I grew up on the east coast, in the Baltimore/DC area. Much of my family, including my parents, worked in government — my father was a researcher at the National Institutes of Health, and my mother was a clinical social worker on the children’s cancer ward at the NIH-affiliated hospital. My family believes in the value of a government that serves the public with efficiency and respect.
I graduated from the Johns Hopkins University in 1999, and moved out to California to attend UC Berkeley, but soon decided that research was not a career I was suited for, and instead left to work in Silicon Valley.
Eventually I returned to grad school for a Master’s in Business Administration, focusing on how to manage a business to maintain profitability, while serving goals of social and environmental sustainability. I earned my MBA from the Presidio Graduate School in 2009. I spent several years after that working at a small company in San Francisco, and in 2016 joined SolarCity, just before it became Tesla Energy. I am currently the senior member of the support team for our industrial storage products, helping to keep the grid stable as the world transitions to using more variable-output generation like wind and solar.
In 2011, I married my long-time partner Plymouth Ansbergs, and in 2017 we bought our home in the Belle Air neighborhood of San Bruno. Plymouth breaks cameras for a living — testing the hardware that produces Google StreetView imagery — and in their spare time, they enjoy art, mainly painting. They’re a frequent patron of Pinot’s Palette in downtown, and if you walk through our neighborhood, our house is identifiable by the mural painted on the garage, and the second in progress on the front facade.
One of our main reasons for choosing this neighborhood was our appreciation for the diverse community. A second was that we value the short walk to services on San Mateo Avenue, and we saw the potential of Downtown San Bruno to grow into a thriving public space.
When I first moved out to the Bay Area, I went from living in a large studio apartment for $300, to paying $550 for one room in a shared basement flat. I’ve never forgotten that “sticker shock”, and I’ve been interested in the economics of housing affordability ever since. I wouldn't be surprised if that basement room now goes for more than a grand. I believe one of the most important things a town can do to make housing more affordable is simply give homeowners more flexibility to build incrementally on their own land. This was the norm for most of history, and should be again. Currently we are working towards adding an in-law unit in our back yard, with an eye toward having my parents join us here.
In our spare time, Plymouth and I enjoy hiking and cycling (even during the pandemic). While we are childless by choice, I have six assorted nieces and nephews, one of whom is a ward of my parents, and may attend school here soon. We try to share our appreciation for the outdoors with the next generation.
We have volunteered for many years with an organization that helps manage feral cat populations around San Mateo County.
After we moved to San Bruno, we started attending various public meetings, especially around questions of what is getting built (or not getting built) in our transit corridor. The most important thing we can do to both make life more affordable for the middle class, and avert climate change, is build housing near jobs and transit. Being a land use nerd, when we were looking at moving to San Bruno, I took an interest in the Transit Corridors Plan. In 2014, more than two thirds of San Bruno citizens voted for focused development in our downtown area, near BART, Caltrain, and El Camino.
While this is an exemplary planning document, unfortunately we simply are not delivering on its promise. That’s why in fall of 2019, when I heard about an opening on the Planning Commission, I applied. I honestly did not expect to be appointed, having lived in the area a relatively short time, but the Council chose me as the most-qualified applicant.
In January 2021 I was promoted to Vice-Chair of the Commission, and since January of 2022 I have served as Chair. I’m honored to have the trust of my fellow Commissioners, and I do my best to conduct our meetings with respect for all participants. I am also currently one of two members of the Planning Commission participating in the joint committee monitoring construction of the new Recreation and Aquatic Center.
The Planning Commission is facing an especially challenging agenda this year, as each town in the Bay Area region is in the process of delivering a “Housing Element”, which tells the state how we plan to improve our housing stock over the next eight years.
While I am proud of my service on the Planning Commission, I am concerned about the slow pace of action on issues of housing and infrastructure, and that is the main reason I’ve chosen to run for Council.