World's Worst Housing Policies, Episode 1: When San Mateo Reinvented Craigslist
San Mateo County covers roughly half of the exorbitantly-priced peninsula directly south of San Francisco and north of Santa Clara County, part of what is colloquially considered Silicon Valley. In an effort to aid the most vulnerable among the region’s cost-burdened renters, the county government’s Department of Housing funds a Home Sharing program to pair prospective tenants with people looking to rent out a spare room — or even half a room. To sweeten the deal, the program offers a $250... more
Mountain View City Council Votes to Support Rent Control
Mountain View renters clinched a major victory in their municipal legislature last night when the City Council voted unanimously to defend a rent control measure. Previously, Mountain View’s City Council had voted in a closed session to comply with a restraining order against the recently-passed Measure V, filed by the California Apartment Association, a statewide real-estate lobbying group. In another vote behind closed doors yesterday, the council approved a resolution to defend Measure V... more
Lawsuit Eliminates 23 Homes from Redwood City Condo Proposal
A coalition of neighbors in San Mateo County dubbed “Redwood City Residents for Responsible Development” (RCRFRD) successfully leveraged environmental litigation to downsize new development in the downtown area. The developer, Jefferson Res, LLC, submitted applications for a permit in September 2015 for an 8-story condominium building with 91 dwelling units at 603 Jefferson Avenue. After approving it in May of 2016, the City Council voted to deny an appeal brought by two residents in late... more
Mountain View Tenants Rally to Defend Rent Control Measure
Yesterday morning, Judge Beth McGowen approved a restraining order filed against the City of Mountain View by the California Apartment Association (CAA) to halt the implementation of a voter-approved rent control ordinance known as Measure V. The order stipulates that protections against just-cause evictions are to remain in place, meaning that tenants could still feasibly resist evictions filed in anticipation of caps on rent increases. By 4:30pm, the Mountain View Tenants Coalition (MVTC)... more
Race, Class, and Place: Uneven Impacts of the Housing Shortage (Audio)
Two weeks ago, the California Renters Legal Advocacy & Education Fund (CaRLA) hosted a panel discussion on intersectional justice issues arising from the state's housing shortage. An estimated 130 people attended. "Yes, zoning restrictions and requiring multiple approvals harms affordability and increases segregation," said Brian Hanlon, co-founder of CaRLA. Mr. Hanlon gives us the scoop on the four panelists: As a scholar at UCLA, Michael Lens' research interests vary, but he published a... more
YIMBY Party Releasing Comic Book Essay
The Metropolitan Observer is delving into the world of print publishing with one of the most exciting comic book projects this ragtag team of political nerds could imagine. A quick recap: Less than three years ago, local journalist Kim-Mai Cutler blew Bay Area housing politics wide open with her incendiary essay, How Burrowing Owls Lead to Vomiting Anarchists. Cutler sought to redraw alliances where she saw petty, shallow class-warfare rhetoric, and did the math to show how California... more
Menlo Park Approves Fivefold Increase in Housing Near Facebook
At a special meeting last night, Menlo Park’s City Council approved an upgrade to the city’s General Plan by a 4-1 vote, a significant reform to local land-use regulations that have been largely untouched since 1994. After weathering mild controversies over Facebook’s proposal to build workforce housing near their corporate campus, Menlo Park has essentially quintupled its allowable residential capacity. Known as ConnectMenlo, the plan to encourage mixed-use development in Menlo Park has... more
Caltrain Begins Construction to Prepare for Electrified Rail
After enduring years of litigation, the diesel train system connecting San Francisco to the Peninsula and South Bay cities of San Jose and Gilroy will soon be upgraded to an electric rail system, in preparation for integrating with a future High Speed Rail. As part of the Caltrain Modernization Program (CalMod), the agency will begin work this week on the Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project. Over the next three months, Caltrain will be upgrading utilities and testing soil along... more
Analyzing the Palo Alto City Council Election
After facing a deluge of national media scrutiny for its resistance to residential growth, Palo Alto may have begun a new chapter in its history. After so-called “Residentialist” City Council candidates Arthur Keller and Lydia Kou raised upwards of $100,000 to run attack ads on candidates Adrian Fine and Liz Kniss, those in favor of keeping Palo Alto small and quaint now find themselves outnumbered in the city’s legislative body. Hyperlocal pundits believe that the election of Adrian Fine,... more
Palo Alto Council Race Gets Greener, But Not from Grassroots
There are four seats open on Palo Alto’s City Council, eleven candidates vying for them, and hundreds of thousands of dollars pouring into the race. The October cash infusion into two candidate’s campaigns set a new level of political spending for a local race in Palo Alto, raising the eyebrows of residents, journalists, and former elected officials alike. Five families recently donated over $160,000 to “residentialist” candidates Lydia Kou and Arthur Keller. “Residentialist” refers... more