Candidate: Build More Granny Houses in Wealthy Neighborhoods

Supervisor candidate Andy Cohen says the extra property taxes generated would benefit the county's poor.


Virtually to a person, candidates for the open San Mateo County Board of Supervisor District 4 position believe the answer to traffic congestion on the Peninsula is by creating more housing near our transportation corridors.

“We have to make it easy for people by creating this housing, and make people want to do it,” said Ernie Schmidt, a Redwood City Planning Commissioner, at a Saturday morning breakfast in Millbrae hosted by the North Peninsula Democratic Club.

“Let’s have smart growth, and create a smart, reliable system,” said Memo Morantes, a member of the San Mateo County Board of Education.

But one candidate stepped away from the pack with his own ideas.

Andy Cohen, a Menlo Park City Council member, wants local homeowners to build secondary houses on their private property.

“You don’t close down sprawl without driving rent prices and sale prices up,” says Cohen. “I want a true amnesty (from government regulations) for illegal secondary dwellings. How many people are living in poverty? How many people are destitute, and living in unhealthy environments? We can have secondary dwellings in the wealthier neighborhoods, and those fees (taxes paid by homeowners) can improve the lives of the poorer people in our county.”

“It would put people to work,” continues Cohen, “and get our children and our grandparents into dwellings close to relatives where they could be watched over, cared for, and therefore, helped. Everyone benefits.”

Why isn’t it happening now? “Planning departments don’t encourage it, and people don’t want it in their backyards,” says Cohen. “The populace has changed; four million people lived alone 50 years ago, now 40 million people live alone. We can do this.”

Also participating in Saturday’s breakfast: Supervisor candidates Shelly Masur, a member of the Redwood City School Board, East Palo Alto Councilmember Carlos Romero, and Menlo Park Mayor Kirsten Keith.

Candidates Warren Slocum and David Woods did not attend.

District 4 includes Menlo Park, Redwood City, East Palo Alto and unincorporated North Fair Oaks and Oak Knoll.

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