Groundbreaking workforce standards on VTA’s Tamien project

Billions of dollars in public and private funds are pouring into our region to fuel Silicon Valley’s development boom. But the boom is a double-edged sword: without enough middle-class jobs for our community, long-time residents are being priced out.

We urgently need innovative ways to leverage this development and ensure it leaves a lasting investment in expanded opportunity. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is pioneering an approach to public-private development that is poised to provide an important new model.

Last week, VTA released a request for private development proposals for the land it owns surrounding Tamien Station, a prime 7-acre site in central San Jose.  Thanks to policies approved by the VTA Board earlier this year, potential developers will need to demonstrate they can meet critical neighborhood needs. Among these:

– Building affordable housing in residentially-zoned areas near the transit station;

– Ensuring that all construction jobs meet basic state standards for wages and provide on-the-job-training via apprenticeship;

– Proposing how they will create entry-level apprenticeship opportunities for local disadvantaged residents.

Both these policies – affordable housing and Community Workforce – passed thanks to strong advocacy by community and labor organizations for affordable housing and good jobs in VTA’s Joint Development portfolio.

This is a groundbreaking step. VTA is the first agency in the county, and one of the first in the state, to consciously consider community workforce opportunities in its public-private developments.

We will be closely watching to ensure the first project goes well and developers live up to their promises. And since VTA’s Joint Development portfolio includes over 300 acres slated for future development, there’s great potential for future projects — if new models like this ensure that community needs come first.

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