Smart Growth is San Jose's Best Future, not the Four-Plex Plan

San José City Council

There is a proposal coming to the City Council called "Opportunity Housing" which would allow developers to, without public input, build four-plexes in all single-family neighborhoods. While well-intentioned, I am urging my colleagues to reject it.

The four-plex plan will put a strain on suburban infrastructure, increase traffic, worsen air pollution, and displace low income residents. There is a better way.

I am asking the City Council instead to embrace my plan: Smart Growth San José. In order to address the housing crisis, we need to build a lot of dense housing, but in places where it makes sense: near transit, jobs, and infrastructure -- not indiscriminately in the suburbs.

City Hall must focus on our urban village strategy, which designates 68 locations with appropriate infrastructure to support dense housing development. These urban villages are meant to be walkable communities connected to public transportation, retail, and commercial spaces. The City's General Plan 2040 (the City Council-approved plan to support population growth in the coming decades) is built around these urban villages and plans to add 120,000 new housing units.

Nevertheless, only 13 of these 68 urban village sites have had development approved, and none have even begun construction. We need to hold the bureaucracy accountable for executing the urban village plan and build the housing San José needs. We need to, among other reforms:

  • Pre-approve urban village projects so that applications to develop take weeks, not years.
  • Establish a "money-back guarantee" for the Planning Department -- if they are late in issuing a permit or inspection, the applicant should have the fee reduced or waived.
  • Address the shortage of skilled construction workers by creating training programs at local community colleges.
  • Incentivize innovative low-cost housing methods like modular units or 3-D printing.

Sign our petition to show the City Council that there is a better way. We need smart growth to build lots of dense, urban housing -- not the four-plex plan. Together, we can bring common sense back to City Hall.

Thank you,

Matt Mahan, San José City Councilmember

For a more in-depth description, please read my blog post and these articles in the San José Mercury News & San José Spotlight.


Petition by
Councilmember Matt Mahan
San Jose, California

To: San José City Council
From: [Your Name]

Please approve Councilmember Matt Mahan's Smart Growth San José proposal. We must be strategic and build housing where it makes sense, in urban villages served by transit, jobs, and infrastructure. Indiscriminate four-plex developments in single-family neighborhoods will increase traffic, worsen air pollution, and displace low-income residents.