San Jose approves fee cut for commercial developers

Measure will decrease fees in exchange for more affordable housing

Mayor Sam Liccardo (Getty, iStock)
Mayor Sam Liccardo (Getty, iStock)

San Jose agreed to cut fees for developers who provide affordable housing, as long as they are paid in full prior to construction.

The City Council unanimously approved a measure that eases so-called commercial linkage fees by 20 percent, the San Jose Spotlight and Silicon Valley Business Journal reported. The fees, which generate more than $6 million a year, are determined by the square footage of a project.

Mayor Sam Liccardo said the change would encourage development that brings jobs while also addressing the housing shortage.

“We all want more resources for affordable housing,” the mayor said. “Yet how we impose fees and taxes matters. Our goal must be to get the golden eggs — the affordable housing and the jobs — without killing the ‘goose’ of development.”

About 30 affordable housing advocates from organizations such as the South Bay Labor Council, SOMOS Mayfair and the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley marched to City Hall from the Mexican Heritage Plaza to protest the council’s decision.

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Councilmember Dev Davis

“Having the fee be too low means we are not generating revenue for affordable housing at a rate that reflects the impact that commercial development has,” Andrea Portillo, program manager for SOMOS Mayfair, told council members.

Yet high fees could discourage development that San Jose needs, said District 6 council member Dev Davis.

“We don’t want to squash projects before they begin,” Davis said. “We have to get out of our own way, encourage commercial development and provide as much flexibility as possible.”

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[SJS | SVBJ] — Victoria Pruitt