San Mateo condos stir traffic worries

Ocean waves, stooges and amigos often come in threes. In San Mateo, so do high-density housing developments.

Three new complexes are set to spring up within two blocks of each other just north of downtown San Mateo, but their combined impact on traffic, parking and general community ambience has neighbors concerned.

Members of the Tilton Terrace Homeowners Association have spoken out at public meetings on the San Mateo Drive and Monte Diablo condominiums and the as-yet-unnamed development formerly known as Tilton Place. While each project would increase traffic in its immediate area, neighbors such as John Margaroni say the combined impact of all three is too much for the neighborhood to handle.

Associate Planner Christine Usher said the city is making sure to look at the “big picture,” and will address the combined impacts of so many projects.

“A lot of those issues will surface in the environmental review, so that’s where a lot of discussion will take place,” she said

Two of the projects, Monte Diablo and the Tilton Apartments — which have to be renamed after another Tilton Place was found — are being handled by Mayor Jack Matthews’ architectural firm. Matthews has said that he will recuse himself from discussions if the projects reach the council while he is a member.

Monte Diablo architect John Lucchesi said the firm is aware of the concerns and will do any traffic or parking studies needed by the planning department for the projects.

“Nobody designs in a vacuum,” Lucchesi said. “We’re aware of the difficulties and we’re trying to be sensitive.”

At the first study session for the Monte Diablo project June 12, North San Mateo Drive resident Linda Lara said the area is already experiencing traffic congestion and that more homes will strain city services.

But Usher and Lucchesi both said that the area — zoned for high-density projects — is ripe for these developments because it is within walking distance of both public transportation and the amenities offered downtown.

Lucchesi said a second public hearing and community meeting for the Tilton development is expected within weeks, and any additional meetings required by the city for Monte Diablo would be scheduled later, although nothing has been planned for that project at this time.

jgoldman@examiner.com


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