The Bay area has long been in a housing and traffic crisis with insufficient housing and insufficient transit to meet many years of job and population growth. Low housing inventory resulted in dramatically increased housing costs, making it very difficult for low, moderate, and even upper income earners to find suitable housing near their workplace. Homelessness is a major problem.
This situation created a huge demand to build more housing, wherever and whenever possible, including here on the San Mateo County coast. Pressure has mounted to sidestep important legal processes, like the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), that are in place to ensure environmental protection and public safety, and to mitigate traffic problems.
Housing development should concentrate density in urban centers with sufficient infrastructure, and supporting services and transportation, not in rural, semi-rural areas like the San Mateo County Midcoast that lacks public transit, community services and infrastructure.
Midcoast ECO recognizes the need for affordable housing, and urges the building of housing projects to be focused in opportunity-oriented, transportation-efficient communities that support income-challenged residents to advance economically. Housing projects should be developed where there is sufficient infrastructure, and supporting services, schools, shopping, local jobs, community offerings, public transit and walkability. This would reduce Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) which is a major goal of affordable housing advocates. Furthermore, when housing projects are created, there must be legal mechanisms in place to give preference to those who are already working in the community.
The San Mateo County Coast is unique in that there is just one road in through and out. Increased housing and development in isolated semi-rural areas without adequate supporting infrastructure and services is a disservice to current residents and to the affordable housing beneficiaries who would face an increased transportation burden.
We support a long-term view of housing development that protects rural, semi-rural areas and concentrates density in urban areas that have adequate infrastructure and which will not contribute to additional traffic issues. We support the vision set forth by both the Local Coastal program (LCP) and San Mateo County Transportation Plan 2040:
Local Coastal Program
“Allow some future growth to develop at relatively high densities for affordable housing in areas where public facilities and services are or will be adequate and where coastal resources will not be endangered.”
San Mateo County Transportation Plan 2040
"The San Mateo County has established an urban / rural boundary in the Coastal zone with the goal of channeling growth into defined urban areas while restricting growth in rural areas. In addition, increased densities can only be considered if there is adequate highway capacity, as well as other services that accommodate increased activity."
"Promote higher density residential, employment, and mixed‐use development near transit stations and along major bus transit corridors throughout the County to create pre‐conditions for improved linkages between land use and transportation alternatives to the single occupant automobile.”
In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a sudden and terrible impact on public health, jobs, education, transportation and the economy. The Bay Area is in the early stages of adjusting to a very different future that is yet to be revealed. Many small businesses and service jobs will never recover. New scenarios such as “work from home” and “social distancing” are evolving that could significantly alter housing/transit demand, jobs, the commercial landscape and housing.
California is facing a huge budget deficit due to Covid-19 related impacts. Initial California budget cuts are in the works with deep slashes to education, roads, and public health. The pandemic has only magnified problems with building large multi-unit housing projects in remote places that lack infrastructure. Housing projects need to be re-evaluated under these emerging Covid-19 conditions. The outlook for resolution of the pandemic is very uncertain as is the outlook for the economy to recover.