San Carlos planning commissioners raised a number of questions about parking, landscaping and loading locations but ended their meeting Monday night without deciding whether to recommend the City Council move the Transit Village project forward.
The meeting marked the second before the Planning Commission on the mixed-used project’s necessary permits and zoning. Monday night’s consideration of the four-story project around the existing train depot focused on the planning commissioners' own discussion.
The first meeting on the subject in September included staff and developer presentations and public comment but little time for the commission before its nighttime adjournment. Last night’s meeting similarly ended without a resolution although commissioners did indicate some strong opinions about plan aspects like tree maintenance, noise, traffic and loading times.
Landscaping on the berm was a a key discussion point as the commission debated how long it could require the developer to maintain trees and how many could be required. Accommodating three shuttles in the lot was another, with Commissioner Scot Marsters saying it should be a fixable problem because SamTrans is receiving $3.5 million in federal money for its new transit center which is part of the plan.
Vice Chair David Silberman, prompted by the Sierra Club, also asked if parking could be unbundled from the unit leases and was told it could be. Marsters suggested a compromise of one parking space per unit regardless of size with the others unbundled.
Marsters also questioned why the project barely meets regional congestion standards and transit passes for tenants of transit-oriented developments.
“If you’re not going to encourage people to use transit don’t call it a transit village,” Marsters said.
Currently the proposed 10.53-acre project site includes the existing historic train station and commuter parking lots, a vacant auto dealership building and vacant lots used seasonally for pumpkin patches and Christmas trees. The proposal calls for developer Legacy Partners turning the SamTrans land into eight four-story buildings with 280 multi-family apartments in six of them and 36,319 square feet of commercial space in three. The project would also include a public plaza, underground and surface parking and a new multimodal transit center with 226 commute parking spaces. The submitted plan also includes the south railroad corridor as a third component although no new development is intended right now.
The plan has been reduced since the environmental impact report was certified in January and Legacy Partners plans to pay in-lieu fees rather than provide 15 percent of units as below market rate housing.
Although the public was mum at Monday night’s meeting, the last hearing drew a mix of opinions from residents who feel the project is a good fit for the city and those — particularly nearby neighbors —who say the developer has in six years not resolved issues including parking, building size, landscaping and affordable housing.
A ballot referendum has been proposed if the City Council approves the Transit Village.
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