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The City of Burlingame objects to the CASA Compact

On May 6, 2019, the City Council of the City of Burlingame filed its objection to the manner in which the CASA Compact was prepared and issued without input from local municipalities. Their letter to State Senator Scott Wiener is as follows:

Dear Senator Wiener:

Burlingame residents and officials recognize the critical nature of housing availability issues in our city and the entire Bay Area. We understand that a healthy, diverse, and economically dynamic region critically depends on our collective ability to address our housing challenges. While we appreciate that MTC and ABAG are focused on housing issues, we also believe that the vast differences among areas of a state as large as California require appreciation for local characteristics in geographical features, the built environment, and local economies and histories.

For these reasons, we are adding our voices to the large number of local municipalities that object to the manner in which the CASA Compact was prepared and issued without input from local municipalities.

No representative from San Mateo County was included in the process. As the governmental bodies created by the state to regulate land use at the community level, it is imperative that local cities and counties have proper representation at any regional policy and planning forum dealing with this issue.

There are many areas of the Compact and related legislation that we will be engaged with over the coming months. For the purposes of this letter, we will focus on our fundamental opposition to a "one size fits all" approach to land use planning. Compact Element #5 and its companion legislation, SB 50, propose minimum building heights and densities near fixed rail stations and high volume bus lines in a way that prevents communities from adopting general plans and zoning standards that concentrate high density housing according to local conditions and goals.

The premise for such a proposal is that since local communities are not addressing critical housing needs, the powers of the local jurisdictions must be removed by the state. This premise is incorrect in many communities and certainly in Burlingame. Some recent developments in Burlingame that support our point include:

In closing, we would like to emphasize the following with regard to any future regional plans and state legislation related to local land use:

[1] Based on US Census 2017 population estimates of 30,686 for Burlingame, 884,363 for San Francisco, 1.035 million for San Jose, and 425,195 for Oakland.

[2] For reference, the RHNA for the current planning cycle is 863 for Burlingame, 28,869 for San Francisco, 35,080 for San Jose, and for 14,765 for Oakland.

The City of Burlingame recognizes that there is a housing shortage in California, and has demonstrated its commitment to doing its part. Furthermore, the City of Burlingame is in support of the "Calls for Action" outlined in the CASA Compact, including Redevelopment 2.0, addressing homelessness, and growing a stable construction labor force. However, it is crucial that the hard work of local municipalities be recognized, and that accommodations be provided for responsible governments that are planning and approving housing in a proactive, meaningful manner.


Donna Colson (Mayor), Ann Keighran, Michael Browning, Emily Beach (Vice Mayor), Ricardo Ortiz

cc: SB50 Coauthors:

State Senator Anna Caballero, State Senator Ben Hueso, State Senator John Moorlach, State Senator Nancy Skinner, State Senator Jeff Stone, State Assembly Member Autumn Burke, State Assembly Member Kansen Chu, State Assembly Member Tyler Diep, State Assembly Member Vince Fong, State Assembly Member Ash Kalra, State Assembly Member Kevin Kiley, State Assembly Member Evan Low, State Assembly Member Kevin McCarty, State Assembly Member Rob Riva,s State Assembly Member Phil Ting, State Assembly Member Buffy Wicks, Brad Paul, Metropolitan Planning Commission, State Assembly Member Kevin Mullin, State Senator Jerry Hill, San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley, CASA Legislative Task Force, City of Brisbane Councilmember Cliff Lentz, CASA Legislative Task Force, Seth Miller, League of California Cities, City of Burlingame City Council.