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About Measure Y

Measure Y extends until 2030 the City of San Mateo’s voter-adopted height, density, and affordable housing protections.  These protections were created in 1991 as Measure H in response to development pressures and an unresponsive City Council.  Residents realized, after their concerns were consistently ignored, that some development standards were too important to leave to just 3 votes of the City Council on any given Monday night.  Measure H became Measure P when renewed by the voters in 2004, and Measure Y when renewed in 2020. 


LAND USE STANDARDS - Measures H, P, and now Y establish land use standards that protect residential neighborhoods and promote intensification of high density development near transit, allowing building heights of 55-75 feet (5-7stories) and densities of 50 units per acre.  It also required developers to provide "public benefit" for projects exceeding 55 feet. This public benefit requirement has protected a block of historic buildings along B Street in the downtown and provided park, pedestrian safety and fencing improvements in the 19th Avenue Eichler neighborhood.  

AFFORDABLE HOUSING - To address the need for affordable housing Measure Y requires a minimum of 10% affordable below market rate (BMR) housing in every new development of more than 10 residential units.  It encourages the City Council to increase this percentage, which they recently raised to 15%.  Measure Y requirements have doubled the production of BMR housing in the city of San Mateo over the last 30 years. 
Measure Y is consistent with current state housing laws, including  AB 1505, allowing off-site building, or other alternative means of providing affordable housing. 

In accordance with long-held community values to distribute affordable housing throughout the city, it does not allow use of in-lieu fees for developers to buy their way out of building the affordable units at the same time their development is built.  San Mateo's 2020 per unit in-lieu fee for fewer than 11 units is $259,622.  Current per unit construction cost is approximately $700,000. If the in-lieu fee were applied to all new residential apartment construction in San Mateo, it is doubtful that any developer would choose to actually build the affordable units.  The financial incentive is to pay the fee and not build the housing.  The City ends up short on two counts - no affordable units to show and only enough money to build a third of an apartment.  

GENERAL PLAN UPDATE - Measure Y is part of the existing General Plan and continues to allow substantial office, commercial and residential development while maintaining the community character and quality of life that we all enjoy. Millions of square feet of office space and thousands of housing units have been built within the smarter growth envelope of this balanced growth measure. Measure Y prevents 3 votes of the City Council from making changes to the General Plan during any update process. Once a revised General Plan is adopted, it can be, and should be, presented to the voters for approval.  


  1. ​​Protects existing residential neighborhoods​

  2. Embraces sustainable planning principles

  3. Concentrates higher heights and densities near transit

  4. Helps preserve open space and reduce sprawl

  5. Ensures a minimum 10% inclusionary affordable housing

  6. Complies with current state housing laws, including AB 1505

  7. Enables significant increases in market rate housing

  8. Allows for continued office, commercial and economic growth

  9. Reduces threats to irreplaceable architectural and cultural resources

  10. Supports the General Plan, Downtown Specific Plan, Sustainable Streets Plan, Rail Corridor TOD Plan,  and Bicycle Master Plan

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