Published Wednesday, June 26, 2002, in the San Jose Mercury News
Santa Clara mayor and council can take a bow for taking on the tough
problem of affordability
A problem as big as Silicon Valley's cost of housing has no single
solution, so every step in the right direction is worth
celebrating. In that spirit, a round of applause, please, for the city
of Santa Clara: Its mayor and council have agreed that instead of
spending the legally required 20 percent of redevelopment revenue on
affordable housing, they will spend 30 percent.
Santa Clara follows the example of San Jose, which now spends 30
percent of redevelopment money on housing and has been spending well
over the 20 percent minimum since the mid-1990s.
But more bows are in order. Santa Clara's decision was in response to
a campaign by the Housing Action Coalition and Working Partnerships
USA to persuade cities to implement better housing policies. The idea
is to not just show room for affordable housing on maps, but to help
get it built.
The Housing Action Coalition is an effective collaboration of
industrial, environmental and other interests advocating more housing
near jobs and transit, and more affordable housing. Working
Partnerships is a labor think tank with similar views.
Milpitas and Palo Alto may consider upping their redevelopment
spending on housing. Both should follow through as Santa Clara
did. Mountain View and Morgan Hill were not receptive to the
idea. They should reconsider.
Not long ago, housing was seen as a side benefit of redevelopment,
whose purpose is stimulating economic growth. Today, the lack of
affordable housing near jobs is a major barrier to business
development. Allocating more redevelopment revenue toward housing is
wise not just for social reasons, but for business and industry as