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Tuesday November 3, 2020 — California General Election
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City of San Mateo
Measure Y - Majority Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results


23,038 votes yes (50.05%)

22,995 votes no (49.95%)

51,247 ballots counted

Shall the proposed ordinance to amend the City of San Mateo General Plan to maintain for ten years voter-enacted policies limiting building heights, residential densities, and nonresidential building intensities, and to modify and maintain for 10 years an inclusionary housing requirement for residential projects, be adopted?

What is this proposal?

Details — Official information

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Shawn M. Mason, City Attorney

In 1991, San Mateo voters enacted Measure H, a citizens' invitative that amended the city's general plan for future development. Measure H amended the general plan to lower limits on building heights, residential densities as measured by the number of housing units per acre, and nonresidential building intensity as measured by the ratio of building floor area to the size of the parcel. Measure H also established an inclusionary housing program requiring residential developments to provide at least 10% of the project's units at rents or prices affordable to low- or moderate-income households. 

As a voter-adopted initiative, the policies established by Measure H could not be amended by the City Council without subsequent voter approval while the measure was in effect. Measure H contained a expiration provision. By its terms, Measure H would no longer be in effect after December 31, 2005.

In 2004, the City Council proposed a measure, Measure P, to authorize limited modifications to the policies established by Measure H and to extend the expiration provision until December 31, 2020.  The voters approved Measure P.

In 2017, the California Legislature enacted a law that authorizes cities to adopt inclusionary housing ordinances; however, this law requires such ordinances to provide developers of rental housing projects with alternative means of satisfying the inclusionary housing requirement.

If approved by the voters, this measure would extend the expiration date of the general plan policies concerning building heights, densities, and intensities established in Measure P to December 31, 2030. In addition, this measure would amend the provisions of Measure P concerning the inclusionary housing program to allow off-site construction of units or other alternative means of compliance with the inclusionary housing requirement. This measure would not permit the payment of in lieu fees as an alternative means of compliance with the inclusionary housing requirement. If approved by the voters, the inclusionary housing program as modified by this measure and the policies concerning building heights, densities, and intensities established in Measure P could not be amended by action of the City Council without voter approval until 2031.

If passed, this measure would go into effect 10 days after the City Council declares the results of the election and shall remain in effect through December 31, 2030. 

This measure was placed on the ballot by a petition signed by the number of voters required by law to qualify for the ballot.

A YES vote approves the measure.

A NO vote rejects the measure. 

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against

Arguments FOR

Vote YES on Y. Tried, true, and trusted, this measure was approved twice before by a vast majority of San Mateo voters. Currently known as Measure P, it will EXPIRE - UNLESS extended by voting YES on Y. Measure Y keeps height and density policies, compatible with our city's character, in the hands of the community. Development interests don't want that to happen.

YES ON Y balances future growth with community livability:

 - protects residential neighborhoods. Protects all of San Mateo.

 - concentrates higher heights & densities near transit (5-7 stories)

 - keeps current General Plan development standards intact. When the General Plan is updated, changes can be approved by the voters.

 - requires a minimum 10% affordable housing

 - ensures urgently needed affordable housing is actually built

 - enables continued development and economic growth

Without Measure Y:

 - height limit protections disappear

 - special interests press for excessive development

 - public benefits for larger developments evaporate

 - a fair and equitable General Plan update is undermined

 - buildings grow taller

 - traffic grows worse

Who do you trust? Measure Y is the only authentic grassroots citizen measure on the ballot. We are your friends and neighbors, unpaid volunteers who care about the community we live in. People you know. People you trust.

Who opposes Measure Y? Real estate developers and special interests who benefit from more development have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into an effort to defeat Measure Y. With this much money at stake, you know that the best interests of San Mateo residents are not being protected.

Measure Y principles have stood the test of time. For three decades, residents have relied on these principles to guide balanced development while protecting the community character that makes San Mateo special. Stand with those you trust. Learn more: 

The Residents' Voice, the Residents' Choice.



/s/ Michael Weinhauer, Board Member, Central Neighborhood Association

/s/ Richard Neve, Fiesta Gardens Homeowners Association

/s/ Maxine Terner, Former Planning Commissioner

/s/ Lisa Taner, Past President, Beresford/Hillsdale Neighborhood Assoc.

/s/ Dr. Al Landucci, Longtime San Mateo resident and community supporter

Arguments AGAINST

Measure Y limits San Mateo's ability to provide new housing options and impairs economic recovery for the city and its small businesses, burdening us with an outdated building policy for another decade when we need to address traffic and climate change.

We urge a NO vote on Measure Y.

Measure Y offers no solutions to create needed affordable housing. Vote NO.

Measure Y provides no help funding essential city services and economic recovery. Vote No.

Measure Y restricts our ability to address traffic solutions and climate change. Vote No.

Beyond all social and economic reasons to turn down this flawed and backward-looking Measure Y, there's an even more compelling reason to vote NO: our City Council placed an alternative on the ballot preserving the iron-clad protections against height in single family neighborhoods while giving the City the ability to meaningfully address the housing crisis in three tightly-targeted commercial/industrial areas near the 3 San Mateo train stations.

No on Measure Y allows San mateo to create affordable housing for our heroes - nurses, frontline workers, teachers, lab techs, and many others who make our city livable and who are unable to purchase homes here.

No on Measure Y allows San Mateo a way to recover economically and generate new revenue for city services, without taxing local residents.

No on Measure Y allows San Mateo to address traffic and reduce climate impacts.

We ask that you consider the facts and join us.

Vote NO on Y - it's a dead end.


/s/ Joseph Goethals, Mayor, San Mateo

/s/ Dr. Suzanne Flecker, Retired Pyschologist, Educator, Writer

/s/ David Lewis, Executive Director, Save the Bay

/s/ Rosanne Foust, President/CEO, SAMCEDA

/s/ Adam Nugent, President, Home Association of north Central San Mateo 

Replies to Arguments FOR

Measure Y is not what it seems. Vote No on Measure Y.

Measure Y extends bad policy that has been responsible for our community's failure to provide homes for our nurses, teachers, and essential workers.

No on Y is the only way to:

  - remove obstacles to building urgently needed affordable housing

  - concentrate higher heights & densities near transit where they result in less impacts to the community

  - create a more vibrant downtown that is a better amenity for our neighborhoods

  - ensure economic recovery from COVOID-19

  - allow professional planners to ensure that the City's General Plan is professionally developed, thoroughly vetted, and properly administered

Measure Y will:

  - make traffic worse

  - increase displacement of our neighbors

  - disrupt the public engagement and planning process

  - encourage sprawling development

  - contribute to climate change

Who do you trust? Measure Y was placed on the ballot by a handful of citizens without any public review and with glaring errors that make it incompatible with State law.

Who opposes Measure Y?

Opposition to Measure Y has united a coalition of environmentalists, affordable housing leaders, neighborhood associations, affordable housing leaders, realtors, small business advocates, labor and civic leaders alike.

You can find a full list at

It's time for San Mateo to move away from the policies that are contributing to displacement and become a more equitable place that builds housing that regular people can afford. Join us in defeating Measure Y to make San Mateo more affordable, equitable, and inclusive.

Vote NO on Measure Y.


/s/ Maureen Sedonaen, CEO - Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco Bay Area

/s/ Amanda Brown-Stevens, Executive Director, Greenbelt Alliance

/s/ James Ruigomez, Business Manager - San Mateo County Building Trades Council

/s/ Esther Conrad, Policy Chair - One San Mateo

/s/ Stephanie Reyes, Affordable Housing Advocate 

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

The Argument Against Measure Y is WRONG. Know the facts. Measure Y does not limit San Mateo's ability to provide new housing options, nor does it impair economic growth or stunt city services. Measure Y does give residents a voice when development deals are made by powerful special interests.

Measure Y policies have helped San Mateo thrive. For three decades these policies have helped fund essential city services and promote economic prosperity, especially for small businesses. New development is everywhere. Thousands of housing units, including both market rate and affordable, and many offices have been built within the smarter growth standards of Measure Y.


Measure Y facts:

 Yes on Y - promotes economic propserity which helps fund essential city services

 Yes on Y - balance growth to better manage traffic and climate change

 Yes on Y - proven affordable housing producer - doubled the number of affordable units built since 1991.

 Yes on Y - guarantees affordable units for our heroes to get built at same time as market rate housing (unlike developer Measure R)

 Yes on Y - tried, true, and trusted. Approved twice before an overwhelming majority of San Mateo voters.

 Our opponents are spending BIG MONEY to dominate this election. They'll flood your mailbox with slick mailers written by political operatives selling you a bill of goods. Get the facts. Unlike developer Measure R, Measure Y is a true grassroots effort, placed on the ballot by 7000+ resident supporters. Join your neighbors. Support Measure Y.

VOTE YES ON Y - Residents' Voice, Residents' Choice


/s/ Karen Herrel, Former Planning Commissioner

/s/ Barbara Niss, CPA, Founder, Concerned Citizens of San Mateo

/s/ Brian Haverty, Former Pres., San Mateo Little League American

/s/ Mike Germano, Past President, Beresford/Hillsdale Neighborhood Association

/s/ Rick Karp, Founder, San Mateans for Responsive Government 

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