Housing Policy is Climate Policy
The Bay Area has more super-commuters — people driving more than two hours each way to reach their jobs — than almost any other place in the world. San Mateo County has added more than ten jobs for each new housing unit over the last decade. As we move towards adding thousands of new jobs, with new office space in Bayhill, and a proposed biotech campus at Tanforan, where will those new highly-paid workers live? We can hope that at least some of the workers at Tanforan will take BART — if they can find homes near BART anywhere else along the line — but the most likely case is that many of them will bid up the cost of housing here, in order to live near work. This will push lower-paid workers into long commutes, making their lives worse, as well as adding to pollution — with CO2 affecting climate, as well as smog and particulates that cause asthma and health issues. Many of our existing policies suggest that we think homes for cars are more important than homes for people.
At an even bigger-picture level, we all know people who have abandoned the Bay Area entirely, driven out by housing cost. Many of us have seen friends and family move away to places like Sacramento, or Houston, or Minneapolis. One side effect of this kind of move is that the climate in those places is much worse — which means on average, a household in any of those places will spend far more energy on heating and cooling. Simply making it possible for those families to stay here has a dramatic impact on their carbon footprint.
San Bruno already voted for smarter development. We need a Council that embraces the goal of building our downtown into an area that encourages getting around on foot, or bike, or the buses and trains. And we need Councilmembers who keep an eye on the bigger picture, rather than treating any one project as though it can be evaluated independent of that larger context.