San Mateo reaps benefits from high-density housing

Bicyclists can thank high-density housing residents for a new bike lane along Delaware Street in San Mateo — and probably for future bike and pedestrian friendly projects.

The city of San Mateo has been promised $37,000 — and stands to gain perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars more — for developing high-density housing near train lines through a regional transit agency’s incentive program.

The program’s goal is to motivate governments to give the thumbs up to high-density, low-income housing developments within one-third of a mile of train lines. The program is run by San Mateo County’s City and County Association of Governments.

City governments can apply for the money every two years, and can earn up to $2,000 per bedroom in new, transit-oriented developments, with bonus money available for low- to moderate-income housing, said Tom Madalena, the program’s administrator.

In the last two-year cycle, San Mateo submitted the 19-unit Palm Residence project for review, and the resulting $37,000 grant has been devoted to the new bike path on Delaware Street, between Bay Meadows and Bermuda Drive, Public Works Deputy Director Susanna Chan said.

But the city stands to gain much more. At Monday night’s San Mateo City Council meeting, the council gave Public Works approval to submit three projects to the program. The three projects, in various stages of planning, would total more than 750 units of housing, if they were completed, Chan said.

In the unlikely event that the program granted the maximum of $2,000 per bedroom, San Mateo would earn somewhere in the ballpark of $3 million for transit projects.

The final figure won’t be that high, Madalena said, because the program fund has only a total of $3 million to distribute among all cities in the county who qualify for the program. In the last cycle, for example, applicants were only given $1,100 per bedroom, he said.

kworth@examiner.com

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