The stage will be set for a vote standing to transform Brisbane’s future, as city officials are offering the community a final opportunity to discuss a massive development along the Baylands before an election is likely called to decide the divisive plan.
The Brisbane City Council is set Thursday, July 12, to host the last public hearing gathering feedback on Universal Paragon Corporation’s plan to redevelop a former landfill into a slew of new homes and workspaces.
The controversial proposal will not set be settled at the upcoming meeting, as the discussion is designed to set up a decision at a subsequent meeting next week. In lieu of action, officials are providing community members their last chance to address the issue before an expected ballot initiative. Consensus was reached among officials previously that the fate of a such a substantial project should be decided by voters in a coming election.
The public discussion is the most recent in a long series of talks which have spanned nearly two years, as councilmembers, residents, developers and members of outside communities weigh the project designed to add millions of square feet of office and residential space to 684-acre area abutting the Bayshore.
The proposal slated to be discussed is different from previous iterations though, as development plans have been beefed up with an additional 2.5 million square feet of commercial space.
In all, the amended proposal is comprised of 6.5 million square feet of commercial space, 500,000 square feet for a hotel and between 1,800 and 2,200 residential units to be included in the northwestern corner of the development area.
Officials ramped up the amount of commercial space in the plans to increase the capacity for offsetting the financial strain borne from allowing a development aiming to nearly double Brisbane’s current size, according to a city report.
“The revenues associated with additional commercial development are seen as prudent in providing an additional fiscal buffer or hedge against the inevitable economic cycles that will occur over the life of any project built on the Baylands,” according to the report.
As it stands, there are currently 2,050 housing units and approximately 5.8 million square feet of commercial space, according to the report. As officials have eyed the proposal, much attention has been paid to the need to build a financially viable project.
The ratio of commercial space to residential units has served as a point of conflict between locals who expect the project to generate revenue for Brisbane and others who see the site as a vehicle for correcting the imbalance of local jobs and housing opportunities.
In previous discussions, many Brisbane residents have vigorously opposed the proposal to build any homes at the site, citing concerns that deeply contaminated soil makes the Baylands dangerous and unlivable.
Officials, meanwhile, have noted pressure to build new homes at the site. Most notably, they pointed to draft legislation crafted by local legislators intended to mandate residential development at the site.
While the legislation was not proposed during a previous legislative session in Sacramento, Brisbane officials have said they expect the proposal to return unless some residential construction is allowed.
Under such an impression, officials have warned voters who stand to hold the final say in the matter that approving a moderate amount of housing at the site may be their only chance at maintaining local control.
Should voters deny the development proposal, which will be defined in ballot measure language up for discussion at the meeting, officials have warned of the likelihood that state lawmakers will pass legislation deferring to the developer’s vision for the site.
In an effort to retain some authority through the process, officials drafted a proposal designed to facilitate amendments to the general plan, while also making way for creation of a specific plan at the site and development agreement for the project.
The policies potentially generated through the forthcoming documents address soil remediation, infrastructure construction, financial standards and construction mandates, among other requirements to be met by the developer.
As councilmembers examine opportunities presented through the general plan amendments, officials note that residential development could be mandated within a close distance to the other amenities to be built such as parks, schools or transit lines.
Also relating to housing, proposed changes to the city’s master planning document suggest that development densities be limited and only enhanced when the developer offers additional amenities.
Councilmembers maintain an ability to require sorts of housing development as well, according to the report which claims workforce units could prescribed through the forthcoming policy.
Ultimately, looking ahead to the meeting, officials will discuss “a number of new policies which are intended to respond to community concerns that have been raised through the Baylands review process to date and ensure that these concerns are addressed in any forthcoming specific plan and development agreement,” according to the report.
The Brisbane City Council meets 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 12, in Brisbane City Hall, 50 Park Place.