Smaller Bay Meadows plan may be costly

Reductions in the size of the Bay Meadows Phase II development could eliminate almost $900,000 in annual revenue, on top of the $600,000 the city already stands to lose from the closing of the racetrack next year.

According to the Bay Meadows Phase II Sight Plan and Architectural Review, a report released Thursday, the proposed project on the 83-acre site is significantly smaller than originally thought, well under the limits set by the city.

That change — and the impacts to the city — will be discussed at a series of study sessions in coming months, the first of which is on Tuesday involving the City Council and Planning Commission.

“We saw this as an opportunity to get a little more density, particularly in the corridor, but in the long run I think the impact is going to be fiscal,” said Community Development Director Bob Beyer.

While the city set limits of 1.25 million square feet of commercial space, 150,000 square feet of retail and 1,250 residential units, the project only contains 750,000 and 100,000 square feet of commercial and retail space respectively and 1,067 housing units.

“For a traffic impact, definitely less is better,” said San Mateo resident Mike Germano, past president of the Beresford-Hillsdale Neighborhood Association, a group that has opposed density in the area.

Although the less-dense project will reduce the traffic into and out of the complex, the loss of revenue to the city will be something the council has to address at the study session, Beyer said.

With the original projections, Beyer said the city stood to gain approximately $1.6 million annually from various taxes, but with the reduction, that amount falls to $750,000.

The reduction in housing will also reduce the number of affordable housing units on site. In addition to an acre of land being set aside for a city-run below-market-rate housing complex, the project could have included up to 125 affordable units, based on the city’s requirement that 10 percent of housing projects be made available at less than market rates.

The question of horse racing will also likely be addressed, especially if the track is given a stay of execution by the California Horse Racing Board in June.

“We just don’t know what’s going to happen, if the board makes a different ruling, the best it would do is delay [the project],” Beyer said.

The study session will be held at 5:30 p.m. on May 29 at the Meeting Pavilion at the San Mateo County Event Center, 2495 S. Delaware St.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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