San Jose: Lawmaker calls for public discussion about displacement
The sidewalk along 6th St. at the new Facet housing development site by Shea Properties and SWENSON Builders. Photo by Kyle Martin.

San Jose officials spent nearly a year studying displacement with a national research institute and now one lawmaker is ready to make the findings public.

East San Jose Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco on Wednesday asked her colleagues to schedule a study session in late August on the topic. The city is expected to unveil a citywide anti-displacement strategy by the end of the year.

The purpose of the study session, Carrasco said, is to “give city councilmembers an overview of residential displacement occurring in San Jose” and to discuss efforts to prevent or mitigate displacement. San Jose since 2018 joined forces with PolicyLink, a prominent research and action institute that focuses on racial and economic equity.

San Jose was one of ten cities nationwide selected to take part in the initiative, which launched in March 2018, and includes cities such as Austin, Boston, Nashville and Denver. The city is also working with UC Berkeley’s Urban Displacement Project, which is currently studying the impacts of tenant protections such as rent control and a just-cause for evictions ordinance in Santa Clara County.

The university also analyzed regional data on housing, income and other demographics to understand and predict where gentrification and displacement is happening. The maps showed that housing affordability is changing rapidly and low-income residents are being displaced as housing costs increase.

Sixty-five percent of San Jose residents live in census tracts experiencing early stages of displacement. The remaining 35 percent live in areas at risk of displacement or currently undergoing displacement.

A city report that looked at impediments to fair housing found that displacement in San Jose is largely linked to economic pressures due to rising housing costs.

“The displacement is expected to continue, particularly in neighborhoods with accelerating growth and new development,” the report said, adding that the UC Berkeley data found that “more than half of low-income households live in neighborhoods at risk of or already experiencing displacement and gentrification pressures.”

The report pointed to several neighborhoods such as Japantown, Luna Park and Little Portugal as having experienced advanced
gentrification. “Most of Central and East San José, as well as several areas of South San Jose are currently undergoing or at risk of gentrification,” it added.

The report also listed “a lack of tenant eviction protection and tenant education” as an impediment to fair housing, citing community feedback from residents who demanded stronger tenant protections and local rent stabilization ordinances.

A recent records request from San José Spotlight found that City Hall received more than 12,800 notices from landlords intending to evict tenants since the city passed a just cause ordinance two years ago. The top reason for evictions in San Jose was nonpayment of rent.

Carrasco’s proposal to discuss the findings in a public study session in Aug. 29 was approved by a council committee on Wednesday. The longtime lawmaker said the meeting should involve “both policy experts and people whose lives have been impacted by the rising cost of housing and displacement.”

“The study session will provide the foundation for a draft (Anti-Displacement) Strategy that staff expects to bring to the City Council in late 2019,” according to city records.

 

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