In unanimously approving a proposal to build 73 residential units where the AAA insurance office building currently stands at 1650 S. Delaware St., San Mateo officials and residents weighed how the apartment building would contribute to the changing aesthetic of the surrounding area and provide housing near one of the city’s Caltrain stations.

Located just north of the 599-unit, 12-acre Station Park Green apartment complex and south of the post office at 1630 S. Delaware St., the new residential building’s site is less than half a mile away from the Hayward Park Caltrain station and a 935-unit, mixed-use development dubbed the Passage at San Mateo that would take the place of a shopping center southeast of Concar Drive and South Delaware Street.

Having reviewed the project last year, Chair Dianne Whitaker commended the developer during the Tuesday, Aug. 15, meeting for improving the design of the five-story building in the months since the commission’s meeting last year. The building’s architect Jonathan Ennis said the project’s design was inspired by examples of Spanish colonial-influenced architecture in San Mateo, and noted the project features a large archway on the facade facing South Delaware Street.

Whitaker said she shared the sentiment of residents concerned about the design disparity on recently-constructed or proposed buildings near the project site with more modern looks, which also include a 300,000-square-foot office complex at the corner of Concar Drive and Delaware built by developer Pearlmark Hines.

“I am pleased with the evolution of the design and where we are at tonight,” she said. “I don’t believe [the buildings] should all look alike, but in this particular case there is quite a jarring difference between the looks of the Hines office buildings, Station Park Green and this particular project.”

Several residents stepped forward in support of the project’s design as well as its provision of dozens of housing units near the city’s Hayward Park Caltrain station. Citing the imbalance of jobs and housing on the Peninsula, longtime Parkside resident Tom Taber predicted the project would reduce traffic congestion stemming from State Route 92. Because many working in San Mateo contend with long commutes, the project offered employees of San Mateo businesses and offices an opportunity to live close to their jobs, said Taber.

“I would suggest that the best way to reduce traffic congestion is to provide more housing here on the Peninsula,” he said. “This project is in exactly the right place … more housing on this side of the Bay is going to reduce traffic.”

Commissioner Ramiro Maldonado was also supportive of building housing near public transit, but voiced a concern shared by residents and other commissioners that the project didn’t provide enough affordable units. By providing six units at a very-low income level, the developer qualifies for a state density bonus, said city planner Roscoe Mata.

“My only hesitation and my only reservation is that yes, six [below-market rate unit]s are [nice], but I believe we should have more than six,” said Maldonado.

Jeff Warmoth, a representative of the developer, said the developer aimed to maximize the number of affordable units the project could offer to residents at a very low-income level after learning how great the need is for units affordable at a very-low-income level and how challenging it can be to build them.

“We felt like that’s a real benefit to the city,” he said. “There are six families who at a very low-income level will be able to qualify to live in this wonderful place.”

Though Commissioner John Ebneter commended the project for contributing to the diversity of building designs in the area, he noted he still had lingering concerns about the effect the slate of new and upcoming developments would have on traffic in the area. He looked to ongoing monitoring of developments like Station Park Green as it is leased out to new residents to shed light on whether initial traffic projections have been accurate.

“I have a concern, as I have mentioned in the past, with this whole area and the traffic impacts,” he said. “I think it’s going to be quite telling over the next 12 to 16 months to see how this neighborhood and the traffic situations evolve.”

In other business, the commission postponed a vote on a proposal to build a five-story, 80-unit apartment building with 7,000 square feet of retail space just north of Central Park. The developer, Essex Property Trust, submitted plans to build an eight-story development with 117 units some five years ago, and resubmitted scaled-back plans last fall. Though public comment on the project was heard Tuesday, commissioners voted to continue a discussion of the project at its Aug. 28 meeting because the meeting lasted past 11 p.m.

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(13) comments

Mr Eddy

This building looks horrible, the city council approves bad projects, just because it's close to the train station. Our neighborhood can no longer support more of these big housing projects, our traffic is so bad, the parking is spilling over near my street and even near my house. The city planners don't seem to care about their local residents, they only see more money and real estate from developers. The quality of life is being negatively impacted, since more high density projects only add more crowds and loud noises.

vincent wei

Eaadams...this is the make up of the SM TMA....

Julie Baigent – Concar Enterprises
Sam Cheikh – Hines
Sarah Etheredge – MidPen Housing Corporation
Brad Underwood – City of San Mateo
Alan Talansky – EBL&S Development Corp./Essex Property Management
Donovan Cole – Westlake Urban
Staff: John Ford – Commute.org
Guests: Gary Heap – City of San Mateo
Rachael Stoddard – Essex Property Management
Gemma Lim – Westlake Realty
Michelle Morales – Westlake Realty

Kind of like having a fox in the hen house...

And the San Mateo TMA DOESN'T do Caltrain counts...which is the point I clearly referred to as being unsubstantiated claims by the YIMBY's and developers.

Eaadams

read the report it says pretty clearly that all the developers were required to be part of this group in order to be developers in this area they're the ones who are paying for it and Reporting up to the city. further if you can find some sort of error in their methodology or worse fraud you should be pointing it out because that would be a major deal. But you know that's not the case because people without sort of money at stake don't make mistakes.

I love this idea of saying that they are tracking car trips and bike trips and pedestrian traffic overtime and showing a decrease in the car use however it's not good enough because they're not counting and serving every people getting onto a train. development causes traffic people say then they measure traffic and they show it going down and then people say it's not going down count all the people on the train. Absurd circular debate. Clearly bad faith.

vincent wei

Eaadams....they are using Caltrain to sell these developments but your defensive response says that I'm not supposed to ask about that particular issue?

Nice try.

And so you don't have any problem with the fact that developers are in charge of the TMA report and that is okay with you???...The same group of developers that have been on it since it's inception...and no problem with their "guests" represent real estate interests also?...and the fact that there is no neighborhood group or representative on the TMA and never has been...I've looked at the methodology and it's very self serving and narrow in it's focus...the windows that they use are suspect and somewhat arbitrary......Hire any consultants lately?

And again, where is the Caltrain data??? Well, just in case it doesn't match your narrative........
Here you go http://www.caltrain.com/Assets/__Agendas+and+Minutes/JPB/Board+of+Directors/Presentations/2017/2017-06-01+Annual+Passenger+Counts.pdf

Caltrain ridership down at 19 out of 29 stations into 2017. One station no change.

barbniss

It is crazy to think that adding more than 1,600 units to one corner along with two office buildings will reduce traffic.

Two additional issues staring us in the face (thank you RTOD and those who worked on it from 2002-2005) are as follows:

1) the failure to include the requirement for amenities needed to support the new and current residents when you take them away to add more housing. Who really thinks that Trader Joe's alone can support 1,600 new households plus all of the current residents for all of our needs? Without sufficient grocery options walking/biking distance from our homes, we will all be getting in cars to pick-up groceries (or add to cars on the road for delivery convenience), not to mention other needed services like dry cleaning, pharmacies, etc.

2) What is completely ignored by the RTOD is trips counted as a result of not providing needed amenities. The RTOD requirement is to reduce trips to various sites by 25%. So, you have 12,000 trips to the Rite Aid shopping center (where we get our amenities). You need to reduce the number of trips to the site, so you remove the amenities and those using these amenities no longer have a reason to go there. OF COURSE TRIPS WILL BE REDUCED. What the RTOD absolutely FAILS to do is address where and how all of the current and new residents will replace their use of the site providing amenities. What was in walking distance
to current residents (AAA, Michaels, Rite Aid, and more) is now gone, so we ALL (new and current residents) will have to get in our cars to drive further away to reach our amenities that USED to be local.

When will our local government who helped create the RTOD as well as Senators Weiner and Hill address these real issues?

Eaadams

barbniss... sounds like most of your concerns could be fixed with an Amazon Prime subscription.
- amazon fresh & safeway both deliver
- amazon will soon roll out PillPack for your CVS needs
- most anything you need at AAA is online now with things like maps.google.com and other helpful travel websites, also AAA has an amazing app!
- with a prime subscription the whole foods down the road gets you some reasonable discounts now.
- And you might not know this but the Blockbuster video it also closed, but that is ok because you can stream videos right to your tv via the internet. It is amazing.

I really think it would help you to learn to use amazon.com since most of your concerns are shopping related. It is really really easy. I think if you all can post here & run a coordinated messaging campaign on multiple facebook & nextdoor websites I am 100% sure you can learn amazon.com. Give it a shot! :)

vincent wei

Eaadams...so all of these services you are touting are free right?... Of course not, so I wonder what the total charges are these days and what they do over time to ones' budget, say someone saving for a house?

...cell phone, internet (package), Amazon Fresh, Safeway and CVS delivery, streaming videos, Netflix, Hulu...amazing how it all adds up....

Monthly Prime membership and Fresh Add-on are billed separately. Amazon Prime is billed at a cost of $12.99 per month and the Fresh Add-on is billed at a cost of $14.99 per month; a total cost of $27.98 per month. Annual Prime members will be billed $119 a year and $14.99 per month for the Fresh Add-on.

Note: All orders under $50 will incur a $9.99 delivery fee.

barbniss

Eaadams - you've just made my point. If I'm not driving to get to Whole Foods or Safeway, someone is driving to get to me. Trying reading and responding instead of trolling.please.

Lisa

Frustrations were voiced last Tuesday night by our Planning Commission Chair, Diane Whitaker, as she reviewed this project with her fellow commissioners. While it seem relatively benign, its site will be smack in the middle of ground zero for impacted traffic, with the proposed 900+ units at Concar/Delaware, and the adjacent but not-yet-filled commercial and residential developments which just went in.

Diane's words regarding the project illustrate a huge problem facing us and every city in our State, "...a large majority (of residents) had legitimate concerns which, I have to be honest, I share those concerns. I'm increasingly frustrated by the rules that are being imposed upon us, top-down, from the state. They are restricting us and tying our hands as a local commission to make decisions that are appropriate for our community. And in the state's ideal world, all cities might end up looking the same."

Diane was referring to the fact that now, if a project is within our General Plan parameters, it can not be denied. Part of this is due to the Housing Accountability Act, which Diane states is "restricting us even further on the ability to deny a project we feel is not appropriate for our community."

This is, in short, a removal of local powers. That should worry residents, whether they are pro-growth, anti-growth, smart-growth or somewhere in between.

The punishment? Lawsuits against the city.
What to do? Charter Cities like San Mateo are in the best position to fight state mandates that usurp city and county control of their own affairs. I emailed the Planning Commission, thanking them for serving during this challenging time, and suggested the following:

"At some point, we need to take back our power - and perhaps find out from residents if they would prefer their tax dollars pay for all the infrastructure to support immense growth they may not want, OR to defend their city's own local control. My vote is for the latter."

P.S. The continued reliance on the Hayward station is non-sensical since train stops there have been reduced.

JordanG

While I like and respect Chair Whitaker, I completely disagree with her comments.

Only one speaker at the meeting on Tuesday night opposed the project. The vast majority were in favor, myself included.

Further, if our local jurisdictions want to maintain control over housing processes, they need to build responsibly. Over the past three decades, we have built only ~5,500 units of housing; in that same timeframe, we have added tens of thousands of jobs and residents to our City. We have long since abandoned any notion of responsible building. Thus, the State is stepping in, as well they should. Residents who are concerned about keeping local control intact should advocate for these developments as strongly as possible.

PS: As a lifelong 19th Avenue Park resident who frequently uses Caltrain, I find the Hayward Park Station is to be more than adequate, especially with the recent LimeBike installation.

Thomas Morgan

First the City does not build housing. I will give you the redevelopment properties at 5th and Claremont, but the City is hiring a builder to do the work for these .

Second the City is not solely to blame the state mandates RHNA allocation of 3100 for 2015-2023, of which just under 60% are supposed to be affordable. Meanwhile just under 90% of the above market rate housing for an eight year period has been produced in three years. Developer stated state only gives them density bonus for 6 units. So it is inconsistent demands from Sacramento that largely is the problem.

Third Federal Loans for affordable housing favor very low income units not all three levels of affordability.

Fourth, Alameda, SF Peninsula and San Jose all have different measurements for poverty levels. There is not a significant difference in rents within the region should move to a single measurement. This could allow more affordable housing in Alameda and Santa Clara counties where the thresholds are lower, despite Santa Clara county having a slightly higher median income.

vincent wei

Where does the assumption come from that all of these market rate developments are going to lead commuters, who couldn't afford them before, to thereupon be able to buy market rate units in the City of San Mateo?

And on top of that, there is this continuous, unsubstantiated narrative, with no data to back it up, that these same commuters will all at once now use Caltrain?

This kind of magical thinking reminds me of fables like the "The Emperor's New Clothes"...

Eaadams

@Vincent let me substantiate the narrative for you. If you google "San mateo annual tma report" you will get the data to back up that shows how the people who live in these developments around the San Mateo Rail Corridor use Caltrain & result in improvements to congestion.

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