“Affordable housing is like the weather. Everyone talks about it, but nobody does anything about it, including the current Milpitas City Council,” said City Council candidate Suraj Viswanathan today as he unveiled his own plans to address the crisis.
Suraj said it’s time for a “top-down” re-examination of all existing tax, fee, zoning, and permitting structures in the city in order to lower the cost of building new apartments and homes, including smaller, starter homes for young people just out of college or entering the work force. “California is one of the most expensive places in the world to build a house. That’s because as much as one-fifth of the cost can be in developer fees. Developers then recoup their investment by building unaffordable, million-dollar mega-mansions.” He said cities have become “too reliant” on residential impact fees to fund infrastructure required by new development. “We need to find some alternatives to that funding source, such as municipal bonds.”
The Milpitas business executive also floated the idea of using bonds to fund lower-income housing itself. “This was done in Portland, Oregon in 2018 when voters passed a $652 million bond for housing. We ought to give voters here the same chance to vote on such a proposal.”
He said that “unless the talk stops and action is taken,” housing costs will continue to spiral out-of-control, “locking out a generation of our residents from being able to realize the American Dream of home ownership.”
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