City of San JoseSan José Mayor Sam Liccardo announced that after years of threats of lawsuits from the County of Santa Clara, the City of San José and the County have reached an agreement that will enable the realization of long-approved plans to build thousands more homes in North San José —with existing Council mandates to make at least 20% of those units affordable—to combat our housing crisis.

Despite worsening housing affordability in our Valley, no housing has been built in North San José in more than a decade, due to restrictions contained in a 2006 agreement between the County and Cities of Milpitas, Santa Clara and San José . Dialogue and negotiation with Milpitas and Santa Clara city officials yielded consensus to move forward with housing construction in North San José , but the County of Santa Clara continued to object and threatened to sue if the City failed to construct transportation improvements contemplated in that agreement sixteen years ago. During Tuesday’s Council meeting, the San José City Council will vote to approve a new settlement agreement after months of negotiation with the County.

“I’d like to thank the many advocates and regional organizations that pushed with us over the past several years through bureaucratic barriers to spur housing development in North San José , to enable transit-oriented housing near our existing BART and light rail stations,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo “We’re grateful to reach this moment where we can finally move forward to make our region more affordable, and less dependent on the automobile.”

Mayor Liccardo specifically acknowledged the good work of City and County staff, attorneys, and the efforts of Supervisor Otto Lee, Supervisor Cindy Chavez, and Councilmember David Cohen to participate in the negotiation with him. Mayor Liccardo has made it a key element of his housing agenda to resolve legal obstacles and move forward with housing construction in North San José , advocating frequently with regional organizations in press conferences, op-eds, and in negotiation with local officials.

In 2005, San José adopted the North San José Development Policy, adding 32,000 homes, more than 25 million square feet of office and industrial space, 3 million square feet of retail and commercial space and 1,000 hotel rooms. The County of Santa Clara and Cities of Milpitas and Santa Clara sued, asserting traffic impacts that would require additional study. Subsequently, the municipalities came to agreement to “phase” development with transportation improvements to accommodate concerns about the impacts of growth.

Growth did not come as a result, however. Since 2013, North San José has not seen a single housing development, exacerbating the region’s affordability crisis. San José has demonstrated its commitment to ensuring affordability of North San José’s future development, including adopting a policy requiring that 20% of the new housing constructed be rent-restricted, and affordable. In 2020, San José voters approved Measure E, which generated nearly $110 million last year alone that the Mayor and City Council will allocate towards the development of affordable housing citywide. The opportunity to connect new housing to the multi-billion dollar transit investments throughout the VTA light rail corridor along North 1st Street and around the nearby Berryessa BART station presents a unique opportunity for transit-oriented development in our city.

The proposed agreement can be viewed in its entirety at this link, and is summarized in this report from City Staff. San José is working to create a Valley made more affordable for its residents that also supports smart development near strong job centers and transportation hubs to lessen the impacts of commuting on our environment, our traffic congestion, and quality of life.

Thanks to the many advocates and regional organizations: Silicon Valley Leadership Group, SV@Home, California YIMBY, Housing Action Coalition,

Eden Housing, First Community Housing, Catalyze Silicon Valley, SPUR, Greenbelt Alliance, The California apartment association, and San Jose Chamber of Commerce.