Officials: Condo-plan revision is ‘just as massive’

San Mateo officials had hoped in April that another visit to the drawing boards would have brought a proposed condominium project more in line with the city’s vision, but that was not the case at Tuesday night’s Planning Commission meeting.

The Nick Podell Company presented its revised plan for the 35-unit San Mateo Drive Condominiums on Tuesday night with a slightly different look and a less imposing façade to the community. But traffic and density concerns voiced by residents and commissioners at the April 24 meeting still remain.

“I was shocked when we got this package and it was just as massive as it was before,” said Vice Chair Kelly Moran. “I would be very surprised if this commission approved something this massive.”

Podell said the part of San Mateo close to the downtown area and public transportation, surrounded by high density offices and apartment complexes, is perfect for this development. He said the impact on traffic would be “negligible to nonexistent.”

Although the density has not changed, the project has been moved away from the street and the buildings on the project’s outer edge were reduced from four to two stories.

And while the developer has provided 71 parking spaces — up from required 66 — more than half of those use Klaus Parking Lifts, an Austrian product which raises and lowers cars to fit two in a single space.

“I’m afraid that the parking lifts are going to be sufficiently inconvenient for people so that they will not want to deal with it and will go find parking along the street,” Commissioner Christopher Massey said.

Moran said the state density bonus — which allowed the project to grow by six units and almost 13,000 square feet — is unnecessary in San Mateo, where developers are already required to devote 10 percent of their projects to moderate-income families.

The density bonus requires that developers target their affordable housing to low-income residents, which means an annual family income of no more than $90,500 in San Mateo County. The “moderate” income level is between $95,000 and $114,000, so while the density of the project rises, the target population is not improved dramatically.

After the commissioners listed their concerns over the project, Moran tasked Podell and his company to return at an undetermined date to present another version of the project.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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