Residents feel overcrowded by condo plan

While one of San Mateo’s incoming housing developments may not look as big as it once did, residents of one neighborhood are still worried about its potential traffic and density impacts.

On Tuesday, the San Mateo Planning Commission will again study the San Mateo Drive Condominiums, a 35-unit, four-story complex that could bring close to 100 new cars into an area rife with high-density developments. The planning department is also working on plans for the Tilton Place and Monte Diablo condominiums along North San Mateo Drive.

Although changes in the project may create a less-imposing structure, the increased density that will bring in the excess traffic has not diminished.

“The three new developments being planned in the area, if they go according to what the developers want, will bring as many as 100 new domiciles within two blocks, which could mean 200 automobiles in this small area,” said John Margaroni from the Tilton Terrace Homeowners Association.

When the item was first addressedApril 24, the commission sent the Nick Podell Company back to the drawing board to revise the plan to address the neighbors’ concerns. Other issues concerned the complex’s driveway feeding out too close to the intersection of Tilton Avenue and San Mateo Drive and the overall imposing feel of the structure.

“Had to do a lot of work on the massing and architectural style, and it was changed to reflect some of the commission’s desires and recommendations,” said Associate Planner Ken Chin.

The developers redesigned the structure so the corners are only two stories tall, rotated a courtyard and moved the driveway north, away from Tilton.

“Our goal was to increase the setbacks and make it feel more suburban," said Linsey Pekelsma from the Podell Company. “The courtyard faces the street now so it breaks up the front of the building.”

But because the density of the project is a result of the California State Density Bonus, the Planning Commission has no regulatory power over it. According to housing law, by providing 10 percent of the units at low-income levels, the density of the project can increase from 29 to 35 units, the total size of the project can increase by almost 13,000 square feet and six fewer parking spaces are needed.

Although only required to build 66 parking spaces, Podell has agreed to build 71 with some guest parking to meet a commission request.

“I understand the cumulative effect of so much change in one neighborhood,” Pekelsma said. “I feel like we’ve really looked at the planning commission’s comments and made considerable changes to the building, and I’m hoping that we get a favorable reception.”

If the commission approves of the changes, the developers will submit them as part of a formal planning application.

The Planning Commission meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in City Council Chambers, 330 W. 20th Ave. in San Mateo.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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