Thanks to the support of the Families & Homes SJ (FHSJ) family—thanks to your phone calls, your letters and, especially, your showing up to speak at city council meetings in-person or on Zoom—we succeeded in defeating the worst-case attack on single-family zoning in our city.

We know it sometimes seems frustrating to fight city hall and against the well-funded outside interests that want to experiment with San Jose’s long-established zoning laws, but grass-roots citizen action can succeed! We won an important victory on Dec 14.

When Governor Newsom signed SB9 into law a few months ago, San Jose faced the possibility that up to TEN new housing units could be legally built on any single-family property in the city without any review process or neighbor input. The city faced a hard deadline: if the city council failed to act by Jan 1, this 10-unit maximum would have become a permanent law in San Jose.

You responded to our call to action. As a result, the city council voted on Dec 14 to limit SB9 to just 4-units per property, the absolute minimum allowed by the new state law. Four units is still a major and unacceptable leap in density for our single-family neighborhoods, but it could have been so much worse if our city council did not act before Jan 1.

City council also voted to halt all additional work on ‘Opportunity Housing’ and to make all new SB9 development follow the same rules that already apply to all new single-family home construction in San Jose:

  • Maximum building height of 30 feet / two-stories

  • Maximum height of 20 feet within 20 feet of a rear property line (no second stories in the back yard)

  • No ADUs over and above the 4-unit maximum mandated by SB9

  • An overall maximum .45 floor-area-ratio (FAR) that limits the total size of all units constructed on a property

Of course, the well-paid lobbyist that supported Opportunity Housing have not gone away. They will seek to pass new ordinances in 2022 that extend these ‘SB9 rules’ to cover R-2 zoned lots and homes in historic neighborhoods (these are both excluded by SB9), and they will push other efforts to further increase the density of single-family neighborhoods beyond the 4 units now mandated by SB9. FHSJ will continue our efforts to monitor and resist these ill-considered proposals in 2022.

And we all need to continue to support our state-wide ballot initiative to return control of zoning issues from Sacramento to our local communities:

San José Organizations in Opposition