I was twelve years old when my world changed forever. I was seated at the table, eating dinner with my family, when a group of strangers walked into our home. Legally, the home wasn’t ours anymore—we had been foreclosed on.
I come from a family of immigrants, and we painstakingly saved up to buy a house after renting in the Campbell community when I was growing up. But in the Great Recession of 2007-08, we lost our family business, and then lost the house. Now, tragically, I see the same story unfolding around us as another generation of Campbell residents has been hit hard by the pandemic.
Here’s my promise to you: no one has the experience with this issue that I have, coming from a family that went from renters to homeowners, to losing our home, to now being a renter myself. This issue will be front of mind for me for one simple reason—
I’ve lived it.
The housing crisis in the Bay Area has reached a magnitude unmatched anywhere else in the state. Tragically, the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear the fault lines in our region’s housing market. Our failure to implement a regional housing policy that is responsive to the needs of our community has turned into nothing less than a public health hazard. The pandemic has also led to a ticking time bomb for vulnerable residents who are sheltering in place in the short-term, but will ultimately either face eviction or be saddled with a lifetime of debt.
Even before this pandemic, housing has been the number one concern I’ve heard from Campbell community members. Residents of all ages worry about how we can afford to keep living in Campbell, while preserving the aspects that make small-town life here so special. Addressing our housing crisis will be more important than ever post-COVID-19.
Ultimately, the job of a City Council is to shape a vision for the future of a community. When that vision is lacking, policy gets made by and for those who show up, or can afford to. When Councilmembers refuse to take bold action, they are failing the needs of their constituents. We can’t wait any longer: the housing crisis requires swift action and decisive leadership. Only then can we ensure that Campbell will remain a livable community for all of us.
In order to keep our small town feel, we have to ensure Campbell families can continue to live here instead of being priced out. That means continuing to approve new housing stock so that we can have a place for all those who want to make Campbell their home.
Where it makes sense to do so, we should consider requests from property owners to convert commercially zoned areas to residential or mixed usage, as well as encourage areas that are already zoned for mixed usage to increase their housing stock, creating a more livable community that is family-friendly and centered around pedestrian, bike, and public transit usage.
I have previously participated in public meetings with housing developers to successfully push for the installment of bike racks in developments near the downtown area.
I will continue to encourage the use of bike infrastructure in new developments to keep cars off the road and achieve better public health outcomes.
And according to noted city planner and urbanist Jeff Speck, this “walkability” is the key determinant of a thriving community, making our town welcoming for all people alike.
Previously, proposals for new housing developments in the City of Campbell have not maximized their potential to plan for public transit. This is partly because public transportation is a regional responsibility, while housing and planning is a municipal one. Currently, proposals must include a “traffic impact report” — often leading to tense disagreements between the City and local residents about the true impact of developments on traffic. Proposals often include mention of nearby public transit, but do not account for the potential growth of new transit lines or potential cuts.
I will mandate that new housing proposals include a “public transit integration report,” requiring our City to communicate with Valley Transportation Authority to coordinate housing and transit needs.
Homeowners should be allowed to convert their single-unit residences into multi-family units if they wish to do so. This is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to build up our housing stock, and can provide additional revenue for homeowners during difficult economic times, while retaining our welcoming and close-knit community.
Campbell currently has some of the most restrictive ADU regulations in Santa Clara County. For example, the minimum square footage required is 10,000 square feet, more than any other city in the region.
Lifting restrictions on ADUs are a no-brainer to expand housing stock and, in many cases, allow families to remain together in the community they call home. That’s why we should follow the lead of San Jose and create a community portal for homeowners who wish to convert their extra space into an ADU.
One of the simplest ways to maintain a livable community is to preserve and protect the housing stock we currently have. We should almost never rezone residential areas to commercial usage, and any new developments on existing lots should include at least as much housing stock as the units they are replacing.
I was proud to author an op-ed in support of Senator Scott Wiener’s revised SB 50 legislation that allows cities the flexibility to practically meet their housing goals.
I’ll continue to advocate for the needs of Campbell residents through additional state legislation where necessary, ensuring our city has a voice in the process.
At a minimum, we must ensure that no existing specialized senior living facility in Campbell is rezoned or replaced. We’re lucky to have a variety of such facilities within Campbell, representing different senior populations.
Many of these communities provide the only affordable means for seniors to remain in our City. Preserving them will ensure everyone is able to be part of our broader Campbell community.
Studies have shown that high-quality, well-planned mixed use developments — combining retail with housing — bring important community benefits: lower infrastructure costs, higher tax revenue, improved public health, lower traffic and sprawl, and, in the long-term, reduced costs going forward for police, fire, and trash services.
Moreover, they improve the walkability and small town feel that is so important for the character of our community, and are a smart way to couple housing goals with economic development and promotion of transit and biking.
"We have to hold onto the possibility of creating a new world together, of working to create a fairer, more just society in the years to come."
"When I was 15 years old, my family lost everything. "