To Micro, Or Not to Micro? Residents Voice Concerns Over Micro-Unit Project

Sobrato Micro Home Proposal Met With Neighborhood Opposition

By Robert Haugh

Noted developer and philanthropist John Sobrato’s plans to build 200 micro housing units in Santa Clara was met by a chorus of jeers from local residents at a community information meeting on Feb. 2.

The concept is to provide permanent housing for individuals who are experiencing homelessness.

“Instead of sleeping in a pup tent or a freeway underpass, Santa Clara folks will have a clean, dignified place to call home,” Sobrato said in Dec. 2016.

Many residents claim the project will bring in crime, drug and alcohol problems. Some have started an online petition opposing the development. Because the project is only in preliminary discussions, there is no detailed information on potential crime and public nuisance activities.

Proponents of the development feel strongly also: “I think this is the most innovative [housing] project coming to Santa Clara,” said Jennifer Loving, Destination: Home’s executive director.

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According to City reports, “the initial proposal submitted by Sobrato requires significant analysis, planning and community outreach,” including feasibility and requirements of development on the site; preparation of a project description and master plan for the property; completion of CEQA analysis; rezoning the property and securing entitlements.

The project basics:

  • 200 micro units (160 square feet, 240 square feet with ADA accessibility). Units will feature a sleeping area, kitchenette, toilet and shower, window and room for a pet.
  • 2.5-acre site at the intersection of San Tomas Expressway and Monroe must be used for low-income housing.
  • 2,000 square foot community hall with room for property management offices .
  • Units would be either be custom-fabricated or created from shipping containers.
  • The Santa Clara City Council unanimously approved an exclusive negotiating rights agreement with Sobrato on Dec. 6, 2016, for the “Innovation Place” project.
  • Targeted to extremely low, very low and low income adults experiencing homelessness.
  • Partnerships with Abode Services for property management services and Catholic Charities for support services.
  • The property, zoned for single family housing, was acquired with former Redevelopment Agency funds in 2005, which requires the site to be developed to support affordable housing.

The City has a dedicated site to the project at




  1. Since the housing authority was disbanded, why do people think the property must be low income?

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