YouTube office expansion

A rendering of the office building proposed to be built in San Bruno by YouTube during its first round of development.

San Bruno officials largely lauded the vision crafted by YouTube as the video streaming titan plans to redevelop and expand its corporate campus as well as portions of the surrounding shopping center.

The San Bruno City Council and Planning Commission met in a joint meeting Wednesday, July 31, to receive an update on the company’s proposal to build as much as 2.4 million square feet of office space.

The development, which includes an initial 440,000 square feet of commercial growth, stands to reconfigure the area in and around the Bayhill office and retail park near the intersection of Interstate 380, El Camino Real and San Bruno Avenue.

Councilwoman Laura Davis said she welcomed most of the elements detailed in a proposed specific plan for the area, which is in its environmental planning phase in advance of construction work which YouTube officials hope begins next year.

“I’m happy with the direction it is going,” said Davis.

Councilman Michael Salazar also acknowledged the momentum building behind the proposal, which is slated to return for more formal review and examination later this fall.

“By all accounts, things are moving forward,” he said, noting the most recent discussion was only a study session which featured no direction or decision from officials.

Officials with the video-sharing website owned by Google umbrella company Alphabet have expressed interest in redeveloping surface parking lots into office buildings, while constructing the parking into underground lots. The company currently maintains almost 1 million square feet of commercial space near Cherry Avenue. In all, plans include to build up to 2.4 million square feet of development in the area, including additional office space as well as potentially a hotel, some housing and perhaps a civic facility.

The first stage of construction imagines constructing 440,000 square feet of office space in two, three-story buildings connected by a second-story footbridge with subterranean parking below on a surface lot near Grundy Lane.

The total growth, which is expected to take more than one decade to complete, requires approval of a specific plan for the Bayhill Shopping Center which includes YouTube properties as well as other retail outlets and restaurants.

Along with the call for office development, the specific plan allows for development of roughly 1,000 additional housing units on property owned by YouTube and above the shopping center.

For her part, Davis said she favored housing development — so long as infrastructure upgrades are considered concurrently to accommodate the additional residents expected to live in the nearby units.

“I like the idea of providing some housing,” she said, noting development in the area would sync well with the amenities provided in the adjacent shopping center.

Beyond the retail and commercial services in the shopping center though, Davis said it is imperative the plan provide paths for bikers and pedestrians to promote reliance on alternative modes of transportation.

She said improved bike lanes and walking paths would go far to serve residents of the new units, as well as encourage workers in the new office space to avoid commuting in their car and instead take the train or ride their bike.

As it stands, she said YouTube does a fantastic job of encouraging more employees to take the company shuttle to work, and hopes that program grows in popularity along with alternative modes of transportation to alleviate the threat of additional traffic congestion.

Davis also said she would like to see that shuttle service grow as part of an effort to channel workers from the YouTube campus to downtown San Bruno where they can patronize local businesses. She further suggested an incentive program could be useful in rewarding local commerce, similar to one established in South San Francisco’s biotech industry.

For his part, Salazar too supported the vision for building more housing and noted such an endeavor would help offset the increased demand to live in San Bruno brought by the proposed commercial growth.

“I think that would be a win-win across the board,” he said.

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