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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
Ballot and voting information for San Mateo County.
This is an archive of a past election.

Burlingame Community Protection Ordinance

Local
November 8, 2016California General Election

City of Burlingame
Measure R - Majority Approval Required

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Election Results

Failed

4,668 votes yes (33.3%)

9,350 votes no (66.7%)

  • 100% of precincts reporting (15/15).
  • 323,303 ballots counted.

Shall the ordinance (a) enacting rent stabilization with an annual maximum to increase of 4% for most multi-family rental residences with certificates of occupancy before February 1, 1995; (b) establishing Just cause for eviction restrictions on most rental residential units, including single family homes and multi-family residences built after 1995; (c) creating a Commission authorized to enact regulations and set fees to implement the ordinance; and (d) 13 superseding prior restrictions on the passage of rent control be adopted?

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Measure R was placed on the ballot by a petition signed by the requisite number of voters in the City of Burlingame. Its operation and effect on existing law are as follows:

(1) A prior voter-adopted measure, Measure T, prohibits the City of Burlingame from directly regulating the rental or sale price of real estate units. The measures that that it repeals Measure T.

(2) The measure establishes a rent stablization program. Rent control applies to multi-family rental units with initial certificates of occupancy before February 1, 1995. Single family homes, condominiums, owner-occupied duplexes or secondary dwelling units, hotels and motels (with occupancies of less than fourteen days), hospitals, certain nonprofits, dormitories, and certain governmental facilities are excluded from rent control.

The ordinance sets base rents for each tenancy and limits rent increases. For tenancies starting on or before March 30, 2016, the base rent is the rent in effect on that date. For later tenancies, the base rent is the initial rent upon occupation, with narrow exceptions. Rent increases in an amount equal to the Consumer Price Index are limited to one per year and cannot be less than 1% nor more than 4%.

The ordinance establishes a Rental Housing Commission, charged with implementing the measure. The five-member Commission is appointed by the City Council. Three commissioners must be tenants. Tenants can petition for rent reductions if landlords provide substandard housing, decrease housing services, or raise rents higher than allowed. Landlords may petition for rent increases to ensure a fair rate of return under limited circumstances. Initial hearings conducted by hearing officers retained by the commission are appealable to the Commission and thereafter to the courts. The Commission operates independently of the Council and senior City management. The Commission has the authority to set fees on rental units subject to rent control and just cause for eviction to be paid by the landlords of such units. The City's general fund must advance the costs of setting up the program. It is unclear whether those costs would be fully reimbursed and whether the program or the City's general fund would have to pay for litigation regarding the program.

(3) Just cause for eviction restrictions apply to rent controlled units, as well as single family homes, condominiums, and most multi-family rental units, regardless of when constructed. Landlords may terminate a tenancy for failure to pay rent, breach of lease, nuisance, criminal activity, and failure to grant reasonable access. Landlords may evict tenants but must provide relocation assistance for repairs, owner move-in, withdrawal of the unit from the rental market, and demolition. Relocation assistance must equal at least three months' rent for a similar unit, and tenants have first right of return if the unit is re-rented. Tenants who are disabled, terminally ill, or 62 or older and who have occupied their units for more than 5 years may not be evicted for owner move-in except under limited circumstances. 

— City Attorney of Burlingame

Arguments FOR

Sky rocketing rent increases threaten to destroy your community.

Valued teachers, nurses, public safety workers, and their hardworking families are leaving Burlingame as rents become unaffordable.

A nearly 30-year old law makes it impossible for the City Council to meaningfully address the housing crisis.

Handcuffing our local leaders, the existing, outdated law is a destructive vestige of the past.

Measure R will protect Burlingame's future.

Vote to protect Burlingame. Vote YES on Measure R.

Measure R makes housing costs predictable and stable, freeing Burlingame residents from constant fear of losing their homes. Rents have skyrocketed in recent years. Wages have not kept pace, putting profound stress on our community. As we lose our family and community members, we lose Burlingame's quality of life.

Measure R is a fair and common sense solution:

 * Allows rents to be raised 1 to 4% annually, depending on inflation (typically 2 to 3%);

 * Allows larger rent increases for increased maintenance costs on property taxes;

 * Limits evictions to specific situations (unpaid rent, illegal activity, etc.) preventing evictions just to raise rents

 * Protects families too frightened to report unsafe conditions for fear of retaliatory evictions

 * Protects "mom and pop" landlords by completely exempting owner-occupied duplexes and in-law units

 * Protects homeowners by exempting single-family homes from rent stablization. Units built after February 1, 1995 are similarly exempt (doesn't discourage new construction)

 * Rolls rents back to March 2016 levels

 * Creates an independent Commission to administer and enforce the law, providing flexibility, accountability, and transparency at no significant expense to the city

Burlingame's high rents affect everyone. We're losing teachers. Restaurants can't find workers. Property values are directly related to the quality of our schools and availability of essential service personnel.

Together, we can sustain a vibrant and livable Burlingame.

Vote YES to protect Burlingame's future. Vote Yes on Measure R.

/s/ Thomas John Hornblower, Home Owner

/s/ Saundra Ardito, Enrolled Agent

/s/ Jonathan P. Roth, Professor

/s/ Roni Gillenson, Mental Health Professional

/s/ Cynthia Cornell, President, Burlingame Advocates for Renter Protections

Arguments AGAINST

Burlingame has always had a range of housing options, creating a vibrant and diverse community. While maintaining a varied housing stock is a real priority, Measure R is a deeply flawed, ambiguous ordinance with no legal or financial accountability to residents.

We urge you to vote NO on Measure R.

Measure R mandates a Rental Housing Commission; an unaccountable body with the power to assess fees, hire countless staff and lawyers, and sue at will - virtually a blank check. The power of taxation should not reside in an unelected body. Moreover, appeals would go directly into San Mateo County's overburdened courts.

Measure R is unexpectedly broad, applying not just to apartments, but to homeowners who rent out a single unit. They would face significant red-tape and fees to remove a tenant, even if only to move themselves or a family member into their own home.

The ordinance regulates hotel rooms, creating problems for an industry that significantly contributes to Burlingame's budget and economy.

Measure R does not screen by income, so wealthy people could occupy below-market units for decades as newcomers struggle to find affordable housing.

Finally, Measure R potentially exposes the city to expensive litigation paid for by Burlingame's general fund, reducing resources for services, and capital needs.

The unintended consequences of these extensive rules, costs, and bureaucracy could be to reduce housing stock as owners remove rental units. Without continued reinvestment in housing, quality diminishes, values decline, and the tax base for schools erodes.

Maintaining a variety of housing options and a fiscally sound city are important priorities for Burlingame; Measure R is a bad public policy that does not advance these goals. Burlingame would be poorly served by Measure R, with its unaccountable, expensive Rental Housing Commission and the ensuing legal environment.

Join neighbors, civic leaders, school officials, and local business owners; vote NO on Measure R. 

/s/ Ann Keighran, Mayor

/s/ Ricardo Ortiz, Vice Mayor

/s/ Michael Brownell, Council Member

/s/ Donna Colson, Council Member

/s/ Emily Beach, Council Member 

Replies to Arguments FOR

We join the ENTIRE Burlingame City Council in urgin a NO vote on Measure R.

Burlingame officials are meaningfully addressing local housing needs including:

* Encouraging homeowners to update existing detached in-law units to increase rental supply

* Approval 140 affordable senior and workforce apartments on city lots

* Updating our zoing to thoughtfully increase housing supply in locations such as Rollins Road and Downtown Burlingame

* Supporting San Mateo Union High School District in developing new teacher housing.

Measure R repeals over thirty years of voter approved real estate and home protections including the right for homeowners to establish sale and rental pricing.

Problems with Measure R include:

 * Regulating nearly all single family home, condominiums, apartment, and hotel rentals

 * Adding significant red-tape and fees for most rentals

 * Discouraging property owners who want to perform maintenance and safety upgrades

 * Declining property values that impact schools and neighborhood safety

 * Allowing subleasing while prohibiting owners from completing background checks on new tenants

 * Permitting wealthy people to occupy below-market units for decades as newcomers struggle to find affordable housing

Measure R is badly flawed public policy with no fiscal accountability and places our city's safety and financial stability at risk. Measure R creates a nonelected and unaccountable Rental Housing Commission with the power to tax and direct funds from the Burlingame general account and capital reserves. Additionally, the city would be forced to spend an unspecified amount to defend this poorly written, ambiguous ordinance.

This is a boondoggle for lawyers and does not create new affordable housing options.

Please join your neighbors and VOTE NO on Measure R.

/s/ Timothy W. Hooker, Burlingame renter

/s/ Raymond Marshall, Retired Fire Fighter

/s/ Rosalie O'Mahony, Former Burlingame mayor

/s/ Gregory Land, Board of Trustees, San Mateo Union High School District

/s/ Janet Martin, Local Business Owner 

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

Imagine a city where there are no nurses to care for the sick and elderly; no teachers for our children; no police or firefighters to help keep us safe.

If the out-of-contral rental crisis is left unchecked, this is the city we will have.

Homeowners understand that fixed rate mortgages and property taxes restricted to 2% annually provide predictable costs that translate into housing security.

With Measure R, over half of Burlingame's residents - renters- will also be afforded some housing security. Annual rent increases will be tied to the Consumer Price Index, roughly 2 to 3%, similar to the cap on homeowners' property taxes.

There is hostile opposition to Measure R. Some members of the Burlingame City Council believe renters should move frequently - that displacement is beneficial to the city. We would never consider telling long-term homeowners that they need to sell and move away to provide housing for new people. Why then would we tell renters that they are disposable - that they really aren't welcome to stay?

Measure R has also been misrepresented. It is not rent control and does not harm homeowners nor the city's revenue.

The Rental Housing Commission is appointed by the Burlingame City Council, complaint based, self-funded, and not dependent on the Burlingame General Fund.

With Measure R, essential workers can live in Burlingame and children can stay in their homes, schools, and churches. Our city can remain vibrant and livable.

YES on Measure R will allow our children and our children's children to be a part of Burlingame's future.

Vote YES on Measure R to Protect Burlingame.

/s/ Kristen Parks, Professor, San Mateo Community College District

/s/ Tara Valentine, Elementary School Teacher

/s/ Jerry Timothy Murphy, Retired Information Technology Specialist

/s/ Roni Gillenson, Psychotherapist

/s/ Cynthia Anne Cornell, President, Burlingame Advocates for Renter Protections

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