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San Jose Mayor Liccardo Pushes for State to Eliminate All Regulatory Barriers for Building Emergency Housing

Post Date:03/24/2020

March 24, 2020

Media Contact:
Rachel Davis, Office of Mayor Sam Liccardo, 408.712.9149,

SAN JOSE, Calif. - San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo urged State of California officials to eliminate existing barriers at the state, regional and local levels to rapidly build emergency housing during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

 “Homeless encampments have never been safe places for human habitation, but the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic makes them—and our crowded shelters— far more perilous for our unhoused residents.  Rapid construction of emergency housing—leveraging local and state dollars, with the benefit of FEMA reimbursement for a substantial share of the cost—becomes all the more imperative amid this crisis. The State must act quickly to remove all barriers to enable cities to scale quickly to meet their capacity needs for homeless residents.”

As Chair of the California Big City Mayors coalition, Mayor Liccardo expressed gratitude for the resources and regulatory flexibility, announced by the Governor last week, including $150 million in immediate aid to local jurisdictions for emergency housing and more than 1,300 trailers sent across the state. The Big City Mayors submitted a set of priorities to the Governor and his team that included a request for waivers of permitting and regulatory requirements to expedited the construction of emergency housing. The Big City Mayors is a coalition of Mayors across California’s 13 largest cities, namely Los Angeles, San Diego, San José, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, Oakland, Bakersfield, Anaheim, Riverside, Santa Ana, and Stockton.

Liccardo noted, “I’m joined by many local leaders and millions of Californians in expressing appreciation for Governor Newsom’s assertive actions and the legislature’s support, which will save lives. Nonetheless, we all agree we have much more to do in the days and weeks ahead, and we look forward to doing so in partnership with the Governor. ” 

Mayor Liccardo filed a memo, to be heard at City Council today, advocating State officials do the following for the duration of the State of Emergency:

  • Waive the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), State permitting rules, and State-building codes for emergency housing construction—defined as buildings with separate units or rooms for each resident, to ensure physical separation in compliance with County Public Health mandates 
  • Mandate state-chartered or authorized agencies (e.g., CalTrans, utility districts, and counties) to immediately identify and make available specific sites of public land for temporary or permanent emergency housing construction 

Details of the memo can be found here.


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