San Carlos’ businesses that find themselves outgrowing their current space in the industrial area of the city may be given a little more room to grow.
After watching companies like automotive builder Tesla move out of the city in 2010 because it needed more space, city staff is proposing increasing minimum lot sizes in the zoning areas that deliver a significant piece of its tax and employment base. These are not zoning districts meant to accommodate small-scale uses but where more land might be need for business operations.
“What we’re finding is we’ve become an incubator but if we want them to grow we have to give these businesses someplace to grow into,” Community Development Director Al Savay said.
The city recently sat down with NatureBox, an company that delivers subscription snack boxes to clients through the mail, to discuss its expansion plans and Savay said that is a perfect example of the type of business that wants to stay where it is but will eventually need to stretch.
“It’s the simple economics of space,” Savay said.
Increasing the lot size could also attract new or relocating businesses, particularly in biotechnology and research and development, and keep the city competitive with neighboring communities.
At its last meeting, the Planning Commission agreed to recommend the City Council approve the changes which would hike the current 5,000 square feet minimum to 40,000 square feet in the light industrial area, double the current 10,000 square feet size in heavy industrial, switch the industrial arts from 20,000 square feet to 1 acre and from 5,000 square feet to 20,000 square feet in the general commercial industrial.
In choosing the new sizes, San Carlos staff looked at the minimum lots of other Peninsula cities and found they ranged from 10,000 square feet to 3 acres.
At the same meeting, the commission also approved recommending other zoning amendments meant to clarify or improve the city’s land use regulations and development standards. These included reducing the sidewalk clearance for outdoor dining and retail from 6 feet to 4 feet. Four feet still meets ADA requirements while, according to city staff, the current 6-foot mandate limits downtown merchants.
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