One of the aspects that makes Burlingame special is that we have always been an economically diverse community; even in the earliest days we were a mix of grand estates and blue collar bungalows. This is an intangible strength of our community and I want to keep it that way, but escalating rents and home prices are pushing people away. Often times (though not always) it is out-of-town investors buying buildings and converting them away from affordable units that is causing so much heartache. That does not sit well with me.
While the Council and our community declined to pursue rent control as an appropriate measure, I am working with colleagues to expand the amount and type of affordable housing in Burlingame. I led the charge for an affordable housing project on city land that will create 140 new units for low income seniors and working families, and I supported passing "impact fees" on new development that will help build an affordable housing fund for future projects; indeed, I argued for higher fees for new office development.
But there is much more to do. Here is what I want to work on:
-- convene a housing summit so that we look at the most cost-effective ways to protect existing affordable buildings, perhaps through tax or other benefits for land owners
-- ensure our current ordinances regulate AirBNB and other short term rentals appropriately, so that there is not an unfair advantage that incentivizes land owners to convert existing stock into short term rentals
-- gather data on existing market conditions so that we can discuss and debate the current conditions with data, not with anecdotes.
This is a thorny but critical issue for our community and we must not shy away from it because it is hard.