Samantha Weigel/Daily Journal
Site of the proposed Hillsdale Terrace Apartments on the 2700 block of El Camino Real in San Mateo.
Building for a more transit-oriented future is on the minds of San Mateo city officials and the developers of a proposed 55-foot residential complex on El Camino Real in San Mateo, however, some residents fear it will increase traffic.
According to the pre-application for the Hillsdale Terrace Mixed Use project, three parcels, including the site of the old Taxi’s Restaurant, from 28th to 27th avenues on El Camino Real, would be turned into a five-story building with ground floor retail, three levels of underground parking and 68 units for sale between one and three bedrooms. There would be a total of 136 bedrooms, 172 parking spaces and 17,328 square feet of retail space.
The city would have to permit a developer request for a state high-density bonus to increase the amount of units by 35 percent and will provide a 15 percent, very-low income, affordability component, said City Planner Tricia Schimpp.
The pre-application was wrapped at a Feb. 25 Planning Commission study session and, after hearing about parking and design element concerns, the developer is now tweaking its final application.
Although Hillsdale Terrace is in the very early stages of planning, the current site is being underutilized and is an appropriate site for a mixed use, housing and retail facility, Hillsdale Terrace applicant Albert Costa said.
To reach the 55-foot height max, the project will need to meet criteria approved by the City Council, Schimpp said. The project should provide amenities such as landscaped plazas and covered parking, have a high quality design and be visually related to surrounding buildings. In addition, the extra height shouldn’t create adverse shadow or visual impacts on surrounding residences and the city’s infrastructure needs to be adequate to accommodate the proposed development, according to a city staff report.
Although residents of the adjacent neighborhood are fearful of parking impacts, the hope is to eventually reduce the amount of cars through developments like this near public transit, Schimpp said.
“Under the [transit-oriented development] influence, you’re trying to restrict the amount of automobiles as much as possible,” Schimpp said. “The future, the vision of the TOD is to really try and encourage people to be more pedestrian and walk or bike and have facilities around there that are easy to get to.”
But neighbors fear the already bad traffic and parking circumstances along 27th and 28th avenues will be aggravated by the increase of housing and retail.
“Neighbors are very concerned about inadequate parking as it exists in their neighborhood. They feel like they don’t have enough parking so, in the addition of the complex, they feel like it would be affecting their parking supply as it stands,” Schimpp said.
Walter Schwartz lives on 27th Avenue and based on the developer’s pre-application, he fears street parking will become even more competitive and the increased traffic would be harmful to the neighborhood.
The area is already dense; there’s a fire station, two schools, a church and two senior housing complexes all within a half mile from the site, Schwartz said. There’s little parking close to El Camino Real and the proposed ratio of 1.3 parking spaces per two-bedroom unit is not sufficient, Schwartz said.
Schwartz said he was somewhat relieved to find that the planning commissioners shared many of the neighbors’ concerns including parking and made design suggestions.
The formal application will include the commissioners’ and public’s input and Hillsdale Terrace will work on providing parking as outlined by state and city guidelines, Costa said.
One great thing it’s planning on keeping in its proposal, Costa added, is having the parking three floors underground. It’s more difficult and costly for the developer but better for the community. No one wants to stare at an ugly parking structure, Costa said.
The developer will follow the California Green Building Standards Code and create a green roof that will be landscaped with low-maintenance indigenous species of plants, according to the report.
Schwartz said he thought it was a clever idea and would compliment the area if done effectively.
Costa said it’s important to provide people with open space and the project will include attractive landscaping in the front of the building and a large outdoor plaza type space in the back to provide a buffer between the apartments and the existing neighbors.
The pre-application was preliminary and will evolve as Hillsdale Terrace moves forward with suggestions and city staff support, Costa said.
“We just got out of a study session so we’re just hoping to work with all the city staff and the commissioners to create a successful project,” Costa said. “We’re excited to make a beautiful project for this blighted site.”
There is no current timeline for a formal application submittal or planning process. For more information about the Hillsdale Terrace Mixed Use project visit www.cityofsanmateo.org.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 106