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The San Mateo Housing Stories Project
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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.
The eviction cliff is rapidly approaching, and many of our neighbors are at risk. With the statewide eviction moratorium set to expire on January 31, thousands of Bay Area families face the very real danger of being forced from their homes.
One San Mateo is joining the effort of the faith community to prevent this, and we ask you for your support. Please participate in the call-in campaign now underway to persuade state legislators to vote in favor of two bills that have been proposed.
- AB 15 extends the moratorium originally put into place by AB 3088 until the end of 2021, protecting tenants from eviction as long as they pay a designated portion of their rent
- AB 16 is intended to address the long-term impacts of the pandemic on tenants, small landlords and affordable housing providers
The links below will take you to talking points and connect you with the office of your state legislators:
You can also have the links sent to your phone by texting NOEVICTIONS to 40649.
This request is especially urgent since the moratorium is due to expire very soon. Please call right away and help keep our neighbors in their homes.
As you are certainly aware at this point, the COVID crisis has put enormous pressure on lower income members of the community, many of whom have had their hours reduced or are completely without work. They struggle to feed their families, pay their utility bills, and meet their rent. In an effort to address these hardships, concerned politicians at all levels have worked to develop various forms of relief.
One of the more innovative forms of relief, embodied in California’s AB 3088, is the conversion of rent debt to civil debt, otherwise referred to as non-evictable debt. This is debt that is still owed to the landlord but cannot serve as the basis for eviction. If the rent remains unpaid, landlords can seek to recover it, but this can only be done through standard collection procedures, such as filing an action in small claims court.
Specifically, AB 3088 says that for the period March 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021, a major portion of unpaid rent is eligible to be converted to civil debt, provided that tenants pay a specified fraction of the rent that is due and fill out a form indicating that the nonpayment of rent is caused by pressures arising from the COVID pandemic.
In recent weeks, One San Mateo, acting on behalf of the People’s Alliance of San Mateo County (PASMC), has overseen the creation and distribution of a mailer to 4,000 low-income renter households in San Mateo to make them aware of the protections afforded by AB 3088. A copy of this mailer in both English and Spanish is attached. Similar mailers have been sent to 14,000 households in other cities in San Mateo County bearing the logo of allied organizations that are also members of PASMC.
AB 3088 provided important relief, but under its terms, tenants will be required to pay 100 percent of their rent beginning on February 1, 2021 or else be subject to eviction from their homes. With the virus continuing to rage and businesses shut down again, this date is alarmingly close, and the prospect of widespread eviction becomes exceedingly real. Undocumented families are at special risk of eviction since they have been eligible for neither unemployment benefits nor stimulus checks.
In the coming weeks, One San Mateo and its allies will be examining possible options for extending relief measures to keep renters in their homes. I hope you will join us in making the case for this relief. In the midst of the current pandemic, it would be unconscionable to allow thousands of families to be forced from their homes.
Finally at year’s end, a word of thanks. On behalf of One San Mateo, I want to express my deep gratitude to the many of you who have extended financial and volunteer help to your neighbors over the past months, who have raised your voices to protest against systemic racism, and who cast your votes in favor of a more inclusive community this fall. While 2020 has been an undeniably difficult year, there is still much we can be thankful for. I ardently hope that we are.
Vice Chair of One San Mateo
If you share One San Mateo’s views about some of the issues on the ballot this election, then here are some great ways you can get involved to make a difference before election day.
For Amourence Lee for San Mateo City Council:
For Chelsea Bonini for San Mateo County Board of Education:
For No on Measure Y:
For Yes on Measure RR:
At the State Level
For Yes on Proposition 15:
For Yes on Proposition 17:
For Yes on Proposition 21:
In keeping with One San Mateo’s focus on advancing just, equitable, and across-the-board housing solutions, One San Mateo recommends the following choices on this election’s ballot.
Amourence Lee for San Mateo City Council
When Maureen Freschet opted to retire early in 2019, a process ensued to appoint her replacement. At that time, One San Mateo, along with numerous other equity groups in our community, threw our support behind Amourence Lee. We held and continue to hold that it is of the utmost importance that a diverse range of neighborhoods, perspectives, and peoples have a seat at the table of governance. It is for this very same reason that we once again endorse Amourence Lee for a seat on the San Mateo City Council. Amourence brings a unique perspective and a details-oriented focus to her role on the city council. Having herself experienced the trials of poverty and the need for an effective social safety net, we believe that Amo will keep the needs of the most vulnerable close to her heart. From her previous work in addressing the unequal treatment of neighborhoods in the General Plan to her more recent work in championing the causes of LGBTIQ Pride and Coalition Z, Amo has demonstrated that the principles of equality for which One San Mateo also stands will be a defining part of her public service.
Chelsea Bonini for San Mateo County Board of Education
Chelsea Bonini is a courageous campaigner for equity in our community. She takes great care in bringing attention to kids with special needs, both through her nonprofit and her political work. She is deeply aware of how a lack of access to stable and affordable housing can negatively impact a child’s capacity to learn. We can attest firsthand to Chelsea’s deep values, her accessibility, her generosity of spirit, and her willingness to advocate for the most vulnerable. It is with great joy that we endorse our close compatriot Chelsea Bonini for San Mateo County Board of Education.
Measures & Propositions
No on Measure Y
Back in 2018, when a measure to extend San Mateo’s height and density restrictions was still in its petition phase, One San Mateo began a lengthy process to determine our position on that proposed extension. This process involved presentations on both sides of the issue. In the end, One San Mateo’s membership voted to oppose such an extension—what has now come to be known as Measure Y. To be clear, we are not opposed to all height and density restrictions. What we are opposed to is deciding such matters before the General Plan process—which is intended to consider these very policies in a thoughtful and inclusive way—has a chance to play out. One of the fundamental questions at hand here is whether San Mateo’s current height and density restrictions—which Measure Y would extend—help or hurt the affordable housing landscape. A number of developments have occurred since One San Mateo first articulated its opposition to what would become Measure Y. Chief amongst these from One San Mateo’s perspective was an independent study commissioned by the city at One San Mateo’s behest. The objective of that study was to investigate the possibility of raising San Mateo’s below-market rate mandate—a goal which One San Mateo has forwarded for many years. The lamentable finding of that study was that it was not economically feasible to raise the city’s below-market mandate within the restrictive envelope that Measure Y would maintain. There can no longer be any question: Measure Y’s policies stand in the way of us as a community being able to thoughtfully and inclusively pursue solutions to the affordable housing crisis.
Yes on Measure RR
Numerous transit agencies have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 crisis. With the dramatic drops in ridership, those networks which rely to a significant extent on ticket fares and lack a dedicated funding stream have been hit the hardest of them all. This has been the case with Caltrain. Regardless of what the near-term may hold, the future of the Peninsula will depend on the maintenance of a fully operational Caltrain. As we all have been enjoying reduced traffic and congestion—one of the few undeniable upshots of sheltering in place—imagine if we were to return to pre-COVID traffic levels without Caltrain to reliably ferry commuters on a daily basis. Not only that, but a crippled Caltrain would imperil the models of transit-oriented development being used to responsibly direct the production of future housing. At a 1/8-cent sales tax increase, Measure RR is a small price to pay to keep the Peninsula “on track”.
Yes on Proposition 15
After over 40 years in existence, the data are in on Prop 13. Not only has it failed to provide housing affordability for those with limited options, it has also cleaved a hole in California’s school funding, plummeting our state’s schools from near the top in the nation to near the bottom. As usual, poorer localities with smaller tax bases and less clout to advocate for themselves in school funding battles saw themselves hit the hardest. Prop 15, on the other hand, is a prudent reform to Prop 13. Despite what opponents may suggest, it does not touch residential property taxes. Rather, it requires virtually immortal legal entities who can hold onto commercial properties in perpetuity to pay commercial property taxes not at 1970s but present day rates. Furthermore, the $12 billion in tax revenues this would generate would be funneled chiefly to schools. San Mateo County alone would stand to receive more than $400 million, a minority of which could also go toward programs such as roads and housing. We come to our present predicament in which we are witnessing massive tax shortfalls across the state as a result of the COVID crisis. Therefore, reforming Prop 13 and making commercial property owners pay their fair share is no longer just about rectifying the mistakes of the past, it is an essential lifeline for our state.
Yes on Proposition 21
One San Mateo has consistently advocated for robust tenant protections. We will continue to do so as long as there is a pressing need for them. And the need now, in the midst of the worst public health crisis in a century, is greater than ever. Indeed, many experts are warning us that we are about to see the biggest wave of mass evictions in our country’s history. While Proposition 21 would not put in place any new tenant protections, it would give cities greater freedom to craft tenant protections and other housing regulations that are in line with the needs of today. The time to finally reform California’s unfair and restrictive Costa-Hawkins Act is now.
For info on propositions that fall outside of One San Mateo’s focus on housing, please see this helpful guide from our allies over at Faith Votes.
What: Candidates’ forum for San Mateo City Council
When: Tuesday, September 15 from 7 to 8:15 p.m.
Where: Virtually by Zoom (link provided to those who register)
Three candidates are vying for two available seats. The voters must decide.
Which of the candidates will enable the city to meet its urgent affordability needs? Which will commit to prioritizing the interests of inclusion and racial equity? Which will position the city to meet the challenges that lie ahead?
To help voters decide, One San Mateo, in conjunction with the People’s Alliance of San Mateo County, will conduct a candidates’ forum on Tuesday, September 15. All three candidates—Diane Papan, Amourence Lee, and Lisa Diaz Nash—will be present.
To register for the forum, please click here.
Bio (from dianepapan.com):
“Former Mayor and San Mateo City Councilmember Diane Papan provides San Mateo families with the experienced, effective leadership we rely on in extraordinarily challenging times.
A recognized regional and local leader, Diane champions San Mateo’s interests on regional boards including the City & County Association of Governments, Council of Cities, 101 Express Lanes Joint Powers Authority, and Flood & Sea Level Rise Resiliency Board – where she advocates for regional emergency preparedness, traffic relief, and conservation for our safety and quality of life.
As your Councilmember, Diane has promoted efforts to effectively respond to the health crisis locally, while continuing to address traffic reduction, affordable housing, and public safety.
Diane has experience not only in the public sector but in the private and non-profit sectors. She has her own law practice, specializing in commercial law, representing individual and small family businesses. She runs a non-profit providing new clothes to in-need school-aged kids and a scholarship program that provides unique scholarships to special ed students and “late bloomers” many of whom are the first in their families to attend college. Prior to being elected to the Council, she held positions of leadership in her daughter’s public school and in her neighborhood.
A graduate of UCLA undergrad and Hastings Law School, Diane, her husband Dan, their teen-aged daughter who attends Aragon High School and their dog Juno live in the Baywood neighborhood.“
Bio (from amourencelee.com):
“11 years ago, we found our forever home and started our family in San Mateo. It was truly the first place I felt an instant sense of belonging. At the time, I couldn’t have known all the things I’d come to love about San Mateo, but I did feel it. There’s the beautiful tapestry of Art Deco, Craftsman, and Spanish Revival architecture – not to mention 200 acres of open space. Authentic bratwurst, empanadas, Irish brew, Taiwanese stinky tofu — all on a single downtown block. I felt a kinesthetic sense of familiarity and, on my first visit, the decision was made that this is where we’d make our life.
As your Councilwoman, I am working every day to build a future for all of us, without sacrificing what makes our City so special. We face generational social and economic challenges. Too many San Mateans are being left behind, priced out and excluded from our governance. In this moment more than ever, we need experienced leadership with proven ability to bring people together at City Hall to protect the safety, vibrancy and diversity of our community.
As a mother, nonprofit executive, and successful businesswoman, I have dedicated my life to creating healthy communities and families. I have extensive training in public policy and public health from Columbia University, combined with a 15+ year career building strong organizations and communities. Since 2019, I have had the privilege and honor to serve on the City Council representing you and championing our values of inclusivity, prosperity and resilience.
When I was appointed to the City Council, San Mateans coalesced around the promise and hope for our future. I received a broad-base of community support from all neighborhoods and across all of the traditional divides in our community, and the “people’s choice” could not be ignored. We all shared one thing, a desire for a new generation of leadership with a fresh perspective, a track-record of meaningful community service, and the courage to be an independent voice for all San Mateans.
In the community and in City Hall I have demonstrated integrity and impact. I stand on my record and our community stands with me because I am always on the side of San Mateo. I humbly ask for your vote this November, together we can build bridges that will bring us together and forward!”
Lisa Diaz Nash
Bio (from lisaforsanmateo.com):
“Our family has lived in San Mateo County for nearly 30 years. After our two daughters grew up, my husband and I moved near downtown San Mateo, drawn to its beauty and unique neighborhoods.
I was eager to serve my community. I applied and was appointed Vice President of the San Mateo Library Board and Chair of the Measure S Citizens’ Oversight Committee, where I serve today. I also currently am a Director of San Mateo’s Neighborhood Watch Board and my Baywood homeowners’ association. Finally, I am Co-Captain of the Peninsula Chapter of Sister District Project, working to engage voters in state legislative races across the country.
I have a rich and diverse heritage. My mother’s family were pioneers who settled Michigan in the 1830’s. My father’s family were first generation immigrants from Italy and Spain, by way of Cuba. I grew up in New Jersey and Peoria, Illinois.
After college, I studied Mandarin Chinese in Hong Kong and Taiwan and worked in China. I stayed in Asia nine years as an Asia-wide marketing executive with American Express. My husband and I lived in Hong Kong, Seoul, and Sydney, Australia, where the first of our two daughters were born.
Upon returning to the States, we were recruited to VISA in San Mateo. I went on to help launch international online trading for Charles Schwab, manage all customer relationships at E*TRADE, lead marketing for the millions of customers on the Yahoo! website and guide Bay Area start-ups.
In 2005, I overcame a near-death PG&E accident that made me stronger and taught me deep empathy for people struggling with serious life challenges. That experience reinforced my commitment to working with my community to improve the lives of others, and to act with a sense of urgency to achieve my goals.
After my accident, acting on my passion for the environment and women’s empowerment, I led a global clean water and sanitation nonprofit. Over the next eight years, I’m proud to have helped enable health care, clean water and economic opportunities for over two million people, the majority of whom were women and girls. I continued to be deeply involved in local and national progressive, environmental and women’s issues in order to contribute to my larger community.
As a San Mateo City Council Member, I will tap into my 30+ years of experience as a successful business executive, nonprofit CEO and San Mateo civic advocate. I will use what I have learned from San Mateo residents to deliver a better tomorrow for all San Mateans.
I welcome your input and look forward to being on this exciting journey together!”