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May 14, 2020


Bruce Dickinson

Joe, maybe it's age or maybe accumulated wisdom that we've accrued over a lifetime of success, but its so funny you write this post as Bruce Dickinson was thinking about some of the exact same themes!

First off, to get this out of the way, let's not let the real estate folks talk up their books too much! It wasn't that long ago during the 2008 recession, that Burlingame real estate prices lagged the recession and really bottomed out more in 2010. Ask me how I know? Because that's when Burlingame became a little more famous when yours truly moved to the area and bought my Burlingame Park residence! The effects of unemployment and lower small business spending will ripple throughout the economy and while tech, medical, law, media, and finance professionals can continue working without interruption during COVID and may be bidding up real estate now, those effects won't likely last. So to those looking to buy their first property, be patient!

Now it's really too bad that something like COVID results in "I told you so" moments, and this is not to belittle the severity of this disease, especially to the elderly such as myself and Joe (wink ;). But the secular trends that were already occurring pre-COVID are only going to be accelerated. Unfortunately those trends were completely missed by most politicians, who can only see as far as the next election cycle and stick to strict formulaic, party-friendly talking points that keep them in good standing with their enablers in Sacramento. So lets tackle these issues one at a time:

Public Transportation: "Everyone will be taking public transportation due to its environmental friendliness and it will reduce traffic and improve our lives". Wrong! The future is about autonomous self-driven electric vehicles that will take individuals and small groups of people to point to point destinations in a managed, traffic-less networked system where you can read, eat, sleep in your vehicle to your heart's content. By the time HSR will get built, it will already be obsolete!

High Density Housing: "We must build high density housing so that people can live close to their work". Wrong! The trend of working virtually enabled by technology means that businesses don't need to invest in all this expensive real estate infrastructure to house employees. Now you're seeing one company after another begin to re-evaluate their real estate portfolios now the they know that things can function pretty well while working from home through technology.

Zoning for the "Public Good": "We must build mixed-use development, create public spaces to share and enjoy, but at the expense of single-family residential housing, which is so 20th century and uses up too much land". Wrong! What better sanctuary is there than a Burlingame backyard, which strikes the perfect balance by being close to neighbors, convenient to restaurant/stores/airport but also containing beautiful trees and allowing residents to enjoy the fresh air from the mountains and the bay. It was already pretty much perfect to begin with. Politicians were selling a solution in search of a problem!

You see the whole high-density, zoning for the public good, developing better public transportation all failed to take into account the underlying trends that technology would not only transform the workplace, but also where we work and how we travel to different places. The astute observers will notice that we've been talking about all this for YEARS! What COVID did was rapidly accelerate all these trends, forcing us into a new reality with unprecedented speed. Now people will start to appreciate the benefits of other non-politician-prescipted lifestyles, where having your own car and your own house and yard can make a big difference in ways we could have not previously imagined. By the way, how many of these politicians actually live in high density mixed use housing with no garage space and take public transportation everyday?

So there you have it folks, from Burlingame's own futurists! Sometimes it takes someone who has seen (and made) history to be able to observe and point out what was under our very own noses....right, Joe?

Fugit All

A single family home cannot be bought in Burlingame or San Mateo and certainly not Hillsborugh for less than seven figures. It's a lovely place for all the folks who meet that income or inheritance threshold. Where do you propose that people who have deep connections to these communities or who work essential jobs, or both, who fall short of that bar live? Will you make the tired suggestion that they leave here move to more affordable places no matter how many decades they or their families have called this place home?

What's the logical extrapolation of your idea?

Less dense, affordable housing/ more single family, expensive properties ---> Fewer dwellings for teachers, hourly workers, low wage/low-skill (essential) workers ---> Longer commutes, disconnection from work/home environments for those workers ---> Ghettoization/ loss of community feeling so prized here ---> Widening gap between the economically blessed and the economically stressed

What a dream.

Bruce Dickinson

What you described is a nightmare and is solely your extrapolation! Where did Bruce Dickinson say that multi-family housing should be replaced by single-family homes with yards? Where did I say there was no room for essential service workers in Burlingame?

Fact of the matter is, and anyone who has read my numerous scribes on this site, is that Burlingame is unique (as opposed to Hillsborough) is that if affords numerous housing options, some of which for the Bay Area, are quite reasonable rental wise. Yes, they're expensive vs other parts of the state and country but such is the bay area overall. Burlingame isn't all that unique in that regard; it might be more here vs San Bruno, but fact of the mater is there all will be gradations of price set by supply and demand, at least in the near-term.

Building housing for the wrong reasons (transportation, closer to work for jobs I mentioned, usurping zoning concepts) is different from building housing for different income levels. Unfortunately, with COVID the very trends I mentioned about technology will continue to displace retail and restaurant jobs at an accelerated rate, and the Bay Area may no longer have the same "housing problem" in either single or multi-family.

Eventually technology and automation will likely lead to much greater re-distribution of wealth that I think will actually narrow and not widen income gaps. It almost has to as even the most skilled workers jobs will eventually be replaced by technology/automation! That's where concepts like taxes on production/automation, universal income will become a stronger part of the conversation. And guess what, those other concepts will have also been accelerated by the advent of COVID.

Trust me on this one, Bruce Dickinson has thought about it all! Joe's post brought up some interesting things that proved our prescience on some very specific issues...no more and no less than that!

Sign Me Up

Whenever someone calls your idea or suggestion or point of view tired you get to immediately declare victory and go home.

Fugit All

As someone who has lived here more than three decades longer than you, Bruce Dickerson, I can tell you my extrapolation is based on a trend I have personally witnessed and experienced. Unless people here make the hard choice to include their low-wage, low-skill, non-tech ,hourly earning neighbors into their concept of community, beginning with basic needs like housing and transportation, the future will be ghettoization and a yawning income gap. I would include gentrification, but that happened a long time ago.

Automation will not replace house cleaners, nannies, nursing assistants, elder care workers, or lots and lots of folks we've both encountered in the last two months including cooks, food delivery folks, and grocery store clerks... automation will not replace them all of them in your lifetime and probably not in mine. Why do we expect robots to take better care of others than we do already when we're the ones building them?

In the meantime, I'd love to see Joe take on the topic of universal income that you mentioned. I'm sure the comment section will be a virtual hug box.

As an aside, what in the world makes you say that building housing close to jobs is a "wrong reason" for doing so? Or is Bruce Dickerson a fan of hours long commutes and all its impacts?

Fugit All

Sign Me Up, you win. Bye!

Bruce Dickinson

Guys, when Bruce Dickinson writes things, and I know there's a lot of content to digest, every word is there for a reason!

"Building housing for the wrong reasons (transportation, closer to work for jobs I mentioned, usurping zoning concepts) "

The "jobs I mentioned" and associated housing are for the lawyers, tech people, finance etc who NO LONGER NEED to be close to urban areas.

This is the problem when your emotions get so charged that they overwhelm reason and logic. Read every word, it's there for a purpose!

Paloma Ave

Outside of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, the rest of the Bay Area is suburban. If you want to live in an urban setting you have an opportunity to do so.

I specifically chose to live in Burlingame because I want to live in a suburban area.

I resent people who have chosen to move here and then want to change the area.

Are you listening Mike Dunham? Are you listening Scott Weiner? We don't want or need high-density housing.

How about directing your efforts to getting employers to not or relocate to other areas, instead of ruining our area.

Barking Dog

Joe, Bruce and Paloma...well said. Thank you.


@Fugit All, I would agree with you that many of the jobs you list will not be overtaken by automation. They may be made much more efficient (fewer in person doc visits for example meaning less overall shift hours for elder care) but will continue. I am continually reminded of the long-running estimate that B'game is 55% rentals--and it's probably increasing as all of the new density comes on-line. None of that means my original assertions are wrong or uncaring. Maybe you aren't saying the latter but it does feel that way sometimes.

I'll take on universal income if B'game decides to dip its toe in that water. Let's let bankrupt Stockton run with its small trial first...LOL.

I note that no one has jumped in to answer my last question: Anyone care to guess whether or not rents would be coming down now if we had rent control in place?

Looks like the rent controllers are looking the other way as their position gets disproved as helping anyone.

Joanne Bennett

During this pandemic I have been so grateful to have been able to live in my single family home with a yard that I could garden in and grow my own vegetables. Have also told my adult daughters, one who lives near West Portal in San Francisco and another who lives in Petaluma that they are also very fortunate to have homes with yards. With small children and parks closed they would have both gone off the deep end!

Barking Dog

Gavin likes 8 acre spreads gifted to him and tax free



This is from the SacBee service:

It started with a Sunday Wall Street Journal editorial from President Donald Trump and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, titled “We’ll protect America’s suburbs.”

“For the past three years, the state senator who represents Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco has led a push to abolish single-family zoning in California,” they wrote in part.

They would be speaking of Sen. Scott Wiener, who has championed affordable housing bills in the State Senate.
Wiener responded in tweet, calling the op-ed racist.

“’Protecting America’s suburbs’ = dog whistle for race segregation,” Wiener wrote, adding, “Damn right I’m doing this work. I won’t give up.”

Let's be clear, there's a racist in that conversation--it just not Trump or Ben Carson.



Time to turn attention to climate change and housing


With the election behind us and the choice of 78% of San Mateo County voters, Joe Biden, now occupying the White House, many of us concerned about the last four years of chaotic, incompetent governance at the federal level can turn our attention back to local matters.

On two of the most crucial issues facing our state — climate change and housing — two Northern California cities took decisive action in the last week to build a more equitable, sustainable future.

First, Sacramento became the first city in the state to eliminate single-family-only zoning, by an 8-0 vote. By eliminating density-based restrictions in their city code, they will soon allow duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes by-right everywhere, enabling these more affordable “missing middle” housing types to flourish without drastically altering the feel of existing neighborhoods.

Second, Berkeley voted on Tuesday night to eliminate parking minimums in virtually all of the city, laying the groundwork for new housing development to promote walkable, bikeable, transit-oriented lifestyles.

Eliminating exclusionary, low-density zoning and parking minimums are crucial steps for improving affordability and reducing carbon emissions here on the Peninsula. The inclusive, sustainable cities of the future will make it easy for residents to get out of their cars and live healthy, active lifestyles, while allowing a greater diversity of people to live in them. Progressive city councils on the Peninsula, like those in Redwood City, San Mateo, and now South San Francisco, would do well to study these examples to our north.

Mike Dunham


Paloma Ave

I am responding to the Daily Journal article from Mike Dunham:

Mike Dunham is from Pittsfield, NY, where the average price of house in $170k.

I want to sincerely thank you for coming to the City of Burlingame and constantly complaining about how our city is not the way you would like it to be.

Dunham complains that we must pack and stack housing because, with multiple degrees, he and his wife cannot afford to live here.

I would venture to say that the vast majority of people who have moved to Burlingame want to live in a suburb.

If you do live here ask yourself "Would I still want to live here if the homes on either side were to me torn down would I want a fourplex on each side?

Where would people park? Where would children go to school?

I believe, if we want to continue to live in a suburb, we should ALL urge Mike to move to a more urban area, such as San Francisco or Oakland.

Perhaps if he hears this from enough people he will leave us alone.

After all, if Mike isn't happy how can we be happy?


I just added this comment to a myopic post in NextDoor that showed how many people can be crammed into a 5,000 sq ft lot if you raise the density via row houses, six-plexes and five story apartments (yep, on 5,000 ft2). Enjoy:

Unfortunately it takes much more than the fourth grade multiplication tables to run a healthy, engaged, and liveable city. Perhaps you can add a row for the number of cars involved in each category and then ask yourself how many more parking structures will need to be added to the capital budget? Or how much investment needs to be made in the local and statewide electric grid to support this development? School classroom capacity? Let's just Zoom it forever, right? Water? Fuggetaboutit--not happening any time soon. There goes your Covid garden. Want a pet? Better get a goldfish. People who want to live in Soviet-style block housing have an choice--we call it Redwood City.

Barking Dog

From Nextdoor to Twitter



Sweet! I hit a nerve without even aiming. Notice the Twit-stream won't engage on the content. Why talk about parking, schools, privacy, water, the grid or anything else when you can just tweet mindlessly? Love the "intellectualism" of the left. Sitting around waiting for their next $1400 check.

Barking Dog, you are the best. Please continue to entertain us!


The last two comments, now deleted, got a bit too personal folks. Let's stick to the topic and related ideas and discussion. Thanks.

Barking Dog



Here are two letters to the editor in the DJ that should not be buried in the archives. Both make excellent points that are not part of the usual discussion on single-family zoning. The Law of Unintended Consequences is in effect:

“Suburban single-family homes will be the holy grail of Bay Area real estate,” according to San Francisco Realtor Nicholas Sprangler. “The most desirable real estate segment is, without a doubt, the single-family home market,” Spangler told the San Francisco Chronicle.

After the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, corporate interests, institutional investors and foreign money flooded the single-family home market, transforming much of it from owner-occupied to rental. Corporate entry into the single-family home market has helped push prices higher and would-be homeowners out.

In a recent article entitled “Why upzoning will make the ‘affordable housing crisis’ worse” Steve Martinot states, “any scheme that will lift zoning regulations will make it easier for the real estate financial corporations to absorb the rest of the supply. That is the gift that upzoning promises to give the real estate corporations.” Because land value increases when single family houses are up-zoned and replaced by fourplexes, it will lead to “price increases across the industry.” If the primary concern is the lack of affordable housing, up-zoning does nothing to solve the problem. Finish reading it here: https://www.smdailyjournal.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/the-real-cost-of-upzoning/article_ce01e002-934a-11eb-b10a-ab67a5a5d9bd.html#utm_source=smdailyjournal.com&utm_campaign=%2Fnewsletters%2Fheadlines%2F%3F-dc%3D1617372023&utm_medium=email&utm_content=read%20more

and the second one:

In his March 31 letter, “Legalize fourplexes: An open letter to San Mateo City Council,” Jonathan New quotes the New York Times that “San Mateo single-family zoning is steeped in racist redlining policy.” So much for relying on an “honest reliable source.”

Most San Mateo County residents would like the fourplexes constructed in Hillsborough, Atherton and Woodside. As Atherton has soaring median home prices because they have building and zoning regulations requiring homes to be on at least 1 acre — a great place for fourplexes!

It’s the same old story — the people with the money have the quality of life and it’s the working class people with the 30-year loans putting their children through school trying to make ends meet that are the subject of this absurd experiment. They are the ones that are always under attack for wanting to preserve their quality of life. Read the rest here: https://www.smdailyjournal.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/don-t-attack-working-class-homeowners/article_d1b6cc78-934d-11eb-a346-a338fd3b684e.html

Paloma Ave

It appears we have another "out of state" resident who has moved to our county and is telling us that we are doing it wrong (or at least not the way he wants it done).

Jonathan New has moved here from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Just like Frechette and Dunham from New York, he is telling us that single family housing is the root of most evil.

This is total b.s. There are single family homes all over the United States. They are highly desired by the vast majority of people who moved to San Mateo County over the decades.

If we had wanted to live in an urban area, we had the option to chose San Francisco or Oakland. Instead, we chose suburban San Mateo County

Then there is the tired and refuted argument that single family homes are racist and segregationist. THIS IS A LIE. (There were covenants in the PAST that placed restrictions, they are now against the law).

I worked with about 40 individuals of African, Asian, Hispanic and Caucasian origins who ALL owned single family homes.

None of us living here now want a multi-unit building next door. Traffic and parking are already a nightmare in some neighborhoods.

PLUS, where will be getting the water from for all of these additional residents?

If you are expecting help from State Assemblyman Kevin Mullin or State Senator Josh Becker, YOU BETTER START SPEAKING UP because from what I can tell, they are not on our side.

Don't just sit there after reading this and expect that "things will be o.k.." YOU MUST BE PROACTIVE and not reactive if you want to preserve your way of life.

Also, if you are expecting your HOA, city or county zoning laws will remain intact, they will not. State law will overrule local guidelines. In other words, the state will be running the show.

Please, please contact Mullins and Becker and let them hear what you have to say, before it is to late. A phone call, email or letter will carry weight.

Psych 201

Envy is an internal longing you feel for something someone else has. The millenials and the Gen Z kids have the internal longing for a standalone house of their own with a sidewalk out front and a yard but they are fearful that only the kids who were at the top of their high school class will be able to have that on the Peninsula. Thus they channel their envy into attacking the dream they feel they cannot achieve. Many attribute this to pseudo raciscm or equity or environmentalism but at its core it is envy. ENVY.


Jackie Speiers Hillsborough will never be bothered with these concerns.
Jackie considers herself above all the rest of us.
After all, she is a "pubic servant."


Mullin is
[email protected]

Becker is
[email protected]

To whom it may concern,
I am deeply against all the goals of UN Agenda 21 and UN Agenda 2030.
It is deeply concerning that you appear to be completely on board with global socialism and totalitarianism. Please change your views.

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