By Lloyd Alaban
Gov. Gavin Newsom will join San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and local labor leaders Thursday in downtown San Jose to sign legislation to fast-track affordable housing developments.
The legislation, Senate Bill 7, will allow cities and developers to move affordable housing projects quicker through an environmental review process, often a long procedure fraught with red tape.
The planned Google West project in downtown San Jose—the tech company’s massive 80-acre expansion into the core of San Jose—is expected to use provisions from the bill to build quickly. Google’s planned campus, which will face approval from the San Jose City Council on Tuesday, will include up to 13,519 housing units, a quarter of which would be affordable.
The effort will look to dig into the state and county’s housing crisis. Both Santa Clara County and San Jose have tried numerous ways to combat the housing crisis with affordable housing. Earlier this month, the county Board of Supervisors voted to allocate $350 million to build affordable housing and quickly-built housing to for homeless people amid the pandemic. Meanwhile, San Jose has mulled solutions for its own affordable housing shortages, such as densifying single-family neighborhoods.
Local labor advocates have long pushed for bypassing environmental analysis as the region’s housing prices continue to spiral upward and housing becomes less affordable for low-income residents and homeless residents.
Newsom approved $200 million in additional funding in October for Project Homekey, a program to house the homeless in interim housing centers. He praised three new emergency interim housing centers in San Jose that used the funds. But one of the housing projects, praised by state and local leaders during the pandemic, is the site of wage theft and hazardous conditions, according to interviews and documents obtained by San José Spotlight, calling into question the efficacy of building some housing projects so quickly. Such housing projects aim to put people in homes in months rather than years, which both Newsom and Liccardo hope will become a model for future fast-track housing developments.
This story will be updated.
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This article was originally published by The San José Spotlight.