After approving the moratorium for portions of downtown San Mateo which limits first-floor space to retail businesses, City Council voted last night to approve the recommendation of an urgency ordinance for a second moratorium on 25th avenue. The council voted unanimously in favor of the second moratorium.
Councilmembers raised concerns that people with businesses in other areas around the city would soon come to the city requesting moratorium after moratorium.
"I think this is important but I really don't like moratoriums," Councilmember Paul Gumbinger said. "People will be requesting them all over."
However, all the councilmembers agreed that the study following the moratoriums was important to the city.
Councilmember Claire Mack, who previously voted against the first moratorium, had a change of heart at this meeting and said she would vote to approve the moratorium because she feels the study is necessary.
Mack also hopes the moratorium will help diversify the city. "I don't like to see groups of people coming in and making it their own place, like a Korea-town, or a Japan-town or a Africa-town," she said. "We need to diversify so that one section of the city is not just one group of people."
The planning commission, after enacting the moratoriums, will conduct a large study to see what the effect the moratoriums will have on the city.
Councilmember Sue Lempert was concerned that although the city does have control on what businesses it wants to keep out, it does not have control what comes in.
"I wish our role was more positive, I wish we had incentives to bring retail in," Lempert said.
"If we have all these vacant spots on 25th and downtown, it will make us look like idiots."
All councilmembers agreed upon this point, however, Councilmember John Lee stated that the city cannot be afraid to change.
"We have to change with the market, it's important we make a quick decision and get an even quicker study done," Lee said. "The merchants have asked for our help and we should do it."
Planning Commissioner Mary Gallagher, who gave the presentation on the moratorium to the council, said the legislation which is made after the moratoriums (which would last 45 days, and then up to 10 and a half months) should not be permanent.
"The economy plays a large role in zoning, when the economy changes the zoning needs to change," Gallagher said. "The legislation going in for zoning should be for one year, or three years, instead of 20 years."
The planning commission will come back to the city council at the Oct. 16 meeting to ask for the extension of the moratorium for the downtown area.
Gallagher said the commission will then wrap the two moratoriums together and ask the council to