One San Mateo is a local community group whose overarching mission is to increase fairness and inclusion in San Mateo. As part of our efforts to craft affordable housing solutions, One San Mateo has recently completed a months-long deliberative process addressing the proposed extension of Measure P. This involved presentations from both sides, numerous conversations, and a structured discussion that culminated in a blind vote. The outcome of this process is that One San Mateo has decided against supporting the extension of Measure P. Below is a statement of our rationale.
San Mateo’s current height and density limits have been in effect for nearly 30 years. They were first introduced in 1991 as Measure H and were re-authorized in 2004 as Measure P. Much has changed since they were first adopted. Our city and region have experienced extraordinary economic growth, adding jobs at a rapid rate. In comparison, the production of housing has been minimal, and the resulting imbalance has caused rents and home prices to soar.
The situation today, therefore, is very different from when voters previously enacted San Mateo’s height and density restrictions. We now face a full-blown housing affordability crisis impacting almost every aspect of our community. Many long-time residents are being forced out, tearing families apart. We are experiencing a shortage in vital workers, from restaurant employees to teachers and medical staff. And as people have been driven farther away, so have commutes lengthened and car-hours on the road increased. The housing crisis is a detriment to us all.
In light of the changes that have taken place, One San Mateo believes it is time to take a renewed look at the needs of our community. The city is about to embark on such a process with the upcoming General Plan update. The General Plan considers a wide range of issues relating to the health and function of San Mateo—housing, land use, open space, noise, circulation, and more. Height and density limits are important components of the General Plan. If Measure P is extended this November, it will lock in the current height and density limits for another ten years. In so doing, it will foreclose on the opportunity to meaningfully debate these policies during the General Plan update.
To be clear, One San Mateo is not advocating for the elimination of height and density limits. Rather, we are challenging the premise that standards adopted 30 years ago continue to best serve the needs of our community. In opposing the extension of Measure P, One San Mateo is calling for an open and inclusive General Plan process in which all voices and all issues have a fair opportunity to be heard.
To achieve this end, we encourage the City Council to ensure that the General Plan process is open, robust, and accessible to diverse voices in our community, including the most vulnerable. The members of One San Mateo look forward to engaging in this process in the interest of creating a fairer, more inclusive, more vibrant city for us all. Together we can place San Mateo on a better footing for the future.