The SVO Voices Opposition to Affordable Housing Impact Fee on Stanford University Campus

The Silicon Valley Organization Advocacy Matters

Dear Supervisor Simitian: On behalf of The Silicon Valley Organization (The SVO), I am writing to respectfully oppose Board Agenda #9 – Affordable Housing Nexus Studies that would prepare an ordinance for a Stanford University specific housing impact fee. By way of background, we are 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.

In the unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County, Stanford University is the only entity that has paid a fee to support affordable housing. The university has proposed to contribute approximately $56 million as a part of their 2018 General Use Permit. Furthermore, Stanford University regularly subsidizes staff housing in nearby communities and charges rent below market rates for their on-campus housing units. Over the years, Stanford University has demonstrated a remarkable commitment that supports affordable housing units that support the County’s goals through its Housing Element, as well as the Regional Housing Needs Allocation process.

We were then perplexed to hear that the County is considering a Stanford University specific housing impact fee, in addition to the existing fees that Stanford already pays for on academic spaces. Stanford has already proposed good faith transit-oriented, below market rate housing for both their faculty and staff. The County should support these efforts by rejecting any effort to adopt a new housing impact fee that could potentially inhibit Stanford’s ability to provide existing affordable housing stock. The SVO urges the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors to support Stanford University’s request and reconsider several items of Board Agenda Item #9:

1. Direct County Staff to return with a fee recommendation simultaneously with the entire package of approvals for Stanford’s proposed 2018 General Use Permit. This fee should not be considered in isolation from the rest of the conditions of approval and the Board should take no position as to the amount of the fee until the entire package is before it.

2. Direct County Staff to return with a fee recommendation that is reasonable considering Stanford’s non-profit status.

3. Direct staff to ensure that its recommendation encourages, rather than discourages the provision of housing. Because Stanford pays a fee based on academic square footage, and provides affordable housing options on campus, the University should not be charged yet another fee for building housing.

4. Consider that the fees for both academic space and new housing should be calculated based on countywide costs to build affordable housing-- not an arbitrary assumption that the entire Stanford fee would be spent within 6 miles of the campus. The study should not constrain the Board’s future policy options.

5. Direct staff to correct the Stanford-specific nexus study prior to returning to the Board with a recommended fee along with the entire package of approvals for the proposed 2018 General Use Permit by (a) calculating the academic fee solely based on housing demand generated in Santa Clara County; (b) presenting the academic fee with and without demand generated by postdocs; (c) removing the construction cost comparison from the context discussion for the Stanford fee; and (d) acknowledging that Stanford has not paid a fee of $35/sf and the question whether that fee applies under the current permit has not been resolved.

Thank you for your consideration of these requests and we hope that you will work with Stanford University as a partner in ongoing efforts to build more affordable housing in Santa Clara County.