San Jose Fights Santa Clara Over Housing

SAN JOSE (CN) — In a new twist to the Bay Area’s housing shortage, San Jose sued its western neighbor Santa Clara, claiming a mixed-use development expected to create 25,000 jobs will not include enough housing, placing the burden on surrounding communities.
     “The proposed 9.1-million-square-foot development, which anticipates creating 24,760 new jobs, shifts the environmental burden and expense to support that economic development onto neighboring cities and counties by limiting housing within the development to a minimum of 200 units and a maximum of 1,360 units,” San Jose says in the complaint in Santa Clara County Court.
     San Jose claims in the Friday lawsuit that Santa Clara violated the California Environmental Quality Act and its own General Plan when it approved the commercial development on a undeveloped 240-acre parcel in June.
     San Jose, pop. 1 million, is eight times more populous than Santa Clara.
     The 9-million-square-foot City Place project includes commercial office space, retail and entertainment facilities, hotel rooms and 200 to 1,360 residential units.
     San Jose accuses Santa Clara of delaying the disclosure of environmental analyses and an impact report, making them available only days before the City Council approved the project on June 28.
     “The release of significant new information was untimely and required the respondent to re-circulate the EIR to allow the public to review and to comment on that information but the respondent failed to do so,” San Jose says in the complaint.
     The project is to be built on a former landfill, according to the complaint, and Santa Clara failed to account for the potential hazards of such a development.
     “Instead of mitigating that risk by requiring a clean closure of the landfill, which would allow residential development consistent with an environmentally sound project, respondent’s EIR has minimized and/or whitewashed the impact the project creates,” San Jose says in the complaint.
     Also, the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, which must approve the project, “has never to date approved a residential development on a landfill due to potential adverse health impacts to residents living in homes built over waste,” San Jose says.
     In addition to CEQA violations, San Jose says, its neighbor’s General Plan zoned the area as open space and failed to change the zoning in a manner consistent with California law or to replace the open space by preserving other parcels.
     Finally, it says, the project approval is inconsistent with a habitat conservation plan that dedicated 44 acres of the parcel for the burrowing owl.
     San Jose wants all approvals for the project set aside, the project description amended, a new or amended environmental impact report that complies with CEQA, and a restraining order and injunction.
     Neither city’s attorney’s office immediately responded to phone calls seeking comment.

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