The Housing Leadership Council has taken the disappointing, if not unsurprising step of opposing the extension of Measure P. Unfortunately, their position is misinformed and their outreach contains many misrepresentations. Our response is as follows:
July 26, 2018
Evelyn Stivers, Executive Director
Housing Leadership Council
2905 S El Camino Real
San Mateo, CA 94403
Subject: Misrepresentation of facts
I am writing regarding HLC’s email update of July 20, 2018, outlining the organization’s opposition to the initiative petition circulated by San Mateans for Responsive Government. Considering how much this issue has been in the public eye, and how much accurate information is available, we can only presume you chose to state false and misleading justifications for your opposition. As an affordable housing advocate and member of HLC, I find this deeply disturbing.
Honest opposition or disagreement is one thing, but deliberate misrepresentation of fact is altogether different. To oppose the measure on false pretenses and factual misrepresentation is dishonest. When an organization that seeks to be viewed as reputable spreads false information, the effect is divisive and counterproductive. It damages the organization’s credibility and risks damage to the affordable housing cause itself. Therefore, we request that HLC formally and publicly retract the false statements put forward in the 7/20/18 email update. Stated below are HLC’s assertions (in italics) followed by the actual facts.
HLC assertion: “The height and density limit has prevented affordable homes in Bay Meadows.”
FACT: This is false. The fact is Measure P required affordable homes be built at Bay Meadows. And because of the requirement, 176 below market rate units (15.3% of the total units) were built at Bay Meadows Phase II. According to figures provided by the City of San Mateo, more than half of the below market rate units produced in the last 27 years are a direct result of this measure.
HLC assertion: "Does not allow for partnerships between affordable housing developers and market rate developers.”
FACT: This is false. The measure states quite clearly: “the project proponent shall build the unit(s) on site, either in partnership with a public or nonprofit housing agency, or on its own.”
HLC assertion: “If passed, would conflict with state law and the current general plan.”
FACT: This is false. The initiative measure is in full compliance with state laws, including AB 1505. The measure reads, “off-site building, or other alternative means of compliance shall be allowed.”
The measure is, and has been since 1991, an integral part of the general plan, and by definition, consistent with it: “this initiative sets forth amendments to the General Plan that were originally adopted by San Mateo voters in 1991, amended and re-adopted and extended through the year 2020, and that will continue to be included within the General Plan through the year 2030.”
HLC assertion: “The SMRG measure was submitted to prevent the general plan from considering any
changes in heights and density.”
FACT: This is false. The SMRG measure was submitted to provide stability, predictability and reliability for the public and development community while the changes in heights and densities are considered in the general plan update process. By putting the measure to a citywide vote, it acknowledges residents as “stakeholders” in the process, and puts them on more equal footing with special interest “stakeholders” who wield a disproportionate share of money and influence. Extending Measure P is a way to level the playing field while the entire community considers what it wants to be.
HLC assertion: “SMRG is urging the council to host a special election, just for this issue, at a cost of over $700,000 for an election in November 2018.”
FACT: This is false. Because of the state and federal elections scheduled for November 2018, the county would be sending out ballots and election materials anyway. If a local issue is placed on the ballot at the same time, it would be considered a “consolidated” special election. Based on County Election estimates and the cost of past elections obtained from the city clerk, estimated cost including printing would range from $140,000 to $167,000. If, like many past elections, the print full text option is not used, the cost to put the measure on the ballot in November 2018 could drop closer to $100,000.
As I believe you know, the current initiative petition was signed by more than 7,000 San Mateo voters. It is a renewal of a voter adopted height, density and affordable housing measure approved by 60% of the voters in 1991, and 70% of the voters in 2004. Opposing this measure, despite the many affordable homes that have resulted from it, seems a misdirection of HLC’s stated mission to “advocate for policies that address the root causes of the housing shortage.” There are other, more constructive and less divisive
ways for HLC to advocate for affordable housing, such as increasing the inclusionary housing percentage, maximizing BMR housing on public land, and addressing the jobs side of the jobs/housing imbalance, the root cause of the housing crisis.
San Mateans for Responsive Government
Michael Lane, HLC Board President
Paul Krupka, HLC Board Treasurer
Andrea Osgood, HLC Board Vice President
Meg McGraw-Scherer, HLC Board
Serena Ip, HLC Board
San Mateo City Council
Carole Groom, County Supervisor
Dave Pine, County Supervisor
Jerry Hill, State Senator
Steering Committee, SMRG