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San Jose Needs 120,000 Apartments

Over 100,000 new apartments are needed in San Jose to bring down rents. Photo: SPUR

San Jose should build at least 120,000 new residential units over the next 30 years to address a crushing regional housing crisis, according to the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR). On Thursday August 24 the group published an alarming report detailing just how far behind Santa Clara County has fallen in constructing badly-needed housing. The median cost of renting an apartment has jumped by over 25 percent from 2011 to 2016 as the county and Bay Area fall further behind relative to a robust rate of growth in jobs.

Of the nine Bay Area counties, Santa Clara contributed the most to the region’s worsening jobs-housing imbalance from 2010 to 2015 in terms of total numbers, followed closely by San Francisco and Alameda counties. 171,000 jobs were created in Santa Clara County, while only 28,700 new housing units came online. The Bay Area as a whole is under-building housing by an even greater margin, with 546,000 new jobs but only 62,600 new housing units over the same period.

Rents in Santa Clara County have skyrocketed over the past five years. Image: SPUR

SPUR calls on San Jose, the region’s largest city both in population and geographic area, to ramp up the production of new housing to reach a total of 120,000 new apartments by 2040. The group urges the city to allow taller buildings and higher densities of housing developments in walkable locations served by bus and rail lines. Micro-units, secondary units, modular pre-fabricated units, and other “naturally affordable” types of living spaces are needed rather than the luxury condos preferred by San Jose’s downtown developers.

San Jose’s leadership has recently shown only tepid support for more affordable housing, the City Council having denied approval for several developments proposed on land currently zoned for commercial rather than residential use. Mayor Sam Liccardo opposed a proposal for affordable apartments for teachers, with ground-floor retail, where a lonely hair salon now sits.