SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Mayor Sam Liccardo publicly urged the California Legislature to return to session to pass Senate Bill 995, which streamlines the process for major housing development projects.

Motivating Liccardo’s concerns is Google’s massive Downtown West mixed-use project, which would install affordable housing and commercial spaces near San Jose’s SAP Center.

“In a moment of historic levels of joblessness and amid our chronic shortage of affordable housing, we will continue pushing forward with this transformative project to ensure that our community can benefit from thousands of affordable apartments and millions of square feet of workspace,” Liccardo said. “We urge a special session that will enable the Senate to consider SB 995, because this project has already met state criteria — and if not for COVID related delays, the City wouldn’t need an extension. ”

The bill failed to pass before the end of the legislative session on Aug. 31. The failure to pass the bill, plus complications created by the COVID-19 delayed several local projects including Downtown West, which city officials hoped to approve by the beginning of 2001.

Critics of SB 995 described it as a “phony housing bill that actually rewards huge $15M+ commercial projects that happen to include some housing.” According to analysis, the bill decreases the amount of affordable housing required in new developments to just 15% and weakens the California Environmental Quality Act.

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