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September 22, 2015



I will also add my main frustration with this whole topic during a city council election season which is it is a giant hand-waving distraction from more important things. What things? High-speed rail is still alive and coming to destroy the Peninsula. Even electrification of Caltrain will need to be very tightly managed to avoid screwing up neighborhoods and traffic flow. Traffic. Overpasses and off-ramps. Parking. Water to feed even medium density never mind high density. City finances. Historic preservation to we actually might recognize Burlingame in 20-30 years. School capacity and quality. Crime.

Rent control is about #30 on the list when people can only focus on 3-5 things.


Renovation. That seems like a pretty good cause to empty out some apartments. How do you renovate if they are occupied?


Krugman on rent control...

One key excerpt:
"The analysis of rent control is among the best-understood issues in all of economics, and -- among economists, anyway -- one of the least controversial. In 1992 a poll of the American Economic Association found 93 percent of its members agreeing that ''a ceiling on rents reduces the quality and quantity of housing.'' Almost every freshman-level textbook contains a case study on rent control, using its known adverse side effects to illustrate the principles of supply and demand. Sky-high rents on uncontrolled apartments, because desperate renters have nowhere to go -- and the absence of new apartment construction, despite those high rents, because landlords fear that controls will be extended? Predictable. Bitter relations between tenants and landlords, with an arms race between ever-more ingenious strategies to force tenants out -- what yesterday's article oddly described as ''free-market horror stories'' -- and constantly proliferating regulations designed to block those strategies?"

Council Priorities?

Joe, after each candidate offered a 1 minute intro, we continued onto these 4 questions that I wrote. Then, we took a few questions from the audience (could have gone for another hour), and then a 1 minute conclusion from each candidate.

#1) What are the top 3 priorities for The City of Burlingame and why?

#2) What is the proper balance between Regional Government Coordination / Control (HSR, GBI, ABAG) vs. Local Citizen and Council Voice, Sovereignty and Preservation and why?

3#) How will you uniquely add to the existing City Council:
a) perspective,
b) skill set , and
c) important relationships?

#4) What are the top 3 risks from the existing city budget? And, what specifically needs to be done with the existing City revenues, expenses and debt to ensure long-term fiscal health and stability, despite those budget risks?

Joe/Russ, I wonder what your thoughts are on these and what the readers'/bloggers' thoughts are?


If even Krugman thinks rent control is a bad idea then it must be a really, really bad idea. Just sayin'

Bruce Dickinson

Alright, guys, this thread is quite disjointed and Joe you really need to make one post where everyone can chime in on candidates responses to various events/debates.

First of all, as Resident said, Krugman is simply playing Captain Obvious (again), i.e. what he is saying is neither unique nor insightful. Everyone knows that rent control doesn't work, as Bruce Dickinson can keep repeating until he is blue in the face. This is high school or community college economics 101. If one still doesn't believe it then show me an example where rent control and cheap real estate exists. I'm all ears, but the only sound I will hear is crickets chirping!

Secondly, the Council Priorities person above, did some debate and questioning occur with the candidates already oris this a set of prospective questions? If the debate occurred already, then why ask the questions again? I'm a little confused and if the debate occurred, then why not post the answers to these questions in the special election section that Joe is about to make (wink, wink). Unfortunately, I won't be able to grace city hall with my presence tomorrow night as I'm currently in Beverly Hills for a gala event and will be returning this weekend.

As to the questions themselves that the poster above poses, #4 is too leading a question, #3 could include something about conflicts of interest, #1 should also include what they believe to be lower priorities, #2 is good, but a little leading again, and the big one that is missing is what are you hearing from residents on concerns that you feel the current city council is not addressing? My other question is what do you think the current council is doing right and what they are doing poorly? Finally, I would ask if they are willing to use the full power and talents of City staff to aggressively advocate and oppose, as many other cities have including Atherton, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, or Marin, regional or state coercive activities (e.g. HSR)?

Finally, while all this questioning is fine and dandy, the bottom line is, with this election, it's a coin toss. You have 2 seats and 4 people, so knowing nothing its a 50% chance that any candidate can get a seat. They can all answer the questions with ho-hum answers and it becomes a case of electing the smartest idiot, ya know what I mean? Unfortunately, the field is pretty narrow and while it looks like we have some smart cookies who have been already vetted by Joe and Russ (and coming from them, it means a lot to this Dickinson), let's not forget that local politics isn't exactly a magnet for talent, on average. There are some very talented local officials, mind you and we have some in Burlingame, but let's not forget that the same local politics and talent pool is what brought Sara Palin up through the ranks and Republican or Democrat, she was either a complete idiot or just a deer in the headlights that caved under such pressure that she ended up looking like an idiot.

George Dubya, on the other hand, you could tell, was significantly brighter and the whole "I'm just a Texas country bumpkin" was a way to disarm people and cause them to underestimate him. I have known many successful leaders who have adopted this approach and trust me, they are seasoned combatants. In fact, pull any gubernatorial or local speeches that Dubya made in the past, and he was more articulate compared to the Presidential stage, most likely because he realized that his style, to appeal to a broad audience, had to be using a "keep it simple, stupid" approach. Also, in the memoirs and accounts of all those who worked with him said he was an extremely critical thinker and a tough boss that asked pointed, relevant, and complex questions of his staff. Alas I digress, but wanted to clarify my Palin point in that not all talent is created equal, regardless of party and she is the classic example of a big fish in a small, shallow pool that got pulled into the national stage by virtue of being the only game in town in Alaska (and a desperate McCain who knew he was losing and took a big dice roll to shake things up, but failed).

This election in Burlingame may be an art of rejection rather than selection, ya know what I mean?

Thomas Hornblower

The article in the Daily Journal fails to mention the additional fact that landlord Scott Safadi "is scheduled for a conference in court for bank fraud, on September 28 at 1:30pm, Courtroom 4, 5th Floor, 280 South First Street, San Jose. Case number 5:12-cr-00465-EJD-2 - USA v. Scott." https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/09/22/18777985.php

Thomas Hornblower

"Rent control is about #30 on the list when people can only focus on 3-5 things."

That's easy for you to say Joe, but if you're the one being gentrified, rent control moves swiftly towards the top of the list. Gentrification in Burlingame has been going on for tens of years, but it is just recently that it has been getting it's well overdue notice by local city councils. I worked at NorthPark Apts. for over 7 years and saw the rent increase game from the inside and a cold hearted game it is.

Kristen Parks

It seems to me that the same people who oppose rent control also oppose high-density housing. There are better ways to address the housing crisis than rent control, and one of these ways is to invest in constructing new high-density housing. But that's a longer-term solution and we also need shorter-term solutions for struggling residents. However, rent control remains problematic because "there’s no guarantee rent-controlled units will be occupied by low-income tenants." otto line: if we care about renters in our community, we MUST talk about housing affordability and offer more attractive alternatives to rent control.

Thomas Hornblower

I'm for rent control and against high density housing, but would be very much for the building of some high density housing for the "service class/low/fixed income only" that is getting gentrified. It would be nice if the tech companies, who are one of the major causes of gentrification around here would build some units for the people they are displacing, but I don't see that happening. When I worked at Franklin Templeton back in the late 90's, instead of raising salaries for their low paying service jobs, $1600 to $2000/mo, so as to keep up with the rising cost of living in the Bay Area, they laid these people off, moved the jobs outside Sacramento and Florida where the cost of living is lower and said if you want your jobs, you can reapply there. At the same time, the big boys and girls in the company were cashing in $25mil blocks of stocks/options on a quarterly basis and helping finance the building of AT&T Park and buying the Carolan mansion for the CEO's wife to play with/restore. There is so much excess at the top. It's a dirty game and I don't see it being cleaned up.

Just an observer

Rent control doesn't work, period. End of sentence. See above.

High density housing won't work in the Bay Area because of lack of water and infrastructure. Period. End of sentence.

Not everyone gets to live in Burlingame, San Mateo County, the Bay Area or California. Period. End of sentence.



I may not be worried about the cost of living (a much more accurate term than gentrification, especially if the "rack 'em and stack 'em high density crowd gets to ruin the Peninsula's charm and livability) for myself, but I do worry about my kids being able to live here.

It's pretty narrow minded of you to just assume I don't have similar concerns just because I don't agree with your proposed solutions!

I also don't expect or want the government to advantage my kids over someone else's kids or parents or whomever, just because they grew up here. Be careful what you ask for in government control.

local motion

Don't let these people get under your skin. They are typical of people who want something for nothing because their mothers never taught them that there is no free lunch in this world. We all worry about our kids in a lot of ways and this is just one more. I find the ones who want the most for nothing don't have kids. Maybe that is good.


Rent Control does work.
What happens is that tenants and the people who are supposed to maintain a relationship do not stay in contact.
The County of San Mateo never will be able to manage the waste/theft; that-believe it or not the figure of people stealing from the State of CA goes unchecked due to the fact "It will cost more money to pursue these "racketeer's" than the waste of public resources.
Spending time in prison-a US prison, is the only way to et these people to stop.

Who's Zooming Who?

I don't understand people who assume that "the government" is good, honest, hard-working, effective, trustworthy, or wise.

In general, they are not, because power corrupts, and...

Since my ancestors risked their livelihoods and lives to fight the tyranny of The King of England here in the United States, we long ago established that the gov't should be of the people, by the people and for the people.

And, while speaking out against the corruption of the government, and their fan club - The Labor Unions, used to get you killed, now it just gets you beat up and threatened at gunpoint with specific references to the politicians and their unions that are pissed at you.

We don't want the gov't to be our nanny, our parents, our teacher, or our king and queen.

If that notion of a patriarchal gov't makes you feel more comfortable, there's always moving back to the old country for you.

The individual right to own property is part of what sets our country apart from the feudal or aristocracy of the old country(ies).

We don't need "The Count(y) of San Mateo" and their $900M in unfunded pension liability management technique, or their Marxist wet dream visions / delusions of grandeur.

The Supervisors, The Labor Unions, Their Constructions Contracts, along with their low-life, hush-hush enforcers are the racketeers, the bullies, and the bad guys.

Let's stop that in our neighborhoods.


Here is another Daily Journal article that feels a bit like a dog with a bone on "affordable housing".


It starts:

It’s been three years since redevelopment agencies were dissolved and California cities lost a long-standing means to fund affordable housing projects. And although new laws have been enacted with similar goals, they may not provide benefits to local jurisdictions marked by wealthy populations.

San Mateo County is a region that’s undoubtedly benefited from the rebounding economy with property prices skyrocketing and many residents earning wages that far exceed the national average.

Well, yeah. That is why killing RDAs was a good thing, not the bad thing this piece seems to imply. Go here to check out the amount of bureaucracy involved with just dissolving the old centralized bureaucracy!


"As part of the 2011 Budget Act, and in order to protect funding for core public services at the local level, the Legislature approved the dissolution of the state’s 400 plus RDAs."


I am concerned about my kids being able to live in Burlingame as well. But what are we supposed to do? Should we ask the labor and delivery doc to issue a "Born in Burlingame" certificate? Should they get a two diplomas at graduation from BHS? One for graduating and one for their rent controlled apartment? I just don't get where the rent controllers are coming from.


It must be a really really slow news day


Peter Garrison

Suspect agi-prop.

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