Although the Tuesday night meeting was supposed to be a “dialogue” about the Bay Meadows redevelopment, the few residents who spoke made it clear that it’s the end result, not the process, they’re concerned about.
“If people really want to live in Manhattan, they can go there and do it,” said Ed Beltier, one of only three residents who spoke. He told the combined panel of City Council members, planning commissioners, city staff and representatives from the developers that he has lost faith in San Mateo’s public projects because the police station was replaced after less than 40 years of use.
Although the actual project is smaller than the city initially anticipated, the traffic the site will generate is still the biggest concern for residents and elected officials alike.
The 750,000 square feetof commercial space, 100,000 square feet of retail and 1,067 housing units is well below any guidelines or possibilities set out by the city.
Another plot of land on the site — to be developed with the city — could contain up to 150,000 square feet of commercial space and 50 below-market-rate homes.
The base limits were set at 1.25 million square feet of commercial space, 150,000 of retail and 1,250 residential units.
Senior Project Manager Chris Meany, of the Bay Meadows Land Company, said although the city’s limits allowed a larger project, holding the project to 55 feet of height and 50 dwelling units per block ultimately narrows what can be done in the space.
Whatever is built will add traffic to the area, which is only heavily used on racing days. Ian McEvoy, of the San Mateo County Transportation Authority, said the organization is looking at options for ideal placement of the Hillsdale train station, but the council said they would accept nothing but its current location at the southeast corner of the redevelopment site.
Residents Frank and Evelyn George had another idea for mitigating the project’s traffic impact on the surrounding community.
“They could just not build it,” Evelyn George said.
But nothing — short of state action that makes horse racing in Northern California financially viable again — will prevent the project from going through, Meany said.
“Bay Meadows will be developed,” Meany said. “If you look at it, its 83-acres of fully underused land, with 18 acres of park, in the middle of the San Francisco Peninsula, it’s pretty exciting.”
Associate Planner Darcy Forsell said this meeting was the first of a series of monthly study sessions ending in December, with public hearings beginning in January.
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