Burlingame wants lower-income housing

It may not quite be Mission Impossible, but Burlingame planners are embarking on the admittedly tall task of sprinkling inexpensive housing options throughout the affluent suburb this year.

Of six goals the City Council set for itself on Saturday, adding more below-market rate housing in the city was one of the top priorities, especially for the thousands of people who work in the city but do not live there. In Burlingame, there are 29,170 workers but just 12,570 households, according to the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County. The poor workers-to-households ratio is better than only South San Francisco and Menlo Park among Peninsula cities with at least 5,000 residents, according to the group.

Launching affordable housing projects, Councilmember Terry Nagel said, would help professionals such as teachers, firefighters and police who live within the communities they serve. It would also assist young adults looking for their first home as well as seniors who want to downsize, she said.

“The average person who owns a home in Burlingame would not be able to buy their own home today,” Nagel said.

City planners now have a goal to elicit the aid of local housing experts and to push for inexpensive housing projects.

Two likely locations for such housing, officials said, are the downtown area by Howard Avenue and the north end of the city by Millbrae’s BART/Caltrain station.

Vice Mayor Ann Keighran, a former planning commissioner, said the city has not pushed for more affordable housing in recent memory.

“Now that it’s been made a goal for the council you will hear more conversations about it,” she said.

Even with the council’s optimism, it expects opposition from residents who already own homes and from developers who do not want to invest in cheap housing.

Furthermore, the mission to add inexpensive housing is not one the city can accomplish with its own funds. Unlike nearby cities such as San Mateo, Millbrae and San Carlos, Burlingame has no redevelopment grant money at its disposal, said Councilmember and former planning commissioner Jerry Deal.

The city could get creative and allow developers to construct mixed-use buildings with parking, shops and housing as incentives to launch projects, Deal said. The projects could also include tandem and underground parking to maximize space, he said.

mrosenberg@examiner.com  

 

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