SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — East Side Union High School District board members voted unanimously to move forward with a staff housing plan and to place a $60 million general obligation bond on the March 2020 ballot.

If approved, the bond will finance the construction of 100 apartment units for employees on district property.

Pattie Cortese, board president, said stories of “super-commuters,” teachers and staff who drive in from Los Banos, Hollister, Tracy, Livermore and beyond, have become commonplace. Cortese says land surrounding the district office at 830 N. Capital Avenue has been underutilized for years.

“The confluence of that awareness, plus the housing crisis that we’re in today as a valley and community, really suggests that it’s time,” said Cortese.

The board vote came in the same week that Facebook announced a $25 million donation to help build “teacher and essential worker housing” at 231 Grant Avenue in Palo Alto, the site of the old courthouse. The project is expected to create 90 to 120 units of below market rate housing.

Initial plans and artist renditions for East Side Union show the employee housing would be located on the northwestern corner of the district office’s parcel, comprising a 4.5 acre section. The existing bus yard will be relocated to another part of the property. The one, two and three bedroom units will be spread throughout a cluster of a half dozen buildings.

As for the selection process, teachers, clerks, custodians and other staff will be chosen by lottery. Rent will be set at 30% below market rate and employees will be allowed to stay up to seven years. The discounted housing will allow residents to save up for the purchase of a home, Cortese said.

Based on current rent in San Jose in the third quarter of 2019, a 30% discount comes out to $1,628 for a one bedroom unit, $1,995 for a two bedroom unit and $2,572 for a three bedroom unit, according to the “Feasibility Study for Workforce Housing” conducted by Dublin-based DCG Strategies.

“We want them in our community. Our students are best served when the people who take care of them, their teachers, principals and support staff are living right here in our community with us,” said Cortese.

The $60 million bond must be approved by 55% of voters. Based on district calculations, it would increase taxes to property owners an average of $2.70 per $100,000 of assessed value. The district estimates the tax rate could reach a high of $2.90 per $100,000 of assessed value.

That translates to $18 per year for the average homeowner in east San Jose, according to Cortese.

“We’ve done some polling and the people in this community, the voters have been very generous, and the polling suggests that they’re willing to do this,” said Cortese.

Diane and Alan Lee, who own property in north San Jose, said the tax increase was “reasonable.”

“It’s very good, it’s OK, I vote yes,” said Diane Lee.

“Sure, anything to help the teachers out,” said Alan Lee.

If the bond measure passes, the district could break ground as early March 2021.

The East Side Teachers Association had no comment.

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