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Eight Months Until Silicon Valley's Largest Mass Eviction

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Over 600 tenants will be booted by April 2017

News of evictions in San Jose reached foreign shores today, as the Guardian picked up coverage of the plight of some 670 residents of the San Jose Reserve Apartments. The 216-unit, rent-controlled building will be demolished next April to make way for 640 market-rate apartments.

Some Reserve residents have been fighting the plan all year, but ran out of steam two weeks ago when the San Jose City Council voted 7-3 against their appeal of a previous city decision green lighting the redevelopment.

(Council members Ash Kalra, Tam Nguyen and Magdalena Carrasco voted against the project; Chappie Jones, who represents the apartment dwellers, voted for it.)

The argument that prevailed says that San Jose needs 640 new apartments to relieve its housing crisis more than it needs 216 rent-controlled ones.

By some rubrics, San Jose is the third most expensive city for renters in the U.S., with prices on an ominous rise for several years. Rental site Zumper estimates that a one-bedroom apartment in San Jose now has a median rent of $2,280, behind only New York City and (of course) San Francisco.

The Reserve building dates back to the early '70s and advertises itself as offering "the best of San Jose within easy reach." It’s located on Winchester Boulevard, a few blocks south of the Winchester Mystery House.

The existing building is mostly occupied by working-class people, but it’s not exactly cheap. New leases on the Reserve's 380-square-foot studios rent for as much as $1,900/month. Two-bedroom units in the building can command as much as $4,338/month.

The estimated San Jose median for two-bedroom apartments in San Jose on sites like ApartmentList, Trulia, and Zumper is between $2,600-$2,900.

However, the building’s rent-control status means that rents can increase no more than five percent each year for existing leases, which apparently cramps owner and developer Greystar’s style enough to warrant redevelopment.

All of the roughly 670 Reserve residents will have to leave come April. Various sources call it the largest mass eviction in Silicon Valley’s history (although it’s rarely possible to confirm those kinds of superlatives). Greystar is offering financial aid to a small number of low-income residents during the move.