DID YOU ATTEND THE SEPT. 19TH COUNCIL CANDIDATES NIGHT? RESIDENTS SUBMITTED QUESTIONS & 6 OF THE 7 CANDIDATES RESPOND HERE! READ BEFORE THE NOV. 7TH VOTE!
(If you missed the Candidates Night, watch a replay as it will be replayed periodically on the City’s SMTV channel. For a schedule check out the listings at: www.cityofsanmateo.org/193/Channel-San-Mateo-Live-Stream. You may also view any time at:
THANKS TO THE PARTICIPATING CANDIDATES! NOW FOR THE QUESTIONS:
What is your definition of affordable housing? How will affordable housing be allocated?
ROB NEWSOME: My definition of affordable housing is that it is housing that can be afforded for rental or purchase by a family earning a household income between $75K-$105K per year. My wife & I are very fortunate that I bought here so long ago, or like so many of our friends- we would have been “priced out” of San Mateo & the peninsula. That said we need not just more affordable housing for the City of San Mateo, but both “low-income” housing & “ultra-low incoming” housing for our residents. I think that we should have programs in-place to make it possible for teacher’s, first responder’s, and veteran’s to be able to live here where they work, and for seniors to be able to afford to enjoy their retired years here in their homes.
JOE GOETHALS: The city affordable housing program strictly defines affordable housing.
For details, go to http://www.cityofsanmateo.org/DocumentCenter/View/8005.
ERIC RODRIGUEZ: I recognize that “affordable” housing means different things to different people. To stay consistent, I choose to use the standard definitions set by our City guidelines (http://www.cityofsanmateo.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/1808). Housing is also allocated per our City’s guidelines (from link above): “Only households qualifying as lower or moderate income households shall be eligible to occupy Below Market units. Preference shall be given to persons residing or working within San Mateo. Every third unit available shall be offered to an employee of the City of San Mateo meeting theeligibility requirements…”
CHARLIE DRECHSLER: According to recent statistics, the local poverty level per wage earner is set around $70,000/yr. requiring an annual income greater than $100,000 to qualify for very modest housing. I respect regional, state and federal programs giving priority to seniors, veterans, and low and fixed income residents. Cooperating with these diverse and reputable funding sources will maximize our abilities to address our City’s affordable housing needs.
CHELSEA BONINI: “Affordable housing” is federally defined, but I would like to expand this definition locally to include all those who cannot realistically afford market-rate housing – to affordable/workforce housing. This is an imperative local focus because many of our essential community workers do not qualify under the definition of “affordable” housing because they make too much, but not nearly enough to afford market rates.
MARK DE PAULA: My answer to Low Income is $32K a year for a family of four. Affordable Housing is and income of $60K a year for a family of four. How will affordable housing be allocated? The City should not be in the business of property management. The City has only assisted in 1,400 low income housing units since the 1980s.
What are your top two priorities for the people of the city?
ERIC RODRIGUEZ: 1. Traffic & Smart Planning: The number one concern I hear from my neighbors is our worsening traffic congestion–we must make traffic a higher priority. Our quality of life relies on the essential work of ensuring that our unique neighborhood character and safety is not compromised by future development. 2. Fiscal Accountability: I’ll focus on ensuring our City’s long term fiscal health. Maintaining our essential quality of life services requires a proactive approach to saving money, paying own or City’s obligations, and working to ensure our local economy remains strong.
ROB NEWSOME: My two top priorities are Measured Growth & Public Safety.Measured Growth: I want growth to be in conjunction with the growth of public services & sustainability programs. We need to find ways to ease traffic congestion. We need to be sure we are adding classrooms or schools, and improved infrastructure as the city continues to grow. We need to preserve a balance of outdoor space. I want to see San Mateo maintain the high quality of life that I have enjoyed growing up here.Public Safety: San Mateo & the Bay Area as a whole continue to grow & thrive at an accelerated pace. It is important that we work to maintain safe neighborhoods. We need to support services especially for Seniors, as they are such a large part of our city’s demographic. Likewise we need to ensure that we keep our neighborhoods safe for our children. We need to grow our Police, Fire & Public Safety services in conjunction with city growth.
MARK DE PAULA: A building moratorium and balance the deficit.
JOE GOETHALS: Address the serious traffic issues in San Mateo and fix the crumbling infrastructure.
CHELSEA BONINI: Preservation of community diversity, stability and quality of life.
Focus on building housing available to residents at all levels of income.
CHARLIE DRECHSLER: Resiliency and Sustainability. Our City has significant financial commitments to maintain infrastructure, provide services, support local and regional partnerships, improve economic development, honor employee and retiree benefits, and ensure sufficient reserves. Our fee structure for service, permits, project evaluation, parking in lieu and commercial linkage fees must be reviewed, and updated annually. Our citywide business plan should be focused on revenue neutral and revenue generating services, this will ensure a healthier financial future for a resilient San Mateo.
Next, addressing our jobs – housing imbalance, with Transit Oriented Development (TOD) will help ensure the future of San Mateo. Too many commuters are driving to and through our community, for the jobs we provide and not the homes they can afford. Creating a housing inventory will allow our new and young residents to begin their careers and families in new developments, which are required to provide meaningful traffic demand management strategies. Each new development is encouraged to go beyond state standards to ensure the latest sustainable technologies are employed, to preserve our natural and historic resources, to reduce our carbon footprint, and to protect our environment, while providing community benefits. Our community is highly motivated to address parking and traffic concerns, and new development provides the critical funding necessary to improve street traffic, creative parking solutions, improved service with SamTrans, greater connections and safer crossing with Cal Train, improved timing and coordination with Cal Trans, and enhanced pedestrian and bicycle connectivity; this is the direction for a sustainable San Mateo.
How do you plan to address and fix the problems created by building high density housing and lack of parking?
CHARLIE DRECHSLER: Each new development is required to provide sufficient parking, consistent with their approved land use. In light of recent legislation, it may be necessary to expedite review of citywide zoning guidelines, and consider restrictions on projects negatively impacting neighborhoods and business districts. On a positive note, we have seen recent projects making private parking available for public use as a part of their traffic demand management.
ERIC RODRIGUEZ: I believe that we need to revisit our developer impact fees to ensure that they are indeed covering all of the external costs (traffic impact, infrastructure, schools, etc.) created by each development. I also support limiting the practice and increasing the costs of so called in lieu parking payments. Lastly, I support requiring that a certain percentage of traffic impact fees be spent in the vicinity of said development– ensuring that impact on nearby residents is minimized. For improving access to rapid transit, I would focus on making our streets safer for both pedestrians and bicyclists.
JOE GOTHALS: Parking is a serious issue in San Mateo, both at residents’ homes and in our downtown. There used to be a strong incentive to not build costly parking on-site or to pay an in lieu fee. We have dramatically increased the in lieu fee to take away the incentive to pay a fee rather than build the necessary parking. We have also been addressing downtown parking issue with a parking management program that seeks to free up the on street parking by encouraging long term parking in the off street lots. We have also formed a plan to add hundreds of new parking spaces in a lot behind Talbot’s, the former RDA site. Parking in neighborhoods is trickier. Many housing projects approved over 25 year ago were built without adequate on-site parking. This puts a real strain on the neighborhood residents. Projects built in the last five years have all been built with adequate on-site parking. Several councilmembers including myself have advocated for expanding the Residential Parking Permit Program to protect residential neighborhoods from overparked and crowded apartment building on El Camino where residents are not utilizing the on-site parking. I hope to see these kinds of positive changes in the near future.
ROB NEWSOM: We should be building high density housing along transportation corridors like the El Camino Real & the Caltrain corridor, and we shouldn’t build in areas until we have improved the roads in & out of the area to support the growth. I do not believe we should be building micro-units without parking- every new residence should have at 1 parking space so that these developments don’t impact the residents who live around these buildings. We need improved public transit- more trains during rush hours. More cross-town buses & micro-transit solutions. We need more parking structures along the rail corridor.
CHELSEA BONINI: If developers are not going to include the parking spaces, then the in lieu fees need to be sufficient in amount to add the spaces so that the neighborhoods are not impacted.
MARK DE PAULA: I would encourage other Council members to implement a building moratorium on all high density projects until there is a logical answer to gridlock (traffic).
How can access to rapid transit be improved?
JOE GOETHALS: It is very important to me that we make it as easy as possible to access public transit to reduce gridlock on our freeways and highways. Our regional representation on the Samtrans and Caltrain Board must continue to advocate for more frequent pickup times and consistent and convenient locations for pickups. We must support these vital agencies that serve all residents and the environment by reducing car trips and greenhouse gas emissions.
MARK DE PAULA:I am assuming this is related to Caltrain. I have no faith in rapid transit issues. I have gone to the FBI on September 29, 2017 to ask them to investigate Caltrain/Samtrans. They have not done a good job on the mass transit. All cities in their corridor need to work together to improve mass transit.
ROB NEWSOM: I think our mass transit is currently lacking many levels of connectivity. On average only 4 trains travel North & South during rush-hour. For Caltrain if you arrive at Non-Express train stop- there isn’t a way to get to the Express train stops in-time. We don’t have enough parking solutions for both cars & bicycles around the train stations. We need more East to West transit solutions that connect BART in Hayward to our Caltrains corridor in San Mateo. I work in Micro-Transit, & I would like San Mateo to “Crowd-Source” survey it’s residents and determine where the holes are in our transit, so that we can effectively work to improve them.
ERIC RODRIGUEZ: I would want to focus on improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety. Too many of our intersections at busy streets are dangerous and not at all pleasant to cross. We need to renew our commitment to complete streets and vision zero. And this at least would make it easier for more people to get to and from mass transit.
CHELSEA BONINI: Increase ridership by making it more reliable and convenient, improve connections between various public transportation components, make connective travel by foot or bike safer so that the first and last mile are not a deterrent, & support potential tax measures to provide Caltrain with a dedicated source of funding so that higher costs can be alleviated.
CHARLIE DRECHSLER: We can continue to improve access through regular outreach and consistent engagement with regional services, connecting San Mateo to the Peninsula and Bay Area transit agencies. We have many great local resources, volunteer, non-profit, and for-profit organizations who are helping us accomplish our goals for greater connectivity of services, reducing the use of personal vehicles, and striving to address our local ‘first and last mile’ transit needs.
What will you do to make sure that all people – and not just the fortunate few – can have a future here in San Mateo?
ROB NEWSOM: We need to stop exporting manufacturing jobs to outside of the Bay Area or worse- out of state. We need to find housing solutions for people who work in service industry jobs so that they can afford to live in San Mateo without having to make 1.5+ hour commutes. We need better mass transit throughout the Bay Area & beyond so people have reasonable alternatives to driving.
MARK DE PAULA: I am assuming this is directed to housing. I would not put controls on housing.
CHELSEA BONINI: All residents’ opportunity to have a future in San Mateo is dependent upon solving the housing supply and tenant displacement crises. I will prioritize housing for residents at all income levels, preservation of existing affordable housing units, and I will work toward tenant protection solutions, which could include: just cause eviction, a mutually agreeable solution to effect stabilization of rents, mediation, minimum lease terms, among other “tools” that have been identified by Home for All as well as by San Mateo’s Housing Task Force.
JOE GOETHALS: We are all concerned with the rising cost of living and preserving our diversity and the character of San Mateo. Land use is a primary function of the city council. We must plan for zoning residences that are affordable to average residents. We must enforce our inclusionary zoning ordinance. We must work with HEART, HIP Housing, and San Mateo County.
CHARLIE DRECHSLER: Recent history has shown that although the jobs housing imbalance is real, our community was not comfortable with the topic of rent control; the question remains, what reasonable assurances can we provide for rent stabilization in our city? I believe it is appropriate for San Mateo to engage all willing community stakeholders in respectful dialogue to arrive at reasonable solutions. This issue affects the quality of life of thousands of San Mateans, including our elderly on fixed incomes, recent high school and college graduates, and many others who struggle to make ends meet with multiple jobs, bills to pay, and mouths to feed, all while longing for a place to call home. It’s not too much to ask, for our city to provide leadership in an open public forum to address the needs of our residents.
ERIC RODRIGUEZ: I will support policy that helps lower income residents better be able to afford to live here such as maintaining the Below Market Unit provisions in our codes to ensure that a certain percentage of “affordable” units are built within most large developments in San Mateo. I also support building housing that gives preference to our city and county service workers such as teachers and first responders on our downtown City-owned lots.
Do you plan to keep approving rampant development in San Mateo, waiving parking requirements and increasing building height limits without infrastructure and public transportation improvements?
CHARLIE DRECHSLER: Property owners have the right to present plans for development, and city officials have to measure those projects against the community’s best interest. We will continue to scrutinize these projects, and demand the highest level of engagement with quality construction, environmental protections and community benefits. It is important for all neighborhoods tobe vigilant in sharing concerns and ensuring the best fit possible.
ERIC RODRIGUEZ: In some areas of San Mateo where development has been most heavy (thinking specifically about Delaware St. just north or 92), I think it makes sense to wait until the full impact of the buildings already under construction (~600 residential units and 280,000+ sqft of office space) is realized before we build more in that vicinity. Traffic is already horrible there, and I am concerned about making it worse without the appropriate infrastructure.I support maintaining our current voter-approved height limits (although I feel there are some non-height related provisions in Measure H/P that could be improved upon) and look forward to discussing this further with the community.
CHELSEA BONINI: I am a proponent of smart/responsible growth, especially regarding office space. We need to ascertain the impacts of current projects and mitigate current and pending issues from those projects before we approve additional commercial building. I am in favor prioritizing the building of housing downtown within the current height limits as well as in other areas, including preserving current affordable housing structures when feasible and cost efficient.
MARK DE PAULA: I want a building moratorium until the gridlock (traffic) can be addresses. More building is not an answer to a better way of life in San Mateo. Infrastructure needs to be a top priority. Transportation has two parts, roads and a cooperation with Caltrain/Samtrans after a possible investigation is done by the FBI. San Mateo needs the two above agencies to be more transparent.
ROB NEWSOM: No- we need to maintain steady growth, but we should be building high density housing along transportation corridors like the El Camino Real & the Caltrain corridor, and we shouldn’t build in areas until we have improved the roads in & out of the areas to support the growth. I do not believe we should be building micro-units without parking- every new residence should have at least 1 parking space so that these developments don’t impact the residents who live around these developments.
How would you improve San Mateo’s transportation infrastructure?
CHELSEA BONINI: Increase ridership by making it more reliable and convenient, improve connections between various public transportation components, make connective travel by foot or bike safer, so that the first and last mile are not a deterrent to utilizing public transportation. I also support potential tax measures to provide Caltrain with a dedicated source of funding so that higher costs can be alleviated.
ROB NEWSOM: We need to increase lanes & roads for points of egress in and out of San Mateo. We should be working with Caltrans to expand Highway 92 from 2 lanes to 3 lanes. We should be increasing transit to transit solutions- like bus to rail, and bus to BART. We should be looking at cross-town forms of transit and be partnering with companies that specialize in micro-transit solutions at little to no cost to the city.
ERIC RODRIGUEZ: Aside from fully supporting investing in improvements to Caltrain at the regional level, I would focus on ensuring that we make necessary improvements to our aging roads. Too many of our City’s roads are in terrible condition. We must invest in fixing them now or costs will escalate when they completely fail.
JOE GOETHALS: The current 92/El Camino interchange improvements will improve safety and capacity to ease the congestion at the 92/ El Camino interchange. Electrification of Caltrain will double the capacity of Caltrain during peak commute hours. There is a countywide push to encourage accessibility and ridership on Samtrans. The persistent advocacy of San Mateo to get fundingfor grade separations at 25th, 28th, and 31st has paid off and we will soon see access between Bay Meadows and El Camino at these crossings.
MARK DE PAULA: Moving people around is the business of Caltrain/Samtrans. Again, my answer is stated above. Roads need to be repaired, and widened, if possible.
CHARLIE DRECHSLER: As stated in previous responses, I acknowledge room for improvement and believe strongly in supporting local shuttle, SamTrans, and Cal Train connectivity. Our city is a leader on the Peninsula in the development of our pedestrian and bicycle master plans, and we must continue to fold that planning into current and future development. I am a proponent of the Grand Boulevard design concept and look forward to participating in many constructive community meetings for that purpose in the near future. This is a critical element for safely connecting our business districts and neighborhoods throughout San Mateo.
Which neighborhood do you live in?
MARK DE PAULA:The Village.
CHARLIE DRECHSLER: I live in North Shoreview with my family and friends.
CHELSEA BONINI: I live in the Beresford Hillsdale area of Westwood Knolls.
ROB NEWSOM: I live in San Mateo’s Sunnybrae neighborhood with my wife and 2 daughters.
Please replace the horrible, uncomfortable chairs at the Senior Center. We have earned comfort there!
CHELSEA BONINI: If there is anything that we can do about this, I would support it.
JOE GOETHALS: Good idea. Thank you for the feedback.
CHARLIE DRECHSLER: Duly noted.
ERIC RODRIGUEZ: I agree you deserve comfortable chairs at the Senior Center. I’d like to better understand how they can be replaced and whether it’s a matter of funding.
ROB NEWSOM: You certainly deserve better chairs! We need to be sure that we are re-investing in our Senior Center’s, our Rec Centers, and public parks. If elected, I would work to have better accessibility for our citizens so that we can hear what is bothering you, and work quickly to address these concerns while giving you visibility to track the progress.
Have You Thought About the Difference YOU Could Make?
Meet your neighbors, have fun, and make positive impacts in our community by becoming a BHNA Board member for 2018. This October/November we welcome those interested in joining us to move into the new year, and represent our region. Email us today at email@example.com.