What you should know about the “senior homes” initiative

Oct 12, 2017

Last month, lawyers hired by wealthy developers filed “notice of intent” with the City Clerk to begin collecting signatures for a ballot measure that they call the “Evergreen Senior Homes Initiative.”

The proposal claims to create affordable housing for seniors and veterans, an objective with which no one can take issue. The problem is that this proposal is far more  –  and far different  – than what it claims to be.

As we’ve begun to analyze this 300+ page proposal, it has become increasingly clear that these wealthy developers have created an extremely misleading initiative that circumvents the rules everyone else must follow and will have detrimental impacts on our residents. For example:

  • While the initiative makes several references to “veterans housing,” it includes no enforceable commitments to ensure that any veteran will actually live in one of these homes.
  • While these developers have framed their initiative as a proposal for affordable housing, they are actually proposing to build a gated community in Evergreen made up of predominantly single-family homes, at market price (in today’s dollars, $1 million or more).
  • While the initiative calls for constructing some affordable apartments, they’ve actually watered down San Jose’s existing affordable housing requirements in ways that greatly limit- the number of homes available to San Jose’s low-income families.
  • Despite the gridlock choking the Evergreen area, this initiative exempts the developers from paying the required traffic impact fees that all other developers have to pay to reduce traffic congestion.
  • Although framed as “senior housing,” the initiative would enable any 55-year old executive with teenagers to buy one of these homes, which will generate similar traffic impacts as other single-family housing developments.
  • By taking their plan straight to the ballot box, they are bypassing the established community engagement process by which surrounding neighbors, and any other concerned residents, can offer their input to help shape new development projects.

These facts all point to the heart of this initiative: a group of wealthy developers seek to enrich themselves by creating a different set of rules for themselves than the rules by which everyone else abides. Their proposal would significantly alter the City’s existing General Plan (which was the product of input from more than 5,000 San Jose residents) in favor of some new, more profitable development guidelines that they literally wrote by themselves, for themselves.

Finally, it’s worth noting that some of the elements proposed by the initiative would apply citywide. As a result, beyond the impacts on our Evergreen neighborhoods, this initiative could have serious ramifications — and could spur a host of similar new developments — in neighborhoods and communities across the city that could undermine San Jose’s job base and destroy open spaces and hillsides.

Please visit www.sjmayor.org/BillionaireScheme to learn more about this initiative and the potential impacts on our community.

I also encourage you to read the recent Mercury News Editorial: “Evergreen homes initiative isn’t about housing shortage; it’s about greed” and the recent columns from Scott Herhold: San Jose’s senior homes measure is a bad idea. In addition, recent news articles from Ramona Giwargis and Josh Koehn provide more detailed accounts on the important issues at play in this proposed initiative.
If you have any questions or are looking for more information on this topic, please feel free to email my office at [email protected] so we can keep you updated as we continue to analyze this proposed initiative.
Thanks for taking the time to learn more about this critical issue.