On any given day, you are exposed to news stories about our community’s housing shortage.
The complications of building adequate housing is like solving a Rubik’s Cube puzzle.
At every corner of the development process there is another twist and turn that boggles the mind.
In Santa Clara, even remodeling a single-family home can be a Nightmare on Elm Street and a few other streets as well.
You not only have to deal with the planning and permit department, architects, designers, engineers and City Council approval but neighborhood approval as well.
If your home remodel doesn’t conform to neighborhood “standards,” the neighbors can shut you down.
Multiply these issues by a hundred for developers who would like to contribute to solving the housing crisis. One year ago, we had 18,000 housing units on the City’s drawing board with only a few thousand completed.
There hasn’t been a lot of new inventory reaching completion due to “complications.”
Irvine Company was one of the first to be squeezed when their 400-unit project near Santa Clara University was cut back to 320 units under neighborhood pressure. The project didn’t pencil out and they walked away.
Prometheus was thought to have a slam dunk housing project on the old Moonlight Lanes Bowling site. However, when a few hundred neighbors organized in opposition, they were forced back to the drawing board.
John Sobrato, the legend of Santa Clara developers, was met by hundreds of angry homeowners last week over the idea of providing homeless housing in their neighborhood at San Tomas and Monroe.
It seems that everyone wants to protest about the lack of housing except those who have a home.
Homeowners have a point. In fact, several.
Santa Clara residents who have been here a while have enjoyed a very special culture. We have all been spoiled by the visionary planning of our past City leaders. Industrial and commercial buildings were located North of the railroad tracks. Residential was located South.
Residential was primarily low rise single-family homes and apartments.
It would be fair to say we were a sleepy little town South of the tracks with an economic powerhouse to the North. Our Northside created the jobs and the South provided the housing.
Little did we realize what our economic engine would produce. Little startup companies became world-known brands, producing products, services and jobs by the tens of thousands.
Santa Clara became an even more desirable place to live and work. However, our engine was producing more jobs than we could house. We have not solved this issue. Our jobs housing balance has been out of whack for years and continues to grow.
We have now used or assigned our available ground. Without more ground to build on we either build down or build up. Most home seekers aren’t inspired by living under ground and most residents aren’t thrilled with the idea of a city of high rise apartments and condos.
Consider that compromise and collaboration are the keys to compatibility.
Homeowners in high rises have the same concerns as homeowners in single family houses. They want to work, raise their family and have their kids play soccer and little league.
Imagine that: good neighbors that just want to be homeowners.