On behalf of The Silicon Valley Organization (The SVO), we are writing to express our strong opposition to any consideration of a commercial linkage fee, which would create disincentives for employers to add jobs and would worsen San Jose’s already poor “jobs-to- housing” imbalance. By way of background, The SVO is the Silicon Valley’s premier business advocacy organization representing 1,400+ companies that employ nearly 300,000 workers and we represent our membership as the region’s largest Chamber of Commerce.
While the City Council is working diligently to develop an enterprise-wide work plan to address the homelessness crisis, Vice Mayor Carrasco and Councilmember Peralez have put forward a memorandum to study a commercial linkage fee that could potentially displace low to middle-income jobs. Homelessness is a complex issue that requires multiple policy solutions to address. We also understand that one of the pathways out of homelessness is “self-sufficiency” through good-paying jobs. With the recent launch of the city’s Transitional Jobs Program which provides jobs for homeless residents, new commercial developments must be facilitated in order to grow San Jose’s tax base to continue funding this jobs initiative and to add middle class jobs that every San Jose resident can benefit from. A commercial linkage fee would only discourage new commercial development, create disincentives to add jobs, and would be counterproductive to the city’s goals of addressing both the homelessness and housing crisis.
There is no doubt that Silicon Valley is experiencing an unprecedented housing crisis and there have been numerous local and state solutions dedicated to solving this problem. The key systemic solution is to drastically increase housing supply at all income levels throughout the region. The best way to accomplish this goal is to relax regulatory barriers established by San Jose’s general plan in order to significantly accelerate housing production. By significantly increasing housing supply, there will be a downward trend in market rate development prices that will provide more affordable housing options for our residents and further prevent homelessness in our community.