Burlingame residents and businesses are concerned about their family members, co-workers and fellow residents who can no longer afford to live in the community. People are also concerned about local businesses, schools and service providers that are struggling to hire and retain people.
For many years, Burlingame benefited from a range of housing options. For the past several decades approximately half of the housing in Burlingame has been rental and half ownership, accommodating a diverse and complementary range of households and incomes. However, like the rest of San Mateo County, in recent years Burlingame rents and home prices have increased significantly as the demand for housing created by robust job growth in the region has exceeded the amount of housing available. The imbalance has driven up the cost of housing for homebuyers and renters alike, has produced congestion and long commutes for workers, and has compelled friends and family members to move away because they can no longer afford to live here.
As we face this difficult situation that impacts our entire region as well as our city, we also know that our community has innovators and problem solvers. Together, we can make meaningful progress. The resources on this page have been assembled to help identify opportunities to address the housing challenge, ranging from near-term solutions such as homesharing, to longer-term initiatives such as development of new housing for a variety of household types and incomes.
What is "Burlingame Talks Together About Housing"?
Burlingame Talks Together About Housing is a joint effort by the City of Burlingame and the Home for All initiative of San Mateo County designed to allow the community to learn more about the current supply of housing in Burlingame, and possibilities for programs and new housing on the horizon. The goal is to engage a broad cross section of people who live and work in Burlingame to talk about current challenges related to housing and to share ideas.
The first Burlingame Talks Together About Housing community conversation was held on February 10, 2018. The second community conversation built on the first one and was held April 28th. Through both conversations, community members developed some shared values and guidelines for housing in Burlingame:
Housing Stability and Security – Increasing people’s ability to stay in the community, fostering family and community connections
Diversity – Supporting multiple aspects of diversity:
- Socioeconomic/occupational/generational/of all kinds
- Diversity of housing types
- Diversity of affordable housing opportunities, especially for those serving the community
Responsible Growth – Approaches that understand impacts on current and future infrastructure (including transportation and schools)
Inclusion – Housing decisions should include input from all levels, all sectors
The input from these meetings is helping the City of Burlingame as it designs its housing program. To be placed on the email notification list for updates about housing and future community conversations, please email Planning Manager Kevin Gardiner.
Documents to Download
What is affordable housing?
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has defined "affordable housing" as being housing for which the cost to the household, based upon the number of persons in the household, does not exceed more than 30% of the gross monthly income of that household unit. Households paying more than 30% of their monthly income for housing-related expenses are considered to be "income burdened" and may ultimately have difficulty affording the other necessities of life: food, clothing, transportation and healthcare. HUD estimates that 12 million renter and homeowner households now pay more than 50 percent of their annual incomes for housing. A family with one full-time worker earning the minimum wage cannot afford the local fair-market rent for a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the United States.
What is the Bay Area's affordable housing challenge?
To put the housing affordability issue in perspective for San Mateo County and the City of Burlingame, one need only consider the following facts:
The 2017 Area Median Income (AMI) for a family of four in San Mateo County is $115,300. For the State of California this figure is $80,458. For the United States the figure is $68,000.
Within San Mateo County (all areas, including Burlingame), the income cap for a "low-income" residence for a family of four is $105,350 (80% of AMI). The cap for "very low-income" units for the same family size is $65,800 (50% of AMI). For "extremely low-income" units the cap is $39,500 (30% of AMI). The "moderate-income" cap is $138,360 (120% of AMI).
Within the City of Burlingame, the "average" sale price for a single-family dwelling in 2017 was $2.25 million. The average sale price for condominium units for the same time period was $1.05 million (source: San Mateo County Association of Realtors).
For the year 2017, the average rental cost for dwelling units in Burlingame was $2,425 for one-bedroom units, $3,895 for two-bedroom units and $4,720 for three-bedroom units (source: RentCafe.com). Using these rent rates, a family of four would need an income of $97,000+ per year and $188,800+ per year to afford either a two- or three-bedroom rental unit without exceeding HUD's 30% threshold.
What is being done locally to encourage more affordable housing options?
Within HUD's Office of Community Planning and Development, the Office of Affordable Housing Programs (OAHP) administers a number of grant programs that are available to state and local governments to fund a wide range of activities that promote the production of affordable housing. In San Mateo County, funding from these sources is typically administered by the Department of Housing (web-link: County of San Mateo Department of Housing). Through these programs, direct assistance may be made available to qualifying families, or funding may be provided through a competitive process to affordable housing developers wishing to construct new housing within the region.
At the local level, the City of Burlingame's 2015-2023 Housing Element sets forth policies that are intended to promote the production of more affordable units in the community. Follow this link to review the Housing Element: 2015-2023 Housing Element.
What are some County resources for those seeking housing assistance?
What other resources (e.g. home-sharing, down-payment assistance, Legal Aid) are available?
- Home for All San Mateo County - countywide initiative to increase affordable housing opportunities in San Mateo County
- Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County - affordable housing advocacy
- County of San Mateo Superior Court - Landlord/Tenant Clinic
- Guide to Residential Tenants’ and Landlords' Rights and Responsibilities
- Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County
- Samaritan House - food, clothing, housing assistance, rent, and utility assistance
- Project Sentinel - housing counseling agency
- Housing Industry Foundation - emergency housing assistance
- HEART of San Mateo County - down payment assistance for home purchases
- HIP Housing - Home Sharing Program
- HIP Housing - Self Sufficiency Program
- United Way Bay Area - SparkPoint - financial counseling and assistance
What changes were made to California Housing Law in 2017 that affect affordable housing production?
Housing affordability is an urgent issue in California, where a majority of renters (over 3 million households) pay more than 30 percent of their income toward rent and nearly one-third (over 1.5 million households) spend more than 50 percent of their income on rent. In addition, California’s homeownership rates are at the lowest point since the 1940s. This has led many experts in the field to declare the current state of housing supply and affordability a crisis.
In his January 2017 budget proposal, Governor Brown set the tone and parameters for substantive action to address housing supply and affordability issues. He indicated that new and increased funding for housing must be instituted along with regulatory reform that streamlines local project approval processes and imposes more stringent measures of local accountability. These parameters guided legislative action throughout 2017, resulting in a package of bills signed into law. Gov. Brown and state legislators made significant changes to local land-use processes and approved new sources of revenue for housing construction. The following reference guide prepared by the League of California Cities covers recent actions taken by the State Legislature to address the housing crisis and provides in-depth analysis and guidance on changes made to state and local landuse law that will affect city processes and functions related to housing development: A 2018 Guide to New Housing Law in California.