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Settlement Between City, County Allows for More Housing in North San Jose

Santa Clara County and city of San Jose officials finalized on Tuesday a monumental housing agreement that could bring in thousands of housing units to North San Jose.

Signed off unanimously by the San Jose City Council, the two jurisdictions resolved a decade-long legal disagreement that prevented San Jose from building housing developments in its northern region.

The settlement has the potential to bring in 32,000 new units of housing at various price points in North San Jose, local officials said. The agreement will allow the city and county to develop offices and housing spaces in two years’ time.

In 2005, San Jose drafted framework to reconstruct North San Jose as the city’s new hotspot for housing, offices, hotels and retail shops. But the plan came to a standstill after Santa Clara County and the cities of Santa Clara and Milpitas sued San Jose, alleging that the plan did not adequately consider how it would affect transportation facilities.

The involved parties eventually reached a settlement in 2006 that required the city to make several roadway improvements before building housing. It caused the city to abandon its plan and was the reason the neighborhood hasn’t seen new housing developments since 2014, city officials said.

As thousands of residents move out of the region because of increasing rent rates — and plenty of others ending up on the streets — local leaders said resolving this legal dispute was key to making promises of more housing in San Jose a reality.

San Jose City Councilman David Cohen said that without action, the city and county would inevitably be headed back to court.

“North San Jose is already the economic engine of Silicon Valley, home to many of the area’s big tech companies and startup incubators,” Cohen said. “As it continues to grow and flourish, North San Jose has the potential to bring new life to the city as it begins to evolve into a second downtown.”

Now, San Jose has pledged to reconfigure the intersection of Montague Expressway, Interstate 880, and the McCarthy Boulevard and O’Toole Avenue interchange by 2024 to mitigate traffic jams.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Otto Lee referred to the agreement as a “common sense solution” that both addresses the community’s transportation concerns and prevents costly lawsuits.

“Reaching this settlement was important,” Lee said at a news conference. “As we continue to build more housing in Silicon Valley, we must be mindful of all the impacts housing will have on transportation, infrastructure and traffic.”

Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez said the settlement couldn’t have happened without the help of new local leaders, notably Cohen and Lee, who wanted to drop legal battles to address a mutual priority for the region’s jurisdiction — housing.

“It’s going to allow for the construction and development of exactly what we need for our community,” Chavez said at a news conference on Monday.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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