As you may have heard, Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to allow more affordable housing types — like duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes — in all residential neighborhoods. It is also currently being considered by our neighbors in Sacramento, South San Francisco and Sunnyvale. It’s clear that this is gaining some political momentum, and I would like to urge you to consider the same action for San Mateo’s General Plan.
A diversity of housing allows greater flexibility for people’s changing needs. Whether it’s the construction of additional units for rental income, or a duplex conversion to accommodate an aging parent, this kind of housing helps fill in the “missing middle” that would enable more of our hard-working neighbors to stay in our city.
And of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that San Mateo’s single-family zoning is steeped in racist redlining policy as outlined in a recent New York Times opinion piece.
I think there’s unwarranted concern that neighborhoods will somehow become unrecognizable overnight. What’s more likely to happen is that a few homes here and there will be retrofitted to accommodate an extra family, and the only obvious difference will be that some buildings have an extra mailbox or two. No, it won’t singlehandedly solve our housing supply shortage, but it is one of several small actions we can take to remedy the situation. The alternative is to continue to push people farther from their jobs and families, requiring lengthy commutes which exacerbates our carbon footprint.
Let’s be a part of this momentous change and legalize fourplexes everywhere.
The letter writer is a member of Peninsula for Everyone and San Mateo homeowner