Tonight at 5:30pm: San Mateo’s City Council considers more affordable homes, plus a potential loss of homes to a freeway ramp

Tonight at 5:30pm: San Mateo’s City Council considers more affordable homes, plus a potential loss of homes to a freeway ramp

What: Tonight, San Mateo’s City Council is meeting for a special study session to discuss two important items related to housing.

Where: City Hall Conference Room C at 330 W. 20th Avenue, San Mateo, CA 94403

When: Monday, February 3rd at 5:30pm

There are two topics at this study session that we’re interested in:

  1. Affordable homes downtown

San Mateo has a great affordable housing project in the pipeline, proposed for two adjacent downtown parcels at 480 E. 4th Avenue and 400 E. 5th Avenue.  The City chose MidPen Housing, a local affordable housing developer, for the site.

Rendering of the affordable housing project

The City and MidPen Housing are exploring the implications of recently-passed AB 1763, which is a new state law that allows 100% affordable housing projects to benefit from greater height/density when they’re near transit.  At tonight’s meeting, the city will discuss the consequences of increasing the number of units at this project site from 164 to 225. We’d love to see this affordable project grow in this way, given the lack of affordable units in the area.

MidPen Housing believes the impact of the additional units will be minimal since a majority of the proposed additional units will be studio apartments.  They expect that a lot of demand for these units will come from seniors and other residents who are less likely to own cars — especially since the site is in Downtown San Mateo and close to several transit stops.

We’re so excited to see this project proposed, especially with the “density bonus” that’s up for discussion.  Please join us in voicing your support for this fantastic development, including the additional homes.  

Unfortunately, the second item up for discussion at the study session involves a potential loss of units:

2. Peninsula Ave Interchange Project

The City of San Mateo is exploring whether to move the existing Highway 101 on- and off-ramps from Poplar Ave. to the interchange at Peninsula Avenue.

The Poplar ramps, as they function today, do present safety concerns especially since they route traffic directly through a residential area that’s adjacent to the highway.  

However, as indicated in the city’s Agenda Report, the city is considering whether it needs to acquire 28 parcels of land in order to move the ramps as described.  Materials on the project website seem to show that homes would be removed:

Please join us in asking the city for additional detail on the parcel acquisition proposal, including the number of homes that would be affected.  We’d also like to know what the city plans for affected residents (especially sensitive populations like renters), and we’d like to encourage solutions that don’t displace people.

Can’t make it tonight?  Please reach out to the City Council at

The Peninsula Ave Interchange

Local update: Growing momentum for SB-50

We’re excited to see all the positive energy behind CA State Senator Scott Wiener’s housing bill, SB-50, as we begin 2020.  For those not up to date on the latest with the bill, it’s designed to open up additional possibilities for housing near transit, and in communities that are rich in jobs but light on housing. Here are some of the most recent endorsements:

We’re glad that local governments are taking the time to formally voice their support for the bill.  We know it’s popular with local constituents; residents in Redwood City, San Mateo, and San Carlos supported SB-50 by a 9-point margin in a survey recently conducted by local civic engagement advocate Voca (source).  

In Milpitas, City Council voted 4-0 (Mayor Rich Tran abstained) to endorse the bill.  As first reported by the Milpitas Beat:

“Milpitas is not a city that sits back and watches,” said Vice Mayor Bob Nunez, as he urged his fellow councilors to support SB50. “We help shape the future of this county. And to do that we have to remember to step up at the beginning.”

Albany’s City Council also participated in a presentation on SB-50 and the housing crisis, and voted 4-1 to endorse the bill in a forthcoming letter.

San Mateo City Council discussed their prior opposition to the bill, and voiced that they didn’t want to be “a poster child for NIMBYism” in the area.  After a 3-2 vote, they agreed to withdraw their former opposition to the bill.

We encourage more local governments in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties to join their peers and formally support the bill in response to the wishes of their constituents.  The housing crisis impacts quality of life for us all, and we’re glad local governments are supporting SB-50 as one of many tools in the toolkit to begin to fix it.

Don’t forget to voice your support for SB-50 by contacting your local representatives via California YIMBY’s easy tool! Every voice matters.

Monday, January 27th: Come champion housing at Redwood City’s City Council meeting

Monday, January 27th: Come champion housing at Redwood City’s City Council meeting

On Monday January 27th at 7pm, Redwood City’s City Council will discuss the city’s Central Redwood City plan, focusing on Sequoia Station and the creation of a new Transit District:

Source: Redwood City Staff Report

Meeting details:

Where: Council Chambers: 1017 Middlefield Road Redwood City, CA 94063

When: Monday, January 27th at 7pm

What: Agenda item 9.A: Discuss next steps for a City-led Central Redwood City Plan including the Transit District, Sequoia Station General Plan Initiation, Community Visioning and Gatekeeper Process


We’re excited about Redwood City’s focus in this area of town.  Downtown Redwood City’s redevelopment in the 2010s brought many great jobs, revitalized shopping/entertainment options, and some new housing to the area, all in an area well-served by the Sequoia Station transit center. 

The existing Sequoia Station development is one story with a large surface parking lot for the Station’s businesses.  We’re glad the city is looking at smarter ways to make use of this space as a dense, walkable place with a mix of uses that serves the residents, commuters, and workers in the area.  

We think this is a great location to create additional homes to help balance the recent job creation in town.  The Station is easily walkable to transit connections, local jobs, and shops and services, which will make it very easy for future residents to go car-free.

At Monday’s meeting, City Council will discuss the proposed community visioning process for this area.  Please join us in supporting:

  • A well-rounded outreach/community vision process that takes on board feedback from all members of the community: young and old, homeowners and renters, and those who work in the community but can’t afford to live there
  • Making the most of this mixed-use development by creating much-needed homes for local workers. 
  • A balanced mix of homes and jobs in the broader downtown area, not just the Sequoia station site.  Given the near-500,000 sqft of office space created in downtown since 2010, this is a perfect opportunity to balance it with additional housing for workers at all income levels.  

The average home sale price in Redwood City is $1,480,000 as of this post’s publication date, which places stable housing out of reach for all but the most highly-paid workers.

The importance of the station

We’re glad that as we look to the next decade, the transit center itself is a next area of focus — especially as Caltrain electrification is coming and will enable much more frequent service and higher ridership. Major changes to the station infrastructure – making it a passing area for express trains to pass locals, and separating the tracks from the downtown streets – could unlock major increases in transit ridership on the entire Caltrain corridor, connect to rail service across the Bay on the Dumbarton corridor, and improve safe downtown connections for people walking, bicycling, taking transit, and driving.  

At the meeting, Council is expected to authorize city staff to develop a memorandum of understanding with the partner transit agencies to plan for the complex and important station infrastructure improvements. 

Especially if you can’t make it on Monday in person, please engage with your local elected officials and Councilmembers to reinforce the importance of including additional housing as this area is redeveloped. You can email the council at:

Additionally, in an upcoming meeting on February 24th, City Council is expected to start a General Plan update process.   Stay posted for more opportunities to make your voice heard.

Sunday June 16: Peninsula Democratic Coalition meeting in Palo Alto

As we all know, 2020 is a huge election year for Democratic candidates. There are many hopeful candidates at this stage in the game, and housing is one of the crucial issues they face.

This coming Sunday, the Peninsula Democratic Coalition is hosting an event focused exclusively on housing policy, aiming to discuss how we can advocate for housing as a unified group of voters. We’ll also learn more about where each of the Presidential candidates stand on housing policy. Please join us:

When: Sunday, June 16th, 1-3pm

Where: Mitchell Park Community Center at 3700 Middlefield Rd, Palo Alto, CA 94303

What: Local leaders Don Weden (the retired Principal Planner from Santa Clara County), Leora Tanjuatco Ross (PDC President), Nicole Fernandez (San Mateo County Democratic Party Chair), and Adrian Fine (Palo Alto Council Member) will lead a discussion about local housing, plans, and how Democrats can present a unified front on issues like rent control and increased housing production.

Sign up here!

p.s. Can’t make the event? You can still contribute to the Peninsula Democratic Coalition’s efforts via the above link.

Saturday June 15: Join Sunnyvale Dem Club in preparing questions for state & county candidates about housing, transport, environment

Please join the Sunnyvale Dems this coming Saturday, June 15th to learn and help prepare questions for candidates, on critical topics including housing, transportation, and climate change.

We’ll learn more about the issues from knowledgeable speakers, and break out into groups to craft questions to find out where candidates stand in the races for State Senate and County Supervisor. You don’t need to be a Sunnyvale resident to attend and participate.

When: Saturday June 15th — 2 to 4 pm
Where: Fairbrae Swim Club: 696 Sheraton Drive, Sunnyvale CA
Cost: Free!

Can’t make it to the event? Follow the Sunnyvale Democratic Club online, and become a member here.