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Giving a voice to the voiceless in the conversations around housing.
The San Mateo Housing Stories Project is an ongoing project of One San Mateo.
Far too often, those affected most by changes in our communities are those who leaset have a voice in the matter. They lack a voice in the media, and they lack a voice in politics, one feeding the other in a vicious cycle.
Again and again, we hear powerful interests say that we lack the data to take action on housing. But then when we push for government to collect the relevant data, those very same powerful interests do an about-face and cynically stand in the way of the collection of data.
Only government can collect the necessary data on the full extent and nature of the housing problems we are suffering from. However, we will not standby and allow those affected by housing to be silenced by the inaction of others.
The San Mateo Housing Stories Project is aimed at gathering stories from and providing a forum for those being impacted by the continuing housing crisis. You are not alone. By raising our voices together we have power.
Two recent articles reconfirm what many of us know all too well: the Bay Area’s housing affordability crisis continues unabated.
Local rents continue to climb high
Reports: Costs in San Mateo County jump, raising questions about economic impact
Rents in San Mateo — already among the nation’s most expensive — jumped again in July, marking the seventh straight month during which the cost of living locally increased, according a recent report. – See more.
Study: Majority of Bay Area locked out of home sales market
Potential homebuyers trying to break into the Bay Area real estate market without a high-paying tech job or financial help from family may find the American dream of home ownership slipping right out the window.
“Many younger residents are particularly affected, unable to buy in the very neighborhoods where they grew up, some real estate agents say.”
A California Association of Realtors study released last week showed that — with Bay Area median home prices soaring over $1 million and median incomes insufficient to carry such loans — fewer than 1 in 5 Bay Area residents can afford to buy into the local market. – See more.
We need to do more to address this out-of-control crisis. But no single policy by itself will sufficiently address the problem. What we continue to require are across-the-board solutions.
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.
August 12, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m
The Congregational Church of San Mateo
225 Tilton Ave., San Mateo
This is to remind everyone that the next regular meeting of One San Mateo will be on August 12 at the Congregational Church of San Mateo. We will continue our push for affordable housing solutions in San Mateo.
All are welcome to attend!
This was the case that showed us why cities like San Mateo and Burlingame desperately need tenants’ protections. In memory of Marie Hatch, we will continue to fight for the basic right of all tenants to live lives of dignity.
Landlord who evicted Marie Hatch from Burlingame home agrees to pay $200K
A lawsuit filed against the landlord who evicted Marie Hatch from her longtime Burlingame home settled with a $200,000 award to the son of the senior tenant whose displacement garnered international attention.
“In my opinion, the behavior certainly contributed to her death. They served an eviction notice to a 97-year-old,” he said. “How would you like to be 97 years old and be told that you have 30 to 60 days to leave?”
Bleak outlook offered to most home buyers, as prices continue to swell
By Austin Walsh
County Realtors are sending a simple message to potential home buyers not a part of the local high-tech, life sciences or other lucrative local job markets — good luck.
“If you are an average Joe, it’s very difficult for you to buy a house,” said Realtor Jeff LaMont. “If you are a school teacher or an auto mechanic, you are kind of screwed. It’s really, really tough.”
The bleak sentiment is borne out through the most recent figures offered by the San Mateo County Association of Realtors, which shows the county’s median home sale price last month reached $1.8 million. – See more.
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on June 3, 2018
The Congregational Church of San Mateo (225 Tilton Ave. near downtown San Mateo)
This is to remind you that the next regular meeting of One San Mateo will be Sunday, June 3 from 6 to 8 pm. We will meet at our customary location, the Congregational Church of San Mateo (CCSM) at 225 Tilton Avenue.
All are welcome to attend!
Residents defend recently enacted rent stabilization protections, urge voters not to sign “Landlord Profit Protection Act”
Mountain View, CA—Today 18 residents of Mountain View filed a complaint with the City Attorney alleging that a recently proposed landlord initiative is rife with misleading statements and inaccuracies. The complaint demands that the City Attorney reject the proposed initiative unless the landlord campaign corrects the falsehoods.
“They lost the election less than two years ago, and this is nothing more than an attempt at a sneaky repeal of the voters’ decision to protect the diversity of Mountain View.”
“We know that the landlord lobby will stop at nothing to protect their profits, including by lying to voters,” said Trevoli Welsh, one of the signatories of the complaint. “Our rent stabilization program is fully funded by a nominal fee on landlords and is actually expected to come in underbudget this year. Yet the landlord campaign is based on using fear-mongering about the alleged cost of the program, when the truth is that it protects over 30,000 residents at no cost to taxpayers. That’s a bargain price to ensure that teachers, nurses, first responders and our neighbors can afford to stay in our community and thrive.”
In November 2016, Mountain View voters approved Measure V, instituting one of the first new rent stabilization programs in California in over 30 years. Over 15,000 households in Mountain View have since enjoyed protections against massive rent hikes and no-cause evictions. The complaint was filed in response to an initiative submitted by landlords that seeks to upend those new protections.
“Let’s be clear, this initiative is the landlords’ attempt to kill tenant protections in Mountain View,” said Kara Sanchez, another of the signatories of the complaint. “They lost the election less than two years ago, and this is nothing more than an attempt at a sneaky repeal of the voters’ decision to protect the diversity of Mountain View.”
Depending on the outcome of the complaint, the next step for the landlord initiative is to gather the signatures necessary to qualify for the ballot.
Landlord campaigns to overturn rent control have faced widespread allegations of misconduct during signature gathering campaigns across the state in recent years. Signature-gathering drives backed by landlord trade groups like the California Apartment Association have been criticized for employing paid signature-gatherers who have misrepresented petitions in order to obtain signatures in Richmond, Santa Rosa, Pacifica, and Alameda. Just last month, the District Attorney of San Mateo County filed twenty-one felony charges against signature gatherers financed by the California Apartment Association for forging signatures in a Pacifica anti-rent control campaign.
“We want to spread the word to voters about the truth of this initiative,” said Heather Phipps, another person who signed the complaint. “We urge voters not to sign this ‘Landlord Profit Protection Act.’ Our new tenant protections are an important part of the puzzle in addressing the housing crisis in Mountain View. The landlord initiative is an attack on the people who help make our town strong, it’s an attack on Mountain View as a Human Rights City. Don’t sign the landlord petition!”
Minimum lease terms, relocation assistance to take effect January in Redwood City
In an effort to ease burdens on renters amidst the ongoing housing crisis, the Redwood City Council unanimously passed two renter protection ordinances requiring landlords to offer minimum lease terms, and in certain circumstances, help pay for the relocation of displaced low-income tenants.
“Many speaking in support of the ordinances felt they didn’t go far enough, but welcomed the ‘move in the right direction.’ Supporters recounted in detail stories of evictions, homelessness, unsafe living conditions and tenants afraid to speak up for loss of their homes.”
“Cities across the Bay Area, including Richmond, Alameda, Santa Rosa, and San Mateo, reported landlord lobbyist smear campaigns with misinformation. … Now we have a confirmed criminal case of fraud from Pacifica….”
Pacifica, CA–The San Mateo County District Attorney has filed multiple felony charges against referendum petition signature gatherers hired by the California Apartment Association (CAA). The CAA referendum overturned a temporary law passed by the Pacifica City Council that would have protected tenants from exorbitant rent increases and unjust evictions in the months leading up to the November 2017 vote on rent control. Fair Rents 4 Pacifica, a local all-volunteer community organization, filed a complaint with the District Attorney alleging that signature gatherers were misrepresenting the referendum to gain signatures.
The District Attorney filed twenty-one felony charges against two paid signature-gatherers, who were hired as part of the industry-backed referendum campaign. According to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe in an interview by the Pacifica Tribune, the pair faked at least 20 signatures, signing voters’ names and addresses without their consent. The felony charges include several counts of elections fraud, perjury, and identity theft.
In May 2017, the referendum campaign backed by the CAA and San Mateo County Association of Realtors (SAMCAR) narrowly repealed temporary tenant protections by a margin of only 63 signatures. Fair Rents 4 Pacifica gathered evidence that at least 66 Pacifica voters sought to remove their signatures, nearly all claiming that they had been misled. The District Attorney’s investigation uncovered even more egregious misconduct including the fraudulent collection of at least 20 additional signatures. The misrepresentations and fraud paid for by the CAA kept tenants in Pacifica vulnerable to rent hikes and unfair evictions for months while voters waited to weigh in on the rent control ballot measure in November. Fair Rents 4 Pacifica received reports of tenants who faced rent hikes of $600 or more, forcing many residents out of their homes.
“This prosecution should serve as a wake-up call for the California Apartment Association, San Mateo County Association of Realtors, and others who campaign on lies to smear tenants and rent control. Fraud is fraud, and it can land you in jail,” said Dean Preston, Executive Director of Tenants Together, California’s Statewide Organization for Renters’ Rights.
“Cities across the Bay Area, including Richmond, Alameda, Santa Rosa, and San Mateo, reported landlord lobbyist smear campaigns with misinformation. We are seeing a disturbing pattern. Techniques of fear-mongering, outright lies, and voter intimidation undermine the obvious fairness of tenant protections. Now we have a confirmed criminal case of fraud from Pacifica, where signature gatherers were paid by a campaign sponsored by the California Apartment Association,” says Suzanne Moore, a member of Pacifica Housing 4 All. “The Democratic process in our small community was corrupted by a half-million dollars of outside realty monies and a fraudulent petition drive. Pacifica families have been financially harmed and displaced through their efforts.”
Tenants Together is California’s only statewide renters’ rights organization. With 50 member organizations across the state, Tenants Together works to improve the lives of California’s tenants through education, organizing and advocacy. We seek to galvanize a statewide movement for renters’ rights.
Pacifica Housing 4 All is a volunteer-led project of the Pacifica Progressive Alliance. Formerly named Fair Rents 4 Pacifica, which organized the rent control measure on the ballot in November 2017.
Transportation and housing are at a crisis point in Silicon Valley, and they’re connected to another hot issue: climate change. What can we do to solve all three problems simultaneously?
We need to address the housing affordability crisis, but we don’t want to make it harder to get around town or harm the climate. Join us for this discussion to:
- Learn about the connections between housing affordability, traffic reduction, and climate change;
- Hear what neighboring communities are doing to reduce the need to drive; and
- See how you can help make your community more walkable, affordable, and transit-friendly.
- Nina Rizzo manages GreenTRIP Certifications at TransForm. The GreenTRIP program supports multi-family residential developments that implement strategies to reduce traffic, parking and greenhouse gas emissions
- Nevada Merriman of MidPen Housing is designing and developing affordable housing where residents can reduce their reliance on cars
- Elaine Breeze of SummerHill Apartments works on “smart growth” multi-family rental housing and mixed use developments