Project OK’d despite height concerns

The need for affordable housing is overshadowing the concerns of residents who say their homes will be dwarfed by newly approved developments.

On Monday night, the Daly City Council voted unanimously in favor of a seven-story mixed-use project of 36 residential condominiums and 5,913 square feet of retail and office condos on the old Volkswagen dealership site at the busy corner of Westlake Avenue and Mission Street. The project was cheered by council members, union representatives and teachers who heralded the jobs and affordable housing it will bring, but many neighborhood residents protested that it would loom over their homes.

The project joins the six-story Landmark project at John Daly Boulevard and Mission Street approved in early 2005 and the 10-story hotel currently proposed along Junipero Serra Boulevard at Pacific Plaza on the list of developments that area neighborhood advocates feel are too tall. The projects along Mission Street are part of an effort to refurbish the commercial corridor with mixed-use development that provides both housing and business space.

In April, the Daly City Council of Homeowners & Residents Association adopted a resolution that anytime a development shares a common property line with a residential lot, it should not exceed 60 feet in height if the structure is within 100 feet of the property line.

Dana Smith, a Planning Commission member, questioned whether such sizable urban planning next to residential areas was “appropriate.” In the case of the Westlake and Mission project, single-family residences back right up to the site.

“It’s kind of like extremes, and where’s the middle road?” Smith said.

The increased size of the projects allows for more affordable housing, a desperate need in Daly City and around the Peninsula, said Councilmember Maggie Gomez, who said she would err on the side of affordable housing in such debates.

“You start to take away mass and you start taking away more affordable housing,” Gomez said.

Roughly five units of the 36 residential condos in the Westlake project will be deemed affordable, selling at $350,000 or less.

Ruth McHale, a 20-year teaching veteran in Daly City, said on Monday she could think of 20 families that have left the city in the last five years. Those departures affect enrollment and funding the districts receive from the state.

The five units of affordable housing would help the city retain families and help “suffering” school districts, McHale said.

dsmith@examiner.com

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