Name: Kevin Burke
County: San Mateo
Subject: Right ideas but not sure we're changing NIMBY incentives
I am glad you identify housing as a core priority, but I am worried that the plan does not address the fundamental incentives that lead towns and cities to underproduce housing.
Specifically, planning processes that are unclear and uncertain in their outcomes and can take years to complete. Neighbors that can pay $600 to subject a project to "Discretionary Review" (in SF) triggering months of delays. Neighborhoods that can vote to downzone themselves. Most of the west side of SF is zoned for single family housing, even along the N and 38 transit corridors.
Homeowners have a huge incentive to store value in their homes and prevent new housing near them, due to Prop 13, the success rate of stalling tactics and CEQA lawsuits, and the already high cost of rents in the area. If we don't change the incentives facing homeowners or towns that block housing projects then we'll have more money for housing but still a shortage of places to put it and the same delays and setbacks in building that we have now. Or we'll be in situations like the Baylands, where the developer wants to build housing and the community wants an office park.
The comments about CEQA reform are helpful but I would like to see this go further; I would like to see you advocate for reforming Prop 13, to reduce the incentives people have to use their home as a store of value. I would also like to see you advocate for ministerial approval for more types of projects, and streamlined guidelines for regional Planning Commissions for approving and greenlighting housing developments.
We need to reduce the number of tools NIMBY's have to block projects (or convert them to offices) or it's not clear what putting more money in the pot will do.