Supe Candidate: Build More Granny Houses in Wealthy Neighborhoods

Supervisor candidate Andy Cohen says the extra property taxes generated would benefit the county's poor.


Virtually to a person, candidates for the open San Mateo County Board of Supervisor District 4 position believe the answer to traffic congestion on the Peninsula is by creating more housing near our transportation corridors.

“We have to make it easy for people by creating this housing, and make people want to do it,” said , a Redwood City Planning Commissioner, at a Saturday morning breakfast in Millbrae hosted by the North Peninsula Democratic Club.

“Let’s have smart growth, and create a smart, reliable system,” said , a member of the San Mateo County Board of Education.

But one candidate stepped away from the pack with his own ideas.

, a Menlo Park City Council member, wants local homeowners to build secondary houses on their private property.

“You don’t close down sprawl without driving rent prices and sale prices up,” says Cohen. “I want a true amnesty (from government regulations) for illegal secondary dwellings. How many people are living in poverty? How many people are destitute, and living in unhealthy environments? We can have secondary dwellings in the wealthier neighborhoods, and those fees (taxes paid by homeowners) can improve the lives of the poorer people in our county.”

“It would put people to work,” continues Cohen, “and get our children and our grandparents into dwellings close to relatives where they could be watched over, cared for, and therefore, helped. Everyone benefits.”

Why isn’t it happening now? “Planning departments don’t encourage it, and people don’t want it in their backyards,” says Cohen. “The populace has changed; four million people lived alone 50 years ago, now 40 million people live alone. We can do this.”

Also participating in Saturday’s breakfast: Supervisor candidates , a member of the Redwood City School Board, East Palo Alto Councilmember Carlos Romero, and Menlo Park Mayor .

Candidate did not attend, and David Woods the Supervisor race.

District 4 includes Menlo Park, Redwood City, East Palo Alto and unincorporated North Fair Oaks and Oak Knoll.

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Buck Shaw May 01, 2012 at 03:42 PM
“We have to make it easy for people by creating this housing, and make people want to do it,” "make people want to do it,” "MAKE" What if they don't "want" to "Creat" housing. "Force Them" You People are crazy. Your up agianst your own "One Bay Area Plan" by your proposile to change encredibley expensive and ardiously long building process. Let alone build permit fees, Design Review fees, Title 24 fees, LEED fees, Legal County defense fee, Plan review fee, inspection fee it goes on and on. Change the whole process to impiment your "Make" people do it Idea. You have already made it so hard to build anywhere else but on your transportation corridor. People will migrate to your "Grand Blvd." because its cheaper. Now what are you going to do. Change it all. I know, how about getting rid of the mortagage deduction. Then people will not want to live in homes just your Stack and Pack on "Grand Blvd." because its cheaper.
Julie Abraham May 01, 2012 at 04:29 PM
This reminds me of the book 'Who Moved my Cheese?' - looking at problems in a new way can rock the boat and make people shout, but I think Andy is on to something. I've been starting at my garage wondering whether I could make it into a home for me in my old age, so I could rent out my two-bed cottage and have some kind of income to pay my bills when I get too old to work. I'm also thinking it could be an option to help my kids if they run into employment troubles. Maybe I get the house, and they get the garage? I don't think Andy is about forcing people to do anything, but finding ways to support people who are already being forced to think about this because of declining incomes and standards of living. It's a compelling idea to use the resources we have in a more efficient and constructive manner.
Ernie May 01, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Buck, The reporter’s translation of my answer to the question was incorrect, as was the question. The question was, what are some ways to get drivers off of the already congested roads. The message that was meant to be expressed was that Building housing in and around the transit corridor will be one way to get people off the roads, by making it easier for the resident to decide to take mass transit rather than their vehicle. As I have talked to many residents and have asked them this same question, the one answer that seems to be on the top of the list, is that there is no incentive for them to get out of their vehicle and take the bus or train to work. As one resident put it to me, "You have to create something that's convinient for me to "want me" to use my car less. Cheers and I hope you are well.


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