Plan for Bay Meadows Phase II racing ahead

Planning for the future neighborhood on the Bay Meadows racetrack site kickS into high gear this fall as redevelopment opponents continue their crusade to take the proposal to the voters.

The design of three new neighborhood parks will be the focus of tonight’s Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, where commissioners and the public will create more detailed guidelines for those public spaces. San Mateo’s Planning Commission will also discuss specific designs for the 83.5-acre site and its homes, commercial and retail spaces on Tuesday.

When it comes to the park proposals, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Gary Parma said he likes what he sees, from the 12-acre community park with a potential for sports fields to two smaller neighborhood spaces and “view corridors” throughout the site. But he’d like to see a few changes.

“The developer has declined … to put a bathroom in the central neighborhood park,” Parma said. In addition, he’d like to see larger trees — not saplings — used in neighborhood landscaping.

Tuesday’s planning meeting will establish more concrete guidelines for “what [Bay Meadows] will look like,” according to Stephen Scott, principal planner. Talks will focus on details such as the variety of heights among Bay Meadows’ new buildings and the look of building facades and public spaces.

“The design document goes block by block,” Scott said.

No votes will be taken tonight or Tuesday.

The San Mateo City Council voted unanimously in November of 2005 to redevelop the racetrack site, adding streets, 1,250 new homes, 1.2 million square feet of office space, 150,000 square feet of retail and 15 acres of park space.

The Friends of Bay Meadows, whose plan to bring the Bay Meadows Phase II plan before voters was shot down by a San Mateo Superior Court judge in July, will appeal that decision in the next two weeks, according to their attorney, Stuart Flashman. However, he doesn’t expect a court hearing anytime soon.

“They’re not going to give it a real high priority, so it could be a year before this appeal is heard,” Flashman said.

Meanwhile, the City Council was expected Monday night to approve the sale of Jefferson at Bay Meadows — 575 apartments and 14,000 square feet of retail, including Starbuck’s and Quizno’s, part of the first phase of redevelopment at Bay Meadows — to Archstone-Smith Operating Trust. Planning staff recommended approval of the sale, as long as Archstone promised to take care of the linear park between Starbuck’s and Whole Foods, according to Community Development Director Bob Beyer.

Unlike a failed deal last year with an investor who hoped to turn those apartments into condominiums, Archstone will retain them as rentals, Beyer said.

The Parks and Recreation Commission meets tonight at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall, 33 West 20th Ave. The Planning Commission meets Tuesday at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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