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Calm Sea

SMRG urges City to add more affordable housing

July 7, 2024

To the Mayor and City Council,

San Mateans for Responsive Government (SMRG) has many issues with the proposal to place a measure on the ballot this November which would remove Measure Y in many key portions of our city. One of the main reasons for needing to do this, according to Council discussion and the three glossy mailers that have been sent to residents, is the need for more housing, especially affordable housing. Unfortunately, one of the key components of the proposal to increase heights and development intensities in General Plan 2040, including the Housing Element, is a heavy reliance on "mixed use" land use. This creates an unfortunate and unacceptable opportunity for developers to propose absolutely no housing, which does nothing to address the stated reasons for the need to intensify development. 


Voters deserve better. If they decide to support the proposed intensified developments in the 10 study areas, they  should be able to vote restrictions into the new General Plan which will assure that the much touted need for affordable housing is addressed in every mixed use development. To this end, we urge the Council to include this language, or something very similar, in the City ballot measure. Although we know that the Council is discussing other ways to deal with requiring housing in mixed use, we feel that the only way the voters can be assured that new, more intense developments will help fill our city's affordable housing needs is to vote in basic controls. That takes away the very real concern that developers will pressure the city to make exceptions for their proposals, leading to unfortunate spot changes as parcels are developed.  


Our proposed language is:

For all parcels which, based on this measure, increase their height and density limits over Measure Y regulations, those projects developed using any form of a "mixed use" designation are required to include significant  affordable housing. Affordable housing shall be included such that the units make use of 20% or more of the habitable floor area (excluding parking and open space). This calculation shall be coordinated with, and in addition to, the basic underlying percentage unit requirements for affordable housing, already in the General Plan. 


If a development chooses not include this floor-area-based required affordable housing, the height and density regulations for that development shall revert to those applicable to that specific parcel(s) under the 2030 General Plan, and expressed in Measure Y development controls.

SMRG urges the Council to assure voters that, should they choose to support increased development, they will also be addressing the stated, and widely accepted, need for increased affordable housing in San Mateo. 


San Mateans for Responsible Government

Michael Weinhauer



Alex Khojikian

Christina Horrisberger

Zachary Dahl

City Clerk

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