Making Millbrae Affordable for All

Affordable Housing in Millbrae and the Loss of Redevelopment Funds

In an earlier “” Patch post, I used the words Affordable and Sustainable to define a great city.   I submitted the proposition that Sustainability is a short-hand term for viewing the relationship between what actions we do today and their effects on the future.  I suggested sustainability is a broader definition that includes the effect of the economy and whether a community provides adequate services for all of its citizens.  Affordable housing options are one of those vital city services. A great city is measured by whether it fosters programs and policies provide housing options that are attainable for all income segments.

I also mentioned in that that I didn’t intend to proselytize, criticize, or persuade.  These posts are intended to solicit discussion and opinion.  That being said, I do have any opinion that I want to share at this time.  With the recent loss of redevelopment funds, I am concerned about the impact it will have on affordable housing opportunities in our community.  As a resident of the City of Millbrae, I wish to express my interest and concern for continued support of providing affordable housing opportunities for people of all income ranges.

Housing affordability in the City of Millbrae is a significant problem that affects virtually everyone. Jobs, families, transportation, education, and lifestyle are among just a few of the lenses through which people consider housing availability. It is a complex topic that, as you know, not only elicits strong emotions, but also fits into a larger picture of what it means to live, work and play in Millbrae. A lack of affordable housing limits the ability of people of all incomes to live in close proximity to where they work, consequently reducing the availability of qualified workers for local businesses. As a result, local workers may be forced to live outside of Millbrae spending their earned wages in another city. This lack of potential taxable sales income only hurts the economy of Millbrae.

As residents of the City of Millbrae, I hope you all share my enthusiasm to make Millbrae a great city.  I urge you to keep in mind that although there are few mechanisms left to create affordable housing with the elimination of RDA funds, there are still housing options and tools available for our city planners and government representatives to consider.

For our city to stay vital, we must maintain a mix of incomes within our communities. Housing should be available not only for the high tech/corporate workers of Silicon Valley, but also for the postal employee who delivers your mail every day.  As we move forward, please keep in mind the importance of housing for all. Great cities are measured by how it provides services for all its citizens.  Let’s support affordable housing programs and services that will make Millbrae a great city to live in.

Please share your thoughts.

Reginald Duhe’

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Frank Chu April 11, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Without affordable housing Millbrae can't be a great place to live? No thanks! We already have an area nearby for lower income residents.. It's called San Bruno. It's only 5 mins away.. So if someone lives 5 mins away in San Bruno they can't work in Millbrae? If you think less people living here is going to bring in less tax dollars you may be right. But at the same time when crime rates increase due to more low income projects. Who's going to foot the bill? If it has to be in Millbrae proper lower income folks can still live here. Maybe you haven't heard but it's a crazy concept called renting. Why must it be the creation of more low income housing projects?
Heidi Beck April 11, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Hey, I resent that attitude! I live in San Bruno, and folks in Millbrae have no right to look down on my community.
Kate Holland April 11, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Ms. Beck, "folks in Millbrae" are not all commenting, its just one folk.
Heidi Beck April 11, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Thanks, you make a good point, and all I really wanted was to call this one guy out for his attitude.
Kate Holland April 11, 2012 at 05:52 PM
As you should! Affordable housing by definition in these articles does not in any way shape or form substantiate Mr. Chu's comments. He is obviously confused on what the author is talking about.
Frank Chu April 12, 2012 at 05:54 AM
What's so confusing about affordable housing projects? They are what they are. I understand she wants home prices in Millbrae to be lower and to have a more balanced city and community but Millbrae is simply too small to change all that much. Big city planning isn't necessarily appropriate for small residential towns.. But hey....maybe if we merged with Burlingame then we can be considered the affordable housing district! hehe As for Heidi.. sorry you perceived my comment about San Bruno being more affordable and being 5 mins away as being offensive.. I simply stated facts.
william smithton April 12, 2012 at 05:07 PM
What people don't know is that many people that cannot afford to live in Millbrae are being kicked out of the building.
Kate Holland April 13, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Mr. Chu, these articles are talking about overall affordable housing, not "projects". Did you know that the beautiful high end buildings on El Camino have affordable housing units too? Does it bother you that a couple working for City Government at lower wages than the private sector, a single mom who has a nursing job, or a teacher all have an opportunity to purchase a beautiful modern condo for a reduced rate just because of their "lower" income? Why shouldn't these individuals be Millbrae residents as opposed to "renting" in San Bruno? Maybe you aren't confused, I was giving you the benefit of the doubt.
Frank Chu April 13, 2012 at 08:10 PM
A few units of subsidized affordable units in these luxury complexes are fine with me , I have no problems with that but what are they going to do to make a real change? Build 2 or 3 more luxury complexes and carve out another 5 units in each one for low income? That's just a drop in the bucket for changing anything. To make a true difference in the overall home price levels in Millbrae, they'll have to build whole complexes dedicated to low income aka projects and that's what I'm against. There are real world negative ramifications for any community to adopt larger amts of affordable housing. There's no need for that, when San Bruno is just next door. What's wrong with living in San Bruno and working in Millbrae? It's not a bad deal and San Bruno is quite nice! To me Millbrae as a community can be improved by other means like business district, park or other forms of development instead. As far as renting vs. buying.. Renters are just as much "residents" of a community as a home owner is. In today's housing market it might even be better to rent as opposed to taking on a big mortgage especially for lower income folks. It's just my opinion on this matter but I'm sure many other residents share it. Regarding Govt workers. You're mistaken if you think govt employees are paid less. Not only are they paid nicely they have the benefits of pensions and unions. It's public information. You'll be shocked at the amount of government workers that make six figures.
Kate Holland April 13, 2012 at 09:34 PM
I had to re-read both articles again to be sure...and I am pretty sure that neither article has any low income housing project mentioned to substantiate your comments about them. These articles support affordable housing throughout the community. there's nothing wrong living anywhere on the peninsula, I just merely thought it was really rash of you to make the statement: "We already have an area nearby for lower income residents.. It's called San Bruno. It's only 5 mins away..". Burlingame has affordable housing options and San Mateo...but you aren't speaking of affordable housing, I don't think. I'm gauging that your comments are more along the lines of project housing, like that of which is being built in SSF. For the record, not all government employees make 6 figures....the parks guy who prunes the trees up there on the hill does not make 6 figures and he pays into his pension, just like you probably do to with a 401 plan...a handful of overpaid city staff yes, everyone, no. Be fair.
Frank Chu April 13, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Well from what I got from the articles. One main issue was about the problem of overall affordability of housing prices in Millbrae and how to create more of a balance. There are several ways to solve this. 1. You can lure some big high tech company into town. Housing then doesn't seem unaffordable since many of them are high earners. 2. You can get funding via some govt programs to fund subsidized housing either in the form of low income housing complexes or "projects". 3. You can somehow convince Millbrae home owners to sell their homes for lower than market value. I think the author said Millbrae no longer can get development funding for low income housing so without such funding who's going to foot the bill? Without govt programs to subsidize big amounts of affordable housing, I think practically speaking the amount of lower income housing that can be available in the community will remain statistically insignificant. I say let the market decide what housing prices should or shouldn't be instead of manipulation which may not be effective in the end. The article also brought up wanting to generate more sales tax dollars by bringing in more lower income residents. Problem with this is 1. Lower income folks can’t spend as much as higher income folks, how much retail is here anyway..and 2. If there is somehow enough lower income residents to really make a significant difference in sales income it may potentially negatively impact the community in other ways.
Frank Chu April 13, 2012 at 10:42 PM
As far as government worker wages goes. Yes I know not everyone earns 6 figures. You mentioned gardeners but I’ll also bring up blue collar maintenance workers also. If you look at their salaries online you’ll see that a senior govt gardener can make over 60k, and so can maintenance workers. These workers would otherwise probably be making barely minimum wage in the private sector if that with no pensions or union protections so even lower level govt workers are better off than their private industry counterparts.
Frank Chu April 13, 2012 at 10:43 PM
Anyway like I said in my previous post there are other ways of developing the community and to generate increased revenue besides putting in a lot of affordable housing. Business district development being one. Being Asian I can right off the top of my head think of one way. That is to put in a large Asian supermarket plaza either behind the BART station or somewhere on the other side of the freeway. There is a big need for this since between DalyCity/SSF and San Mateo there is no big Asian supermarket to serve the very large Asian community in Millbrae. I always have to go far out of my way for simple Asian groceries and spend my money in those cities. By developing such a plaza you not only will serve the local Asian population well and keep tax dollars within Millbrae instead of to San Mateo and Daly City but you will also attract lots of out of town Asians to shop there as well. Keeping it in the industrial side of Millbrae keeps the quiet side quiet and is convenient for freeway access. This will not negatively impact the residents at the same time stimulating local spending and attracting outsider spending as well. I realize I’m highly biased for something like this since I’m Asian so maybe non Asian residents might not like this plan so much but it’s just one alternative for revenue.
Kate Holland April 13, 2012 at 11:43 PM
I'm not disagreeing with your points, I won't argue with you. My tone has been consistent...low income doesn't necessarily mean poverty or welfare. Low income can be defined as our city workers, teachers, post office clerks, retail clerks, etc..That's my only point in this discussion. So, I think your original comments were a bit insensitive. I will defend my fellow government workers...some of those blue collar workers choose this field for the security of it, and that's okay too! They don't get rich, but they are raising families on those wages. You may not think about it, but some of those maintenance workers left their families last night during the storm checking to make sure all systems were working and storm drains weren't backing up, or trees weren't falling on those lovely mercedes...imagine that! Don't discount them. I think you should be sitting on our City Council next to Wayne Lee and Gina Papan...we need some changes in our community and great revenue security. People as yourself who have great ideas should be working to implement good solutions!!
Frank Chu April 14, 2012 at 12:22 AM
I'm certainly not looking down on blue collar government workers. It's because of maintenance workers that we're able to have a good well functioning community. I was simply pointing out the fact that they might not be as economically disadvantaged as their private industry counterparts are. City maintenance workers do in fact make very good wages when you consider their education levels. As for siting on the council.. not really for me I'm just some dude with an opinion. As for my tone or insesitivity... the reason for that is because I commute daily 30 mins each way to work everyday, as do most folks I think.. I was quite bemused to hear that someone might consider a 5 min commute from San Bruno to Millbrae as being too much to ask and would rather propose more lower income housing with funds that are probably non existant, as a solution. Sorry if anyone was offended.
Jesse M. April 18, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Rent in Millbrae, as well as most of the Bay Area, is downright insane. I am a 26-year-old, full-time public school teacher. I went to college for six years. Between then and now, I have jumped through so many hoops, being continuously nickel and dimed and told that my out-of-state education degree isn't adequate to teach in CA. I make a laughable income compared to other people with a similar level of education. This month, my wife and I have been trying to figure out how we can continue to afford to live in our 1bdrm apt in Millbrae since our landlady is going to raise our rent by 150. We're even getting our bills payed by a woman, whose Millbrae home was forclosed on, so her children can continue to attend school here.
Reginald Duhe June 12, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Mr. Mathews, Thank You for your comment. You are exactly the type of person that this "make Millbrae Affordable" post is talking about it. You are a Full-time public school teacher. You have a college degree. By all accounts you have doing what you are suppose to be doing to live a comfortable life in a city that you choose to live. According to your post just trying to afford a 1bedroom apt in Millbrae is getting close to impossible. Responsible affordable housing policy oin Millbrae (or in any other city in San Mateo) should allow you to live in Millbrae. AFFORDABLE Housing does not mean "project housing" or Section 8 housing, it simply means affordable. There are policies that each city can enact that will allow public service employees, Teachers, Postal employees,..etc the ablility to live in cities close to thier employmenbt.
Angie June 30, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Jesse: What do you mean by your comment: "We're even getting our bills paid by a woman, whoes Millbrae home was forclosed on, so her children can continute to attend school here."? Do you mean that this family is using your address as an address of residence for Millbrae schools??? This is a big problem, as Millbrae schools, Mills in particular, are becoming overcrowded.


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