By Michael G. Stogner
If you are a resident of San Mateo County and couldn’t care less about politics, but have been wondering what the Hell has happened to the Quality of Life in your residential neighborhoods and the over building and crowding of Office Buildings and don’t forget the GRIDLOCK, we used to call it traffic. It hasn’t been traffic for the last 15 years.
I recommend you listen to Lisa Taner, she is one of the Good Gals/Guys. Make this phone call it matters.
It’s time to blow the lid off the trash can of political cronyism and its most recent unseemly offspring, Senate Bill 9 and Senate Bill 10.
Most times in a household, everyone knows when the garbage can is full, but they wait for someone else to take it out — even when it stinks to high heaven. Let’s do this job together. Let’s delve through that refuse and see exactly who put it there and why it reeks.
Last year, San Mateans may recall, it wasn’t but a minute after Measure Y (the renewal of our city’s new building height limit measure) received certification of its win that San Francisco’s prolific housing bill author, state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, attended a San Mateo-based “anti-Y decompression” meeting. The attendees and guest speakers, our own councilmembers Goethals, Lee and Bonilla, were told that no one should worry about the failed effort to kill off the citizen measure, insinuating that state efforts would pave the way to their desired outcome. “We are making progress,” Wiener assured them. “We honestly need more action at the state level.” Enter Senate bills 9 and 10.
Senate bills 9 and 10 are a developer’s nirvana. With no affordable housing required, or any funds from developers to go toward supporting infrastructure, coupled with the complete removal of any due process, and elimination of local zoning, residents will wake up to find buildings going up right next door to their homes with no rhyme or reason other than developer profit. By then, it will be too late (Did I mention that SB 10 also gives San Mateo’s City Council the power to override the will of the voters and dismiss Measure Y?). Go to unitedneighbors.net for the simple facts regarding these two bills, including a two-minute video of all that we have to lose. These bills have already passed in the Senate and the Assembly will be voting on them mid-August. The time to tell Assemblyman Mullin to vote no is now. Call him at (650) 349-2200.
So, how did we get here? Two words: political cronyism. In large part, gone are the days where your representatives actually represent you. Most are busy setting their sights on their next position, with their stepping stones on the backs of us, their constituency. Take a look around our region — it’s pretty clear who is doing work for the people and who isn’t. Even idealists landing in council seats or higher can quickly expect to feel the firm hand of the special interest folks on their shoulders, complete with promises of what they could be, if only. And if they do the bidding of their pals in high and low places, they’ll receive all the endorsements and funding they need to win their next campaign — if the voters just stay ignorant. And it doesn’t stop there. Commission seats in cities all around our region are targeted, too, as special interests line up their friendlies to fill those all-important decision-making seats, one by one. It’s simply their chess game, a Queen’s Gambit move, where you, the resident pawn, is sacrificed to gain control of the board.
As ever, politics is about money and power, but it has morphed into a Godzilla-like creature so hideously ugly, that we want to throw our hands up in the air and move to Mars. I have a better idea. Let’s send those who support bad bills like Senate bills 9 and 10 there instead. NASA recently announced it needs people for a simulated Mars habitat for a year. Some of the skills they’ll be taught could translate into being better representatives when they “return” to Earth. Sounds like a win to me.
Seriously, there is a way to retain our power as residents and taxpayers. Political climbers will need your vote. Pay attention to what they have done or failed to do — as with SB 9 and 10. Don’t be swayed by endorsements. Be vocal about your wants. Ask candidates hard questions — now and when they run for the next best thing. Make their answers and actions known. Your well-cast vote is still your superpower. There’s nothing scarier than an educated voter.
Lisa Taner is a San Mateo native who volunteers both locally and regionally with resident groups for the betterment of her community. Her main focus is to limit ‘politics over people,’ especially in the areas of development, gentrification and displacement.