A San Jose City Council committee on Monday, March 27, rejected a proposal that would have interfered with the right of apartment owners to list their properties for sale on the open market. 

The Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA) sought to require property owners to notify the city when they intend to sell a multifamily building and then give nonprofit buyers the right to purchase the property before it is listed publicly.  

The proposal faced significant opposition from the California Apartment Association and other rental housing providers who argued that it was misguided, costly, and would interfere with real estate transactions while failing to produce new affordable housing. 

Over 100 speakers testified in-person and on Zoom, expressing concerns about the proposal’s impact on the San Jose housing market.  

Anil Babbar, CAA’s senior vice president of local public affairs, explained CAA’s opposition to San Jose Spotlight.  

“COPA is a lazy way for the city to pretend it is meeting its affordable housing goals,” Babbar told the news website. “If the city was serious about wanting to ensure the preservation of naturally occurring affordable homes, they would release funding to the nonprofit buyers, enlist the services of a real estate broker and start making offers today. This can all be done without this ordinance.” 

Anil Babbar

During Monday’s meeting, Councilwoman Pam Foley echoed one of CAA’s arguments, suggesting that the city should hire real estate brokers to help nonprofits purchase buildings when they get listed publicly. 

Newly elected Vice Mayor Rosemary Kamei recognized the flaws in the proposal and made the motion to reject the Housing Department’s report and efforts to have the full City Council adopt COPA. Councilman Arjun Batra also expressed concerns about the use of the city’s limited housing funds on acquiring units and suggested that the funds would be better spent on direct vouchers to renters facing displacement. 

Councilmen Peter Ortiz and Omar Torres, strong supporters of COPA, may continue to push for its consideration. CAA will send an advocacy alert should this item be sent to the full council. 

In the meantime, Babbar thanked CAA members for their efforts to stop the measure.  

“As a result of the direct advocacy by CAA, the COPA proposal was rejected by a vote of 3-2,” Babbar said. “The letters, direct testimony, and persistence from housing providers paid off.”