San Jose leaders clear path for new homes in Willow Glen
This overhead Google Maps image shows a one-acre lot in Willow Glen where a developer is proposing to build five new homes.

    San Jose leaders pushed forward plans for five new homes in the city’s upscale Willow Glen neighborhood.

    The San Jose City Council on Nov. 7 unanimously approved a request from Los Altos developer De Anza Properties to rezone a long, narrow one-acre lot at 1655 Lincoln Ave. to allow up to five new homes in the space where one currently sits.

    The request was on the council’s “consent calendar,” a portion of the meeting where items that are considered routine are voted on as a group. The council did not discuss the rezoning before approving it and it also approved the environmental review for the proposal.

    The proposed project by De Anza includes demolishing a current home at the edge of the lot fronting onto Lincoln Avenue.

    These clearances from the council represent the largest hurdles the developer needed to clear, but to enable the project to go forward, De Anza will also need to get future approvals for a development permit at a Planning Director’s hearing.

    District 6 Councilmember Dev Davis, who represents the area where the project is proposed, said she supports the expansion.

    “This is just an infill development,” Davis told San José Spotlight. “It’s just a way for us to get some additional single family homes into our housing stock.”

    Davis said she also thinks the new homes will fit in with the surrounding neighborhood.

    “In my conversations with the developer, that’s very much what they wanted to do. They wanted to add some homes to the housing stock, and do so in a way that’s not just palatable to the neighbors but in keeping with what’s already in the neighborhood,” she said.

    Some neighbors wrote to city planners over the last year about the project, raising a variety of concerns.

    They worry the new homes would be too close to their existing homes and would create more crowding on Lincoln Avenue — and therefore should require a traffic study. Others said it is too much development for the neighborhood.

    Some also said the project will ruin existing residents’ views and will result in the loss of several trees.

    A developer’s representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

    During the Oct. 10 Planning Commission hearing for the project, Commissioner Pierluigi Oliverio noted the project can’t be rejected by the city without risking litigation because it is being streamlined through the approval process under SB 330.

    That 2019 state law was designed to ensure housing projects aren’t arbitrarily blocked or downsized, in an effort to address the housing crisis. Oliverio took issue with the law’s use for this project.

    “SB 330 was passed under the guise of providing affordability,” Oliverio said at the meeting. “These houses will sell for $3 million each. There’s no affordability, it only just changes the neighborhood and makes an opportunity for someone who is speculating here.”

    Another aspect of SB 330 is anti-displacement. This requires a relocation plan be put in place for the tenant currently living in the home that is slated to be demolished before the project can proceed, city staff reports said.

    The city’s housing department will need to approve such a plan from the developer before the other permits and approvals can be considered.

    Contact Joseph Geha at [email protected] or @josephgeha16 on Twitter.

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