Hi. Planning commission study session meeting tonight, 7:30 PM at council
chambers on discussion of potential changes to zoning designation on
properties in certain areas of our city. Here is a brief background and some info
that will hopefully allay the fears of property owners who have already
built on the property which might be designated for down zoning.
History: prior to the 1960s most of North Central had single family homes.
Our city allowed “spot zoning in the 1960’s-1970″s” in which suddenly
apartments, triplexes, duplexes were allowed amongst single family homes. Our
city was wrong in doing this because no consideration was done on the impact
of higher density on our crowded and narrow streets. Like it or not, a lot
of people who live in our neighborhood have cars and some plenty of them
which they don’t park in their own property for whatever reasons. I can recall
the attitude of some of our city officials and people who didn’t live in our
neighborhood being one “of North Central has a lot of old homes and they
should be torn down anyway” in other words this was a “throw away” neighborhood
that would become slums. Hence a blind eye was often turned to things
happening in our neighborhood especially parts of it.
1. North Central has the highest population density of any neighborhoods
in our city and we don’t have the largest area of land in our city.
2. Because many of our inner core were original parts of our city, we have
many narrow streets.
3. We probably have the highest number of dwellings of our city in which
people have been jammed together in tight living spaces.
4. If SOMEONE ALREADY HAS A DUPLEX, TRIPLEX, OR 4 UNITS OR MORE PRESENTLY
ON THEIR PROPERTY THAT MIGHT BE DOWNZONED TO R-1 (single family home
designation). They will be merely considered legal non-conforming. If something
should happened to those units, they could be rebuilt to the permitted use
that was there before.
5. Some property owners bought in specific parts of North Central with an
eye on future development and they are absentee land owners. Some of these
folks don’t seem to care what happens on their property(properties) and they
bring down the value of the area.
6. ” My property will lose value if it is down zoned.” Not necessarily so
because people may not want to buy a property in a block in where parking is
difficult or appearances are not kept up. If anything the property has
7. There is a state law that allows a secondary unit (often called a
Granny or in-law unit) to be built in an R-1 zone. They have to meet San Mateo
City‘s guidelines and one of the units must be occupied by the owner of the
property. Therefore any single family home designation property could still
have a secondary unit built on it if it means city codes.
8. Just because a property is zoned for say multi-units, one cannot
necessarily build multi-units if the property isn’t large enough to accommodate
all the design guidelines of our city codes in order to built multi-units. In
other words, if a property is designated as R-3 zone, because of the size
of the property perhaps only a single family home can be built on it to meet
all the building code guidelines.
9. Some property owners have changed or added to their dwelling units
illegally and they haven’t been caught. This is why some units may appear to be
duplexes when in reality they were converted to two or more units
illegally. Many of our folks in certain parts of north central weren’t as informed
so these things did happen.
Hopefully having the above information will allay the fear of some owners
who feel their property will have less value. Many properties in North
Central were over priced and the down turn in our real estate market and economy
has really brought this home. The market is correcting itself and some
folks have suffered from the downturn in the real estate market especially if
they paid a higher price than what it is worth now. DON’T FORGET YOU CAN GO
to San Mateo County Appraiser’s office and apply for a reduction in your
property tax if you feel that you might be paying too much. This is free, you
don’t have to pay a company to do this for you.
If you have any questions about some of the proposed zoning designation
changes, feel free to call me or talk to Ken Chin (650-522-7211) the planner
assigned to Review Property for this Planning Commission update. Bertha