Housing, mixed-use zoning focus of meeting

San Mateo leaders are working hard to make sure that residents find a place to hang their hats and call “home,” but some planning commissioners worry that this may be coming at the expense of finding places to get their oil changed, buy new tires or find other services.

Tonight, the Planning Commission will look at a mixed-use development for the location where the Firestone Lodge stands, between South El Camino Real and Palm Avenue near 21st Avenue. The project contains a proposed 19,850 square feet of high-density housing and 36,070 square feet of commercial space for service providers.

Planning Commissioner Robert Gooyer said that while the applicant, Firestone Lodge Partners, has improved the project over the last year, a number of concerns still remain, including the loss of potential commercial space and a conflict between industrial space on one side of the property and residential on the other.

“If everything turns into housing, after a while if you want to get your car worked on, you have to go into the next city,” Gooyer said. “It’s getting close to the point where we need to step back and see what’s going on.”

<p>And just like recent projects in the downtown area, residents, including Gary Isoardi and Stephanie Saba — who both wrote letters to the city regarding the project — are concerned that the site will bring more human-traffic density to an area that is already filling up.

The designers are asking for zoning amendments to build up to five stories of retail and condominiums and a single-story service building opening onto Palm Avenue.

When the project was first proposed a year ago, Isoardi cautioned the city to keep the height to two or three stories, to avoid having “El Camino someday turn into a mini-downtown San Francisco.”

ButGooyer said the height of the building is not ultimately the problem with the project, because tall buildings would buffer the areas behind them from the noise off of El Camino Real.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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