Willow Housing Project

After a thoughtful discussion and considerable public testimony, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to prepare a ballot measure asking voters to approve a 20-year extension of the existing 1/2 cent Measure A sales tax. 

The impetus for this decision sprang from the work of #ClosingtheJobsHousingGapTaskForce. What became abundantly clear to the Board through the work of this task force and the continuing displacement of residents is that the County needs a revenue stream to preserve and create affordable housing. To address this problem, three options were made available to the board for their consideration: 1) to ask for voter approval of a housing bond, 2) to ask for voter approval of an extension of the sales tax measure, and 3) to do nothing, keeping the status quo.

To help them evaluate these options, the Board commissioned a poll from Godbe Research, a public opinion research firm. From the poll, they learned that voter support for a sales tax extension was the strongest option and that a housing bond with a higher threshold for passage (2/3rds vote) would likely fail. The Board found the status quo position to be unacceptable. They opted to ask voters to extend the sales tax for 20 years, even though a general sales tax cannot be designated for a single purpose unlike a housing bond. They recognized that a longterm source of sales tax revenue would provide the Board and the County with the revenue necessary to invest in affordable housing AND enable them to respond to other types of pressing, unforeseen needs that will undoubtedly arise.

I'm very proud of the commitments that our Board of Supervisors has made to address housing needs over the past three years. We've allocated about $60M commitment our Board toward housing initiatives and advanced important work, made our partnering applications for affordable housing succesful ventures, and fueled the conversation and development of creative solutions to add housing at all levels. I would be remiss if I didn't thank the elected, business, community, labor, and faith-based leaders and housing advocates who are working together with us to seek solutions.