Opposing Measure Y in San Mateo will end obsolete city-wide height and density limits that date back as far as 1991. For decades, Measure Y has restricted San Mateo’s ability to provide new housing options for the city and its small businesses and workers. Measure Y extends bad policy that has been largely responsible for the community’s failure to provide homes for our nurses, teachers, and essential workers—our local heroes.
In recent years, Measure Y has actively prevented more affordable housing from being built by limiting how many homes can be built on a piece of land. This forces many housing developers to build fewer, but much larger units marketed as luxury apartments. These trends would be problematic anywhere, but in Silicon Valley they are catastrophic.
Measure Y is an example of exclusionary zoning. It imposes a height and density rule of 55 feet tall and 50 dwelling units per acre on every parcel in San Mateo, including the transit-oriented districts adjacent to the three Caltrain stations. If renewed, it will burden the city with an outdated building policy for another decade when what we really need is more climate SMART development.
This density limit is particularly detrimental to supportive affordable housing. The density of special needs housing is almost always over 100 units per acre, even if it is only two stories. Nonprofit builders put resources into on-site services, they need to be able to create buildings that can house enough people to justify the costs. This is why the density limits are so harmful, particularly to transitional and special needs housing.