] that make planning or building affordable housing much more difficult.

“ ‘We can do a lot of little things to remove … smaller barriers,’ Ferguson said. ‘It’s going to be an iterative, incremental process to get to improvements.’ ”

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