Bay Meadows spurs council race debate

The continued redevelopment of Bay Meadows and the traffic and density issues of a city nearing 100,000 residents will factor heavily into the next four years of City Council government, a task five residents have stepped up for a chance to take on.

As high-density projects pop up around Bay Meadows, including the Delaware Place project and the Kmart site, and the downtown area, with the condominium projects around Tilton Avenue, three of the candidates, lawyer Anne Arnold, local contractor Peter Tyo and former Planning Commissioner Bertha Sanchez said they would like to see the council call for overarching traffic studies rather than the piece-by-piece impact studies done on current projects.

“Not only has the current City Council failed to take into account the cumulative impacts on traffic of recently approved residential and commercial developments, but it seems they are far too willing to accept development proposals without listening to the reasonable concerns of the people who live in San Mateo,” Arnold said.

Although neighbors have spoken out at council meetings regarding their concerns over traffic in the downtown area, Mayor Jack Matthews, hoping for another term on the council, said that he wants residents to put more of their trust in traffic studies that the city also relies on.

A big source of that traffic — Tyo fears — will be the Bay Meadows project, and he suggests that the current redevelopment course was the wrong way to deal with one of San Mateo’s defining landmarks.

Matthews and Councilmember John Lee, however, say the council made the right decisions in approving the Bay Meadows Land Co.’s plans for the site, saying “the people who think of San Mateo and Bay Meadows together are a minority.”

Sanchez echoed the current struggle by the Friends of Bay Meadows to pass a ballot referendum requiring public approval for the project, saying that the issue should have been put to a vote so that “one way or another, at least people would have felt that they had a say on the project.”

All the candidates agree on continuing the city’s efforts to promote business growth downtown and Matthews and Lee tout the city’s success in returning the Economic Development and Business Assistance program to a downtown location.

“We need to find out what businesses are out there [in San Mateo],” Matthews said. “We will continue to lose our incubated businesses if we cannot serve them.”

Anne Arnold

» Age: 32

» Occupation: Land-use lawyer

» Time in San Mateo: Two years

» Council experience: None

John Lee

» Age: 76

» Occupation: Retired businessman

» Time in San Mateo: 28 years

» Council experience: Nine years

John “Jack” Matthews Jr.

» Age: 61

» Occupation: Architect

» Time in San Mateo: 34 years

» Council experience: Four years

Bertha Sanchez

» Age: 69

» Occupation: Emergency room nurse

» Time in San Mateo: 60 years

» Council experience: Planning Commission, eight years

Peter Tyo

» Age: 51

» Occupation: Contractor

» Time in San Mateo: 51 years

» Council experience: None

jgoldman@examiner.com

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