Protecting Our Neighborhoods:
The General Plan 2040 Process
We already advised that the San Mateo City Council would be reviewing 3 growth alternatives to apply city-wide, determining our future development path. This review occurred on April 18, 2022, and resulted in the City Council applying maximum growth options to every area of our city, increasing building heights everywhere.
While residents made it clear with the passage of Measure Y that they wished for a future of reasonable and sustainable growth (this was also underscored by recent survey results and many letters to Council), not once did Council apply the least impactful Alternative A. This alternative would have allowed for the housing required by the state, been compliant with Measure Y, and, by their own analysis, would have been fiscally beneficial for the City. (It’s important to note that even as the smallest growth option, Alternative A would have resulted in a population growth rate of over 25% - more than triple our growth rate since 1960.) Instead, Council designated high growth zones in every study area, including upzoning the 17th Avenue Safeway property, setting the stage to increase San Mateo's population by over 50% in the next 20 years. All with NO mention of how services to sustain this growth can be provided. All not in compliance with Measure Y protections.
While these upzoned high growth study areas allow for 8-12 story building heights, residents should understand this is only the starting point. Due to new state laws, it’s very easy to add two or three stories atop a new development - so 8 stories becomes 11, 12 stories becomes 15, and so on. More important to know is that most of the areas targeted for extreme high growth are approved as "mixed use," which does not require housing or affordable housing. It allows developers to choose the ratio of retail, office and residential that will be most profitable. Since office development is far more profitable than housing, developers would likely opt against housing every time, thereby increasing the the demand for more and more housing.
In the coming months the City will hold more "public hearings" to solidify their extreme growth policies. Over the next year they will publish a draft EIR and ask for public comment. It’s a long process, so we all need to stay informed and involved.
Ultimately, Council cannot adopt a new General Plan that exceeds Measure Y unless they go back to the ballot box and get voter approval.
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Protecting Our Neighborhoods: The Fight Against SB9 and SB10
Senate Bills SB9 and SB10 have been signed into law by Governor Newsom. These bills are the beginning of the end of homeownership in California, as investors jump into bidding wars against families. Senate Bill 10 opens all neighborhoods to demolition and speculation, letting any city council allow 10 unit apartments on “any parcel”, overriding all zoning including single-family and commercial. These bills openly invite gentrification of older, diverse, multi-family and single-family areas. NO affordable units are required by either bill.
These laws are a huge gift to developers and real estate investors who can maximize their profits by building luxury and market-rate housing with NO affordable housing required!
Taxpayers will bear the costs of increased demand on schools, parks, water, sewers, power grids and public safety personnel.
Sacramento is increasing housing costs without meeting the need for affordable housing, approving density, ignoring water shortages, removing environmental protections, and transferring wealth from individuals to corporations!
Making matters worse, the San Mateo City Council, led by Mayor Rick Bonilla, has jumped on the anti-single family bandwagon and prioritized adopting SB10 in San Mateo. In addition to allowing the Council to rezone the home next to you for 10 apartments plus 2 ADUs, SB10 enables four council votes to overturn voter approved ballot measures like Measure Y
But there is an increasing groundswell of opposition to these two draconian attacks on single family homes and homeownership. More and more, community leaders, cities and towns throughout California are standing up and fighting back.
Want to help stop this madness? There is a petition circulating statewide that would overturn these laws and give zoning authority back to individual communities. Visit Our Neighborhood Voices to learn about the coalition of thousands of California neighborhood leaders fighting to preserve our ability to speak out about what happens in our own neighborhoods. The Our Neighborhood Voices initiative restores the authority of your local representatives to decide what gets built in your community, on your street and right next door to where you live.
Livable California is another organization advocating for the empowerment of local governments to foster equitable, self-determined communities offering a path for all to a more livable California.