San Mateo, CA – March 1, 2018

Today we signaled our intent to file a lawsuit against the City of San Mateo, CA alleging that the city violated the state’s Housing Accountability Act with an unlawful denial of a housing project. In 2017, a modest housing project was proposed for 4 West Santa Inez Avenue that would add 10 units to the Bay Area’s already scarce housing supply. On February 5, 2018, San Mateo City Council voted to deny the project.

The City of San Mateo denied the project on the grounds that “the structures, site plan, and landscaping are not in scale and are not harmonious with the character of the neighborhood”. We allege that the city’s reason for denial of the project was based on subjective criteria, which is a violation of the Housing Accountability Act’s requirement that projects be denied for objective, well-defined criteria.

“Ten homes may not seem like the solution to the state’s housing shortage,” says CaRLA Executive Director Victoria Fierce, “but every every home counts. The remedy for the housing shortage will be the sum of many individual new housing units. In the struggle to secure the human right of housing for all, we must use every means available to us.”

“We can’t let exclusive suburbs like San Mateo off the hook” added CaRLA co-founder Sonja Trauss. “We have to take the fight against gentrification to the place where it starts – in the high cost, highly desirable suburbs that have historically been very good at keeping new housing, and new people out. That demand doesn’t just disappear. … Housing must be built in every kind of neighborhood: high density apartment housing near transit and in big city downtowns, medium density multi-family on small town main streets, and also single family homes on underutilized lots in exclusive low density neighborhoods.”

“The Bay Area’s wealthy enclaves cannot break the law with impunity,” said attorney Ryan Patterson. “As we have done elsewhere in Berkeley and Sausalito, we will compel San Mateo to obey state housing mandates and approve code-compliant projects.”

Read our submitted letter below: