In June of 2023 the San José City Council moved to adopt their housing element prior to state certification from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). HAC, alongside our coalition partners, firmly advocated against the city’s decision. However, San José’s staff felt confident that the housing plan they drafted met the state’s requirements and would be certified by HCD; if revisions were needed, they would be minor. Yet on August 28th, HCD sent the city a 9-page rejection letter, highlighting a number of issues with the housing element draft they sent.
Echoing HCD’s comments, HAC and other advocacy groups identified concerns with the site inventory methodology, lack of clarity in the policies and programs, as well as the lack of community outreach in the June draft. The city’s current plan is to make revisions based on HCD’s feedback, and resubmit their housing element at the end of October. The October deadline is the city’s last attempt to be certified before losing out on a $25 million MTC grant.
Because of the short timeline, the city has decided to forgo any substantial changes that would trigger a new EIR, and thus result in the housing element going back to council or the planning commission. HAC and others have raised concerns about how this decision may result in another rejection, and that forgoing an EIR may prohibit the city from making the changes they need to meet legal compliance.
In other words, HAC’s concern is that the city may not be making significant enough changes to adequately address the concerns raised in HCD’s rejection letter.
HAC and other housing advocates have been working to try to support the city in meeting their deadline through a series of negotiations for housing element improvements. We will determine in the next few weeks whether the city has made enough changes to render their element legally compliant and gain our support.