Planning for the future while maintaining character is the delicate balance all Peninsula cities are facing as we enter the next decade after the Great Recession and the economic expansion that took many by surprise.
That economic expansion caused the cost of living to rise, along with the price of housing. One method to ameliorate those rising costs has been to increase the supply of housing, which South San Francisco has employed in recent years. Another recently employed method is to require in-lieu fees and inclusionary zoning requirements that will create below-market rate units in any new development.
But that new construction is also sparking concern by many longtime residents of the changing character of the city and the risk that many of them may be forced to leave because the new economy is leaving them behind. That is the balance the council must face, and that is the primary issue in the South San Francisco City Council race.
Kamala Silva is an articulate representative of those concerned about the changing character. She is bright, connected and responsive. Many of her ideas should be employed. Yet Planning Commissioner Mark Nagales is more connected with the idea of not only maintaining character but ensuring there is room at the table for the next generation in pushing for more housing affordability. In every discussion on new housing, Nagales is there pushing for below-market rate units as a way to keep the working class and younger residents here. He is data-driven and accommodating to current residents as a native of the city. It is important to bring the younger generation to the table and Nagales will be able to provide that connection.
Addiego has been a rock-solid civil servant for about 20 years with a ready command of the city’s issues from development and housing to its finances and the can-do attitude that will be needed to get its Civic Center revamp done. While it is easy to complain about the conditions created by the economic boom, he is quick to point out that it is far better than high employment and severe worries about finances. He knows the city’s past, its challenges it has overcome and is ready to proceed into the future in a unique way that South City has over the years.
Gupta too is a steady influence on the council. He has a firm grip on the city’s challenges and has stepped up into the role of regional leader on a number of issues. He recognizes the severe challenges South City, along with all cities, face when it comes to pension obligations, affordability, transportation and parking problems and can offer both a regional and local perspective on solutions.
The other candidates in this race offer their unique positions and provide helpful points of view. However, your best bets for managing the myriad challenges the city of South San Francisco faces are Addiego, Gupta and Nagales.