Category Archives: Quality of Life

A word please…

As BHNA moved into 2017 the organization needed to streamline to operate effectively, with the understanding that we all lead very busy lives.  To do so, we opted for at least 4 general meetings per year (instead of 10), as we acknowledged the importance of keeping our association strong in the face of the many challenges our community will be facing.    BUT YOUR HELP IS ESSENTIAL, TOO!

BHNA serves a critical role in working with the San Mateo United Homeowners Association to represent YOU, and additionally to work toward transparency in our local government. 

Our city (and region) is currently faced with a wide array of challenges, including more higher density development, reduced parking, reduced impact assessments, un-checked eminent domain, raising of building heights (this expires soon!),  re-routing of commuting traffic through traditionally quite residential streets, etc.

YOU CAN SEE WHY OUR NEED FOR A STRONG ASSOCIATION IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER.   Our governmental representatives base their decisions on what they hear – BHNA is seen as a primary leader and a voice of reason who takes the representation of our neighbors seriously.  Without it,  many decisions will be passed without community representation.    

Please let us know if you would like to be a part of this organization!  Every person counts – and you can play an important role in your community. 

Your neighbor, 

Lisa Taner


Toward the end of every year, the BHNA looks for ways to help our local community.  This year, the Board focused on the impacts to families in our area in regard to the cost of living, housing, and the resultant stresses.  With that focus, it was decided that donations would be made to two organizations which are incredibly important to our city.

At our November General Meeting, donations were proudly presented to the Police Activities League and CORA (Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse).  The PAL provides recreational, educational, and leisure activities at little or no cost to thousands of San Mateo


youth, seeking to build a stronger and safer community.  CORA has worked since the 1970’s to provide safety and support for families impacted by domestic violence though education, intervention, legal services and outreach.

The BHNA presented these donations to San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer, Police Activities League Fund Development Director, Lisa Tartaglia, and CORA’s Director of Development, Lynn Engel. (For more information about the PAL, go to  For more information about CORA, go to


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In previous months, we’ve highlighted the many concerns by neighbors in regard to this project, and their disappointment with the Planning Commission’s approval.  At the upcoming January 17th City Council meeting, lot owners will be seeking approval for this mixed-use, high density 5-story development called “Hillsdale Terraces.”  It will be the highest building of this kind in the area.

The acre was originally zoned for 49 residential units. Due to its proximity to the train station, the inclusion of 8 low-income units and some standard amenities, the Planning Commission approved 17 additional market rate units, for a total of 74 units.  Parking will be limited by transit oriented development rules, so only 1.3 spaces will be provided for each 2-bedroom unit.  Will this generate less traffic and more use of public transportation, or more traffic and parking in front of your home?

The BHNA will not be holding a General Meeting in January, so we encourage you to join your neighbors to voice your support and concerns for the quality of our neighborhood on January 17th, at City Hall in the Council Chambers at 7 p.m. (330 W. 20th Avenue).


We’re all pretty familiar with the cost of housing in our region.  It’s getting to be cause for some serious creativity.  People are beginning to look more and more to adding a second “little home” or dwelling in their backyards.

Home owners are exploring or creating alternative living space for visiting in-laws, boomerang college kids, caregivers, aging parents, renters, etc.  With the availability of pre-made accessory sheds, and how-to “little home” TV shows, magazines and websites, the interest and ability for adding increased livable space is within reach. The City of San Mateo Planning department has the latest information on what can be built, when permits are required, and how homeowners can enjoy adding additional space on their properties.

If you are thinking of the same, know the difference between a secondary unit versus an accessory building.  Accessory buildings are exempt from the requirement for interior side and rear yards as long as they are separate from the main building by an area not less than 4 feet in width, and open to the sky. They can be located in the rear 1/3 of of a housing parcel without setback from property line. They cannot cover more than 1/2 of a required back yard, have no additional parking requirement.  Secondary Units, or “Granny” units, must be permitted and are subject to setbacks and zoning regulations. They are either attached or detached from the main house, and have requirements and limits on occupancy.  Size restrictions cannot exceed 640 sq. ft., placement must be in the back or side yard, and an additional parking space is required.

The BHNA will gauge the interest of our members regarding little homes, and likely plan to have the Planning Commission come speak at an upcoming General Meeting.  Stay tuned!



In early 2015, we hosted speakers opposing Plan Bay Area’s brand of development & growth. We had yet to see any significant impacts to our city. But, we were being forewarned that the plan would result in intolerable traffic, taxpayers having to pay for associated infrastructure upgrades (to support the growth), and a change in our region to a more urban, gentrified environment. Also worrisome was that Plan Bay Area was inflexible, & would take much of the decision-making out of the hands of city leaders.

Fast-forward to today, and the BHNA is hearing more from concerned residents. Traffic woes.  Concerns that our city is being permissive with proposed buildings (and those is the pipeline) in regard to increased height and units, with inadequate parking.  Worries about our infrastructure and water.  Tax increases to pay for such. SO, WHAT IS HAPPENING??  The focus of this newsletter will explore some of these concerns, and ways to act if you are interested.


In answer to resident’s increasing concerns over traffic, our City had people in the various neighborhoods meet 10 times this year (from January to May,) to pinpoint their own area problems and come up with suggested fixes.  The BHNA area representative was resident Michael Ragan.  He chaired the Traffic Steering Committee and has recently reported back some worries to the BHNA.

Michael advised us that regardless of the suggestions put forth by the residents, the Neighborhood Traffic Management Plan, adopted in 2006, dictates what can and cannot be done.  After reviewing that plan, Michael says the majority of what residents requested can NOT be done, until and unless the traffic plan is amended.  For five months, involved residents worked together at the request of the city in hopes that their results would create positive change.  Looks like what needs to change is an outdated plan – and quickly.

“Residents of this neighborhood better start waking up,” Michael said.  “Vast changes are coming.” He went on to note that if people wait until plans are put into motion, it’s too late.

Acting now is key. “We need to work together as a community.”

A growing number of residents are beginning to share Michael’s alarm, as impacts grow from development, but city leaders don’t seem to be listening, or doing anything to alter the course.  (Even traffic “relief” in the form of opening up 28th and 31st will be of greater benefit to those commuting through, and not to folks living on or near those streets.)  San Mateans aren’t alone.  Neighboring city residents are sharing the same feelings of inadequate representation and worry.  But now, it is beginning to boil over.



Last month, we brought you information regarding the Hillsdale Terrace project going in at 28th & El Camino.  Here is an update of the most recent planning meeting on the project per Livable San Mateo and resident Shane Tapp’s September 27th Nextdoor posting:

“In short, there were about 80 people attending…They (the Planning Commission) adjourned until October 13, when they plan to complete questions and then have their discussion….There is no public input planned for that meeting.” (Note: Prior to Oct. 13, you may still email input to tschimpp@cityofsanmateo .)

“Most people spoke with passion about parking, scale, density, livability, traffic and safety, but the commissioners asked about garbage chutes, tree roots, sidewalk planters and the like.”

“The SM Planning Board (Planning Commission) disregarded the local community concerns of traffic, congestion, and public safety.”

“This proposed project is a 5-story building that totals a height of 71-feet housing 74 units (well beyond any other within San Mateo – even larger than the high-density Bay Meadows development when compared in scale per acre). It also only allows for 1.07 parking spaces per unit, causing additional overnight parking problems to an area that already experiences parking problems.

None of their (the Commissioners) questions toward the Architect had anything to do with local community concerns on lessing (sic) the property to 3-stories, less units, and more parking. Clearly, the San Mateo Planning Commission is ignoring the residents of the 27th/28th Ave. and the surrounding area.

Link to Sept. 27th Planning Commission Meeting:


MARCH!!  A jaunt to Redwood City illustrates why our sister city is feeling even more pain that we are about development and its impacts.  They are holding a MARCH for everyone impacted by development “fall-out,” (including traffic, business/resident displacement, gentrification, quieting of the taxpayer voice, impacted schools, job loss, etc.).  They invite you to join Oct. 15th at 11 a.m. in front of City Hall in Redwood City (corner of Middlefield & Jefferson).  This is an opportunity for area cities to truly see how residents feel.  Flier appears here:

WRITE!!  Your city planners and council should hear from you!;;;;;

BUT DON’T STOP THERE – Plan Bay Area goes up the chain of command.  Senator Jerry Hill responded to Plan concerns by saying people should start a grass roots movement.  Tell him what you think at: or call

(650) 212-3313.  Don’t forget Assemblyman Kevin Mullin at (650) 349-2200 or

April General Meeting Recap – Earth Month

earthdayOur Lyngso Garden Materials speaker discussed how simple changes to our gardens can make a huge impact on our environment.  The relationship between plants and soil is a living community, and all of the organisms in soil play an important role in soil health and our own health.  We learned so much, including how fertilizers actually eliminate life in the soil.  Rather, grass cycling and applying compost two times a year is the best thing for a lawn. Or choose to get rid of you lawn and go with native plants, which don’t require chemical fertilizers or additional irrigation every week.


belindaClimate Reality Leader & BHNA Board member Belinda Chlouber showed a short movie about the Paris COP21 Conference, where 196 countries reached a historic agreement to stop global warming. We learned about the biggest sources of greenhouse omissions, and saw examples additional global warming issues throughout the world. For more information on this, visit

BHNA Report on the April San Mateo Homeowners United Meeting

RodBy BHNA Board Member Rod Linhares attended & reports:

A primary topic was the Wastewater Treatment Plant. The purpose of

establishing a new Treatment Plant is to upgrade San Mateo’s wastewater collection system, which would be accomplished in three ways: replacing aging infrastructure and facilities, meeting current and future regulatory requirements and ensuring wet weather capacity, and protecting the Bay. Additional education for the entire city and corresponding discussion will be forthcoming.

Following the Wastewater Plant presentation, there was a very brief discussion on Measure AA, the Bay Clean Water, Pollution Prevention and Habitat Restoration Measure. A flyer that opposed the measure was circulated, too.

A SMUHA letter to the City was read regarding proposed changes to the Poplar Creek golf course, expressing the need for recreational amenities in San Mateo, and SMUHA’s desire to be involved in discussions concerning potential golf course alterations.  SMUHA representatives endorsed the letter, and it was submitted

April 22nd.

Poplar Creek Golf Course – Future & FootGolf!


Poplar Creek has become the focus of new city discussions involving its future. Last month, the San Mateo United Homeowners Association sent a letter to City Hall asking that it “…be preserved as recreational green space for all future generations to enjoy.” Mayor Goethals responded that there is significant debt attached to that space, but he appreciates the concern. In regard to the future, he noted, “Each of us must participate in this process to make Poplar Creek the best possible space for the community and our kids.”

Poplar Creek is showing its community value with the recently opened 18-hole, American FootGolf course, located on the front nine holes. Fun for groups or families, FootGolf is a game combining the skills of soccer & golf, using a No. 5 soccer ball with 21-inch holes. FootGolf is open at Poplar daily after 4pm. for groups of up to 6 people at $16 per person on weekdays, and $19 on weekends. Kids 17 & under play every day for just $10. No cleats allowed. Golf carts may be rented for $20. Bring your own ball or rent one for $3 on a first come basis. For more info, check out or call 650-522-4653.

Introducing New Taxes

San Mateo Taxes
San Mateo Taxes

Last month, we reported on San Mateo’s $1 billion price tag for our wastewater treatment upgrades, which will require a sewer tax increase of 9% each year for homeowners to help fund.

waste water treatment

This month, we introduce both sides of the 20 year, $25 million annual funding MEASURE AA is asking taxpayers for. Measure AA, the San Francisco Bay Clean Water, Pollution Prevention and Habitat Restoration Measure, is a proposal that will be on the June 2016 ballot of nine Bay Area counties:




AGAINST: We all care about the Bay, but Measure AA is not about saving the Bay. Measure AA gives a blank check to politicians, & allows its board to increase the tax with a majority vote at will over 20 years. This measure is taxation without representation & has no transparency. Never before have 9 counties been under one tax; a recipe for inequity & unfairness. We already pay federal taxes for the Army Corps of Engineers to steward shoreline/wetlands, so ask, “How many governing special authorities does it take to do the same job?” The list of beneficiaries clamoring for the passage of Measure AA is endless, including tech companies. Last month, their agendized grant guidelines allowed for “grant awards to public and private entities,” which include but are not limited to owners and operators of shoreline parcels in the San Francisco Bay Area, and include federal, state, local and nonprofit entities. Measure AA’s ‘solution’ is not feasible with no coordinated efforts to accomplish its promises. Yet they are spending $2-5 million to get your vote. The public is best served if control stays local.

Vote NO on Measure AA. More info at:



FOR: In June, voters in all 9 Bay Area counties will vote. The “Clean and Healthy Bay Ballot Measure,” would raise at least $500 million over 20 years to fund critical Bay restoration and flood protection projects.   This measure needs 2/3 of Bay Area voters behind it. Measure AA will fund wetlands restoration projects around the Bay that will expand habitats to increase wildlife populations, reduce Bay Pollution, enhance public shoreline access, and protect shoreline communities from flooding. Save The Bay has the chance to work with groups and individuals with whom we may not regularly work and with whom we do not always agree. This includes business groups, organized labor, and a wide array of elected officials and community leaders in a large geographic area. Projects will be prioritized based on their positive impact on the San Francisco Bay as a whole, with provisions to ensure that projects will be funded in each of the Bay Area’s nine counties. These funds would help complete large-scale restoration projects like the ones at Sears Point, Bair Island and the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project.

Vote YES on Measure AA. More info at:

Talking About Traffic

Public Works is continuing their bi-weekly neighborhood traffic forums to gather suggestions from the community. The neighborhood west of Alameda de las Pulgas will have its meeting on April 14th from 7-9 p.m. at Hillsdale High School.  The neighborhood east of Alameda met on March 10th. Their concerns were speeding, spill-over parking from the Medical Center (on 39th Avenue), and backups on Hwys. 92 and 101 (causing cars to cut through the neighborhood). You can also send in your concerns using this link: