San Mateo city leaders vote against measure to extend building height limits

On Monday night, city leaders in San Mateo unanimously voted against a citizen-driven initiative to put a measure on the November ballot that would extend heights limits on buildings and instead will allow the initiative to go before voters in 2020.

Right now, buildings can only be up to five stories high and 50 acres per unit in San Mateo, after Measure P passed in 1991.

"We pay almost double what we used to and there's less and less homes," said Latonya Moon. 

Like many people in the Bay Area, Latonya Moon is struggling to pay rent. She said she pays more than $4,000 to rent a two-bedroom home for her family of four in San Mateo. She supports eliminating height limits for buildings to build more homes.

"The City of San Mateo is no longer a sleepy bedroom community," said Evelyn Stives of the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo. "It's home to SurveyMonkey and tech and financial institutions. We have a responsibility to create the housing for our local workforce and for our service workers downtown."

The citizen group San Mateans for Responsive Government wants to keep height limits and extend them for another 10 years. The group said the city must develop smart and first address the jobs and housing imbalance.

"We've put down roots here," said Michael Weinhauer of San Mateans for Responsive Government. "We live here with our families. Traffic is bad. We don't have the infrastructure. People can't get out of their driveways during rush hour in certain times and again there's a real threat to the suburban nature of San Mateo."

The current height limits expire in 2020. The group collected 7,000 signatures for the measure extension. In the end, city leaders voted down a special election for two reasons including the $150,000 cost and it technically doesn't expire until two years from now.