It's Time For

Common Sense Solutions on Housing

For decades, San Jose has been the bedroom community housing residents for the job centers of Silicon Valley. Our residents wanted to live here for beautiful neighborhoods, good schools and quality of life. However, recently, politicians have pushed for rapid development in single-family neighborhoods through plans such as SB 9, which would allow developers to build up to ten units on top of infrastructure built for single-family homes.


I am proposing a Smart Growth San Jose plan. The plan calls for the City of San Jose to focus San Jose’s future growth in Downtown, North San Jose and near fast and reliable transportation systems such as Caltrain and BART. Through this plan, we will build new housing that manages our growth in a way that helps support our environment and doesn’t add cars to our already congested roadways.

It is important to remember that certain types of housing are a long term strain on our city budget. If we let developers build what they want in single family neighborhoods away from transit and without funding new services, taxpayers will be forced to subsidize that growth. But other types of housing — particularly higher density housing downtown and near transit — will pay for itself. That’s why we need to put housing where it makes sense — starting with where it won’t mean higher taxes, reduced services, or both.

Matt Mahan for Mayor traffic and housing plan


WE NEED TO PUT HOUSING WHERE IT MAKES SENSE — starting with where it won’t mean higher taxes, reduced services, or both.

That's why as mayor, I will:


Stand up to the politicians and continue to fight against SB 9 and the other proposals which allow up to ten units on formerly single family lots. I’ll focus on mixed-use growth in the city’s identified 68 Urban Village sites downtown and along major transit corridors. We spent years developing a General Plan for more housing that makes sense for San Jose — we should not now abandon it in favor of housing plans that create sprawl, increase traffic, and leave taxpayers with an unsustainable bill.


Increase the feasibility of this Urban Village development by pre approving project locations, design guidelines, traffic and environmental mitigations and other project elements to streamline the permitting process. Permits should take weeks or months, not years to attain. We should also relax overly aggressive commercial requirements for housing built outside of key commercial corridors.

Developers in San Jose report that the process of simply getting the permits needed to build housing can often take OVER A YEAR.


In line with our Urban Village plans, incentivize “smaller and taller” developments that are affordable by design for students living near San Jose State or for seniors who are looking to downsize to live in more walkable neighborhoods with reliable transportation.


Hold the state government accountable. Much of California’s housing crisis was created by a state government that took away funding for affordable housing, hangs onto policies that slow the development of housing, and underfunded investments in transit that would support new housing. The state is blaming us for problems they created — and we need to work together as cities and communities to make the state do its important part in solving our housing challenges.


Hold City Hall accountable for providing high-quality service to those who want to build housing and bring jobs to our city by setting customer service goals in our Planning, Building & Code Enforcement (PBCE) Department and creating a money-back guarantee on processing fees when the city is late on permit review or inspections.


Invest in people and innovation to bring construction costs down and address the scarcity of labor through workforce development initiatives like the City’s Public Works Academy and San Jose Works.

In LA, a similar plan to enact high-density housing surrounding transit called TOC, which started in late 2017, has led to the permitting of more than

27,000 new housing units

From 2018 to 2019, affordable housing units proposed are

up 160%

Affordable housing units approved are

up 130%

San Jose currently sits at a ratio of 0.81 jobs per employed resident, meaning that many people who work in places like Palo Alto and Cupertino live in San Jose due to the higher availability of housing.

The average tiny house in California costs between $40,000 and $100,000 to build.


Utilize intergovernmental agencies such as ABAG and MTC to push for policies that require jobs-rich cities like Palo Alto and Cupertino to add more housing, instead of allowing them to rely on San Jose as their bedroom community.


Incentivize the adoption of “Tiny Homes” or backyard cottages that are also affordable by design, can be manufactured off-site which dramatically lowers costs, and can help keep extended families together.


Build stronger relationships with neighborhood associations to ensure residents are not left in the dark on upcoming developments or changes to housing plans. People should have a say about what happens in their neighborhoods and should not be attacked or demonized for wanting to have a voice.


Use the existing housing we have in smarter ways. Rather than eliminating single-family neighborhoods, we can use existing empty rooms in single family homes and create micro units for parents or grandparents to live together. This has many names in urban planning — like “Co-Housing.” But we should make this easier to do since it is just common sense to use existing housing more effectively.


Set clear goals for the housing we need to make San Jose more affordable. If these goals are not achieved, deny pay raises for elected officials and relevant senior staff.

Join us for Common Sense on Housing