Millbrae, Calif. Mayor to Newsmax: Tiny Town on Hook for 20% of Homeless

Millbrae, Calif. Mayor to Newsmax: Tiny Town on Hook for 20% of Homeless

Monday, 28 August 2023 01:57 PM EDT

Ann Schneider, mayor of Millbrae, California, told Newsmax Monday that her town is being unfairly portrayed in media reports as an affluent town that doesn’t want to house homeless people in a local hotel.

“In terms of affluent city, people forget that our housing costs are very high here, and we are, in fact, one of the least affluent cities in San Mateo County,” Schneider said during an appearance on Newsmax’s “National Report.” “We’re one of the smallest cities, and 25% of our budget comes from hotel tax.

“We have seven hotels. One hotel is already being turned into housing, at a loss of $1.1 million. This hotel brings in about, as we recover from COVID, $545,000 to the city of Millbrae.”

“At our council meeting on July 11, the county came in, and that was a county town hall,” she continued. “They would not even let the city speak at that town hall. They came in and said, ‘Well, Millbrae, every community in San Mateo County must do its part, except the hilly cities of Portola Valley, Woodside, and Hillsborough and the last of the four extremely wealthy cities in our county, Atherton.’

“So Millbrae, with one of the smallest economies in the county, is being asked to handle 20% of the homeless issue, when we’re 2.8% of the population.”

Located 15 miles south of San Francisco, Millbrae is home to approximately 23,000 residents and boasts an average home price of $1.9 million. The city is reportedly set to approve the Project Homekey plan to turn a La Quinta hotel into a 99-unit apartment complex for homeless people, which has enraged local residents.

Homelessness has become an increasing problem in San Mateo County, as in many places in California, with the number of homeless people up 20% in the past few years.

Schneider said the town has already built affordable housing and has plans to build more. It also has an end-of-a-line BART (rail) station that pushes 30-50 unhoused people into Millbrae every night. The town is spending millions caring for these people, she said.

Acknowledging resident concern about the proximity of the La Quinta hotel to city schools and daycare facilities, Schneider said that her concern is “less about people” and “more about financing because that loss of basically a million dollars a year is money we’ve already allocated for redoing a park that hasn’t been redone in over 25 years.”

“Yes, there is a high school, a middle school, two daycare centers, all within a couple of blocks, but Millbrae is only 3.2 square miles, and most of it is owned, or a good portion, is owned by SFO [San Francisco International] Airport and SFPUC [San Francisco Public Utilities Commission],” she said. “So, we don’t have a lot of land for doing things. But the city is open to trying to find locations that are not right next to schools.”

Nicole Wells

Nicole Wells, a Newsmax general assignment reporter covers news, politics, and culture. She is a National Newspaper Association award-winning journalist.