On behalf of The Silicon Valley Organization (The SVO), we are writing to urge the Council to adopt a 1-for-1 replacement policy of rent-controlled units for new residential projects under the Ellis Act. By way of background, The SVO is the Silicon Valley’s premier business advocacy organization representing nearly 1,200 companies that employ over 300,000 workers, and we represent our membership as the region’s largest Chamber of Commerce.
Any revisions to the Ellis Act re-control rules should preserve the existing supply of rent-controlled housing units, while avoiding unnecessary policies that would make residential projects infeasible for redevelopment opportunities. The city’s existing 50% re-control rules on new construction projects makes it extremely difficult for housing developers to obtain adequate financing to increase the city’s housing stock. The key to solving the housing crisis is to significantly accelerate housing production at all income levels – we must do everything we can to remove impediments to housing and the Council must not impose a 50% re-control rule that would be counterproductive to the city’s housing production goals.
According to a recent staff report on the Housing Crisis Work Plan, an average of 2,800 residential units were built between 2010 and 2017. There simply is not enough housing production to tackle the housing affordability crisis head-on. Furthermore, we are aware that the Housing Department is floating a proposal to exempt the 50% re-control provisions, but only for new residential projects that generate at least 7 times the number of original units on the existing site. Many small sites will be unable to meet this density requirement and this policy proposal essentially supports the status quo by denying redevelopment opportunities. By amending the Ellis Act re-control provisions to strictly a 1-for-1 replacement rule, we can remove obstacles to construction and start encouraging residential development that will address housing affordability in the region.
In closing, we strongly urge the Council to exempt new residential construction from the Ellis Act 50% re-control provisions.