Imagine hundreds of Foster City children clamoring onto buses each morning to go to a different city’s schools.
If the city grows by 730 new households, as it would if the mammoth Pilgrim-Triton redevelopment goes forward as planned, that image could become a reality, said Dawn McDaniel, a retired teacher who spoke at a Planning Commission meeting recently.
Impact on schools was one of the top concerns among many that residents raised about the Pilgrim-Triton project’s master plan, which the commission voted to approve last week. The redevelopment — the largest on the table in Foster City in recent history — would replace about 21 acres of warehouses and office space with 730 residential units and nearly 300,000 square feet of commercial space. The project is located just south of Highway 92 and east of Foster City Boulevard.
Many said the project could overburden the school district. The city’s three elementary schools currently each serve between 500 and 700 students — about the maximum an ideal elementary school should, said Joan Rosas, assistant superintendent for the San Mateo-Foster City School District. At one time, she said, Foster City Elementary School enrolled more than 1,000 students, and she said the district would like to avoid that from happening again. It’s unlikely the district could afford a new school in Foster City, she said.
McDaniel was one of more than 80 residents who attended the meeting last week, many of whom echoed McDaniel’s concerns. Others spoke in favor of the development they believe will breathe new life into a faded neighborhood.
Another concern of residents was the lack of information about the project. Though the city has been pondering this development for about three years, many who spoke last week said they only became aware of the project’s magnitude when McDaniel knocked on their doors and showed them parts of the environmental impact report, which laid bare the project’s inevitable impact on traffic. Some said they also worry about the effect of endless pile-driving on their homes’ foundations.
Commissioner Charles Bronitsky lives in the neighborhood and admitted he’s “still torn” about the project. He and other commissioners made it clear that the vote would simply recommend that the City Council certify the environmental impact report and rezone the land — not give developers free range to build whatever they want there.
By the numbers
A look at the Pilgrim-Triton redevelopment
Lot size: 20.75 acres
Location: Bordered by Highway 92, Foster City Boulevard and Hillsdale Boulevard.
What it would replace: 286,000 square feet of warehouses, retail stores and office space
What it proposes: Up to 730 residential units, 296,000 square feet of commercial space and a 1-acre park
Maximum building height: 95 feet
Source: Foster City Planning Department