San Jose Can Counter Displacement by Complying with the State’s Surplus Land Act
Public Advocates and co-counsel filed a lawsuit in state court on July 21, 2016, against the City of San José on behalf of two San José residents and two non-profit housing advocacy organizations, charging that a policy the City passed to spur development of mostly high-rise luxury housing on public land in San José’s downtown violates California’s Surplus Land Act (SLA).
The Act requires cities to prioritize public land for affordable housing that they sell or lease.
On March 11, 2020, the California Supreme Court denied review in Anderson v. City of San Jose, letting stand the decision of the sixth circuit court of appeal ruling in favor of our clients.
On November 26, 2019, the Sixth Appellate District Court of Appeal ruled that San Jose is not exempt from complying with the Surplus Land Act. We are delighted with this ruling which affirms that ‘public land for public good’ isn’t just a slogan, it’s the law of the land in California. Every city can and must prioritize its surplus land for homes affordable to lower-income families.As Deputy Managing Attorney Sam Tepperman-Gelfant noted, “The justices recognized that ‘public land for public good’ isn’t just a slogan, it’s the law of the land in California. Every city can and must prioritize its surplus land for homes affordable to lower-income families.”
In January 2020, San José filed a motion seeking discretionary review from the California Supreme Court. We believe that the appellate court got it right, and we are currently preparing our response.
The Surplus Land Act was intended by state lawmakers to ensure that all California cities do their part to address the state’s affordable housing crisis. San José has faced its own affordability crisis with the average monthly rent for a 2-bedroom apartment reaching $2,792, affordable only to renters making $54 per hour or nearly $112,000 annual salary.
Anderson, et al. v. City of San Jose
- San Diego Union Tribune editorial on the broad impact of the case and press coverage of the ruling on SFGate, Courthouse News Service, and CBS Bay Area.
- Press Release Issued November 26, 2019 After Court Upheld Surplus Land Act
- Press Released Issued October 25, 2017 Appealing State Court Ruling
- Complaint Filed July 21, 2016
- Press Release Issued July 21, 2016, by Public Advocates and Co-Counsel
- Opposition to Motion to Dismiss
- Appeal of Ruling on Motion to Dismiss
San Jose surplus land policy