February 22, 2020

Advocates push to protect more San Jose mobile home parks

Affordable-housing advocates are pushing San Jose leaders to extend more robust redevelopment protections to every mobile home park in the city, as the red-hot real estate market entices property owners to convert parks into more upscale housing.

But San Jose leaders say just two of the city’s 58 parks — Westwinds and Mountain Springs — are earmarked for high-density housing and face an immediate risk of redevelopment.

The proposal highlights the struggle Bay Area cities face to preserve existing housing and produce new homes and apartments. Mobile home parks provide an ample, yet dwindling, supply of affordable housing near job centers. But developers also eye the properties as prime places to add new, higher-quality homes and high-rises to meet the region’s soaring demand.

In a letter to the City Council Feb. 4, the housing and community development commission urged the council to designate all manufactured home communities — home to 35,000 San Jose residents — as mobile home parks in the general plan. The designation would add an additional layer of city scrutiny to redevelopment projects, including further studies and public hearings, and likely slow any conversions.

“We continue to believe that all mobile home parks are vulnerable to conversion,” said commission chairwoman Andrea Wheeler.

But the City Council has moved cautiously, with some members saying wider protections would place additional burdens on city planning staff already overwhelmed with development proposals. Councilman Lan Diep said the goal was to protect the most vulnerable communities, but added, “I’m not opposed to extending it to other mobile home parks.”

Santa Clara County has the most parks in the Bay Area with 108, followed by Contra Costa County (72), Alameda County (56) and San Mateo County (24), according to the state.

The San Jose City Council last month approved the conversion of Winchester Ranch Mobile Home Park into a complex of high-rise apartments, condos and townhomes. Park residents have been offered subsidized housing in the new development, along with relocation and rental assistance.

The 1,600 residents of Westwinds — the largest park in the city and the fourth largest in the state — received warnings in January they may be forced from their homes for redevelopment in 2022.

Both property manager MHC and property owner Nicholson Family Partnership say they want to protect residents. No redevelopment plans for the 83-acre site, which could hold more than 1,000 homes and apartments, have been submitted to the city.

San Jose planners have designated a wide range of zoning uses for the parks, including residential neighborhood, urban residential, industrial, commercial and mixed use developments. The designations give owners and developers guidelines for building on the parks.

About three-quarters of San Jose mobile home parks are considered residential neighborhoods, allowing the development of typical suburban subdivisions with up to eight homes per acre, according to city documents. Westwinds and Mountain Springs are the only parks designated for high-density development, allowing between 30 and 95 condos, townhomes and apartments per acre.

Under current guidelines, a developer faces lower barriers from the city to turn Westwinds or Mountain Springs into …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


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