City of San Mateo considers ballot measure request to extend height/density limits, short-circuit General/Downtown Plan 

Tonight, the San Mateo City Council is responding to request from a group of citizens to put a measure on the ballot to extend the city’s height and density limits, short-circuiting an ongoing community process to update the General Plan and Downtown Plan, where residents have shared a variety points of view about the benefits and drawbacks of density and height.
If Council won’t do it, the citizens have said that they will gather signatures to put a measure on the ballot to extend Measure P for ten years til 2030.
Recently, a couple of housing/mixed use developments in San Mateo’s Rail Corridor Plan area have provided fewer affordable housing units than they might have under state law, because they were restricted by the city’s density limits.
One of the concerns that staff raised in the staff report about a risk for the city council in putting a measure on the ballot, is lack of time to do required environmental analysis.   According to a new update to California’s environmental quality act, the transportation impact of land use plans and projects needs to be assessed according to the amount of “vehicle miles traveled” per person will be generated.
If the ballot measure would mandate a scenario with less residential density near transit, services, and jobs, that could potentially result in more driving per person than the alternative.  Your blogger is not a CEQA lawyer, but this does sound like something the city would logically need to study.
What do you think about a ballot measure to limit homes near transit, jobs and services? Come in person, or let city council know by email:

Maureen Freschet <mfreschet@cityofsanmateo.org>
city clerk: Patrice Olds <polds@cityofsanmateo.org>

In related San Mateo news and opportunities to weigh in:

*  Also tonight, the city council is also deciding on whether to reverse Planning Commission’s denial of a 10-condo housing development at El Camino Real and Santa Inez, a short walk from Downtown Caltrain and services.   The development meet’s the city’s zoning for the El Camino Real corridor, and it is not clear whether the city is legally allowed turn it down under the Housing Accountability Act, which requires the city to approve housing that meets zoning and review criteria.

* This coming Wednesday, February 7 the city is hosting a meeting to get feedback on topics relating to the Downtown Plan. The meeting replicates the Built Form & Public Realm exercise held last August.  If you missed the meeting over the summer, this is a good opportunity to share your thoughts. The meeting is from 7:00-8:00 p.m.San Mateo Senior Center, 2645 Alameda de las Pulgas.

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