Mandatory Natural Gas Elimination in

All San José Buildings/Homes by 2030

– Public Input Due by 3/11/2022

The City is accepting comments, until 3/11/2022, on its EXISTING BUILDING ELECTRIFICATION PLAN. Per the plan: “Because voluntary action by property owners will not be sufficient to fully electrify San José ’s buildings by the City’s 2030 carbon neutrality goal date, new laws that require electrification for every building sector will be necessary.” (pg. 47)

This means the elimination of all-Natural Gas (NG) appliances including fireplace inserts, ovens, cooktops, furnaces, water heaters, clothes dryers and back-up generators by 2030.

Per the report: “The total cost of electrifying all residential buildings in San José by 2030 is an estimated $2.7 to $4.7 billion.” (pg. 9) (Of course, this does not address any supply chain issues, inflation, or available labor issues that may increase this number.)

FHSJ analysts calculated the cost (in today’s dollars) to the average homeowner to convert an existing gas furnace to an electric one, convert all other gas appliances to electric, and upgrade their electric panel to be at least $50,000 per home. As currently written, the average homeowner will be responsible for the bulk, if not all, of this cost in the next eight years to comply with the proposed law. Under this proposed City policy, all gas appliances and heaters—including ones in good working order—must be eliminated in all homes by 2030.

Please review the report, presentation and complete the Existing Building Electrification Plan Feedback Form by 3/11/2022.

Contact your Councilmember requesting more public meetings to explain the program and request an increase in the time period for public comment.

Single-Family Residential Zoning in San Jose:

What are the REAL numbers!

For over a year, the San Jose Planning Department has repeatedly made this alarmist claim about single-family zoning in our city:

“94% of residential land is designated for single-family houses.”

These claims were published on the city website and used by city staff in multiple public presentations during the year-long debate over “Opportunity Housing.” The intended inference is that San Jose has no available land to accommodate much-needed housing growth.

Of course, the well-funded special interest groups pushing to eliminate single-family zoning citywide echoed these exaggerated claims, and even made them more extreme!

This “94%” claim was repeated in every forum where single-family zoning was discussed, and these claims were given further legitimacy by the New York Times, Spotlight and other media.

But what is the source for these ‘94%’ claims? Have they been confirmed and verified, or is it a convenient fiction used to promote radical zoning policy changes in San Jose?

The analytics team at Families & Homes SJ (FHSJ) decided to take a deep dive and examine the actual zoning distribution in the city. We utilized the city’s own comprehensive zoning database, which identifies the property size and zoning designation for every parcel in San Jose. The public can access this database here:

The FHSJ analytics team examined every entry in the database—more than 12,000 individual zoning parcels. Each parcel is designated “commercial,” “open space,” “industrial” amongst other unique zoning categories. Residential parcels are designated “residential” (R) or “planned development” (PD) with a “residential” PD sub-code. Parcels that are zoned exclusively for single-family homes are designated R-1.

So, what did we find?

Just 34% of all San Jose land today is zoned for single-family (R-1) homes, not 94%.

And if we consider R-1 zoned land as a percentage of All residential (including planned development residential), we see that R-1 single-family zoning consumes just 74% of all residential zoned land in the city [60.9 / 81.8].

We call on the planning department to immediately correct the highly misleading claim that 94% of residential land in San Jose is exclusively for single-family homes. This false claim contributed to the acrimonious debate over ‘Opportunity Housing’, creating an emotional and divisive environment for serious housing policy discussion.

Single-family Zoning has now been outlawed in California

As of January 1st 2022, all R-1 properties in the state can now legally accommodate up to 4 housing units without any planning review or public comment from neighbors or city staff. Single-family zoning has been eliminated statewide forever in California by SB9. But this radical change to statewide zoning is very unlikely to offer any relief to working- and middle-class families seeking affordable housing. SB9 contains NO provision for affordable housing, and a comprehensive San Jose planning department analysis proves that SB9 will result in ZERO affordable housing construction in the city.

To overturn SB9 citizens can join the statewide ballot initiative to restore zoning decisions to local government:

Our Call to Action for San Jose

Adding a few duplexes every year to existing low-density single-family neighborhoods cannot possibly satisfy the pent-up demand for additional housing in the Bay Area. The only way to achieve a measurable impact on housing availability and cost is by developing large-scale high-density housing projects.

In 2022 San Jose must redouble its efforts to implement the city’s long-standing high-density Urban Village strategy. The city’s 2040 General Plan projects housing growth 400,000 new residents by fully implementing the Urban Village strategy—an incredible 40% population growth in just 20 years. We call on city leadership and planning staff to re-focus their efforts in 2022 on Urban Villages, and away from divisive, counter-productive and time-consuming efforts to chip away at single-family zoning. We also call on city staff to be a source of fair, honest and verifiable data for all citizens of San Jose.

SB9 Will Devastate San José’s Tree Canopy

According to the San Jose planning department, “trees make the city a healthier, more beautiful place. They provide residents many benefits…shade, beautifying the city, and improving air quality.”

But our city’s tree canopy is at risk. The planning department reports that “citywide tree canopy cover has decreased from 15.36% in 2012 to 13.54% in 2018. That’s 2.7 square miles of tree canopy cover! Replacing lost canopy isn’t easy; it can take 30 to 40 years to replace a mature tree.”

The elimination of single-family zoning (i.e., SB9 ) will accelerate this loss of citywide tree canopy. By its very nature, SB9 spreads new construction horizontally across our city. It is a low-density addition to existing low-density neighborhoods, which will require the removal of many trees on existing single-family lots. Economically motivated developers will use their newly granted rights under SB9 to build out to the maximum footprint on every parcel they acquire for conversion to multi-unit use, trees be damned!

High-density Urban Villages, on the other hand, increase housing density vertically, not horizontally. This minimizes tree canopy destruction. Simply put, multi-story high-density Urban Villages maximize the number of new housing units per tree removed.

A comprehensive study using Google Earth imaging technology in Seattle, one of the few municipalities to implement an ordinance similar to SB9, confirmed that replacing single-family homes with duplex, triplex and fourplex units resulted in significant tree canopy loss.

Today single-family lots in San Jose account for less than 62% of all land use, but 70% of all trees. Under SB9, the conversion of these single-family lots into multi-unit dwellings will inevitably lead to accelerating tree canopy loss throughout the entire city. Even more concerning, the conversion of single-family lots to multi-unit use—and the resulting tree canopy loss—will be greatest in the most economically disadvantaged parts of our city where land purchase costs are lowest.

“High-density Urban Villages minimize tree canopy destruction while creating the population centers needed to support mass transit. Because they minimize the amount of land required for buildings and roadways, there is more room for trees; they are the very definition of smart growth,” explained Dave Poeschel, a conservation activist with the local chapter of Sierra Club. “The proposed citywide [...] ordinance is the opposite. It would expand low-density developments across the city and their building footprints, likely accelerating the number of tree removals in our city already woefully short of tree canopy, especially in East San Jose. Vertical growth clearly beats horizontal growth for environmental sustainability.”