Affordable Housing White paper

At the direction of the Board of Supervisors, County of San Mateo staff is currently researching 11 possibilities for preventing displacement and promoting affordable housing development.

Options to Assist Current Tenants

A countywide tenant’s rights education and assistance program

The program would provide legal advice, help residents resolve their housing issues and prevent and defend evictions. The recommendation is to develop a work plan, timeline and budget for the program including an estimate of tenants to be assisted.

Rent stabilization and just cause eviction ordinances

A rent stabilization ordinance would limit the annual increase in rent for units in applicable multi-family buildings constructed before 1995. The just cause eviction ordinance would define possible causes for eviction protecting tenants in rent-controlled units from being ousted simply because the landlord wants to raise the price. The ordinances would only apply to the county’s unincorporated areas.

Extend the 21 Elements program

The collaborative project, jointly sponsored by the San Mateo City and County Association of Governments (C/CAG) and the Department of Housing, brings together all 20 cities to work on their respective Housing Elements and share resources, costs and best practices. Funding ends June 30, 2015 but the recommendation is to develop a budget and funding proposal for two more years to work on consistent housing policies countywide.

Options for Creating More Affordable Units

Promoting second units

The County could revise its Second Unit Ordinance zoning and parking requirements and develop a Second Unit Program with pre-approved design templates, a guidance manual for builders and a finance program.

Legalizing unpermitted second units

The steps including streamlining the process to legalize second units, amending zoning provisions that might impact legalizations such as setback requirements, reducing permit fees and providing rehabilitation loans. The program would include a deed restriction requirement that units remain affordable for a specified number of years.

Tiny Houses

One option is developing small residence prototype program offering property owners pre-approved plans for small residences.

Adopting a “no net loss” policy

The policy would establish replacement requirements for affordable units lost to new development.

Create an affordable housing overlay zone

Such a zone for the North Fair Oaks community, implemented in connection with zoning changes needed to implement the North Fair Oaks Community Plan, would provide incentives to developers to increase the number of affordable units in projects within the designated area.

Revise, as needed, the County’s inclusionary zoning ordinance

This recommendation is predicated on whether the California Supreme Court upholds the ability of communities to enforce inclusionary zoning.

Develop legally defensible impact fee policies

To be legally defensible, commercial and residential impact fees require a “nexus” study connecting the use of the fee to the proposed development. The 21 Elements Project has commissioned such a study and the results will be available in June 2015. Staff will present them to the Board of Supervisors then and outline options for next steps.

Expand and promote shared housing programs

In collaboration with community partners, a countywide marketing campaign to recruit and retain more home providers would create more affordable units within the existing housing stock. HIP Housing, which operates a home sharing program in San Mateo County, reports it has 10 interested individuals for each homeowner interested in sharing their home.

SMC Board of Supervisors Special Session: Affordable Housing