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What Will It Take to Fix San Jose's Housing Crisis?

The city has an ambitious plan to build more homes, but it’s not set up for success just yet.
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Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

As the affordability crisis deepens in America’s most expensive cities, many are adopting ambitious plans to increase their housing supply. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio has pledged to create or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing, following the 165,000 preserved and created by his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg. Seattle has completed or begun construction on more apartments in the 2010s than in all of the previous 50 years combined. Even the notoriously growth-averse Bay Area has made some major strides: In 2011 San Jose committed to creating 120,000 new units of market rate and affordable housing by 2040.

Whether San Jose can actually build these homes is another question. A new report by the Bay Area urban planning think tank SPUR says San Jose’s land use rules may keep the city from meeting its ambitious housing goals—and that would have broader economic impacts that the city can’t afford. In response, the think tank suggests a number of policy changes, including updating the city’s zoning code, doing away with outmoded auto-centric regulations, and hiring more long-term planners.