San Bruno officials opened examinations of the San Mateo Union High School District’s interest in building housing at the former Crestmoor High School campus, which is fueling concerns among some neighbors.
The San Bruno Planning Commission voted 3-1, with Chair Linda Mason dissenting, to approve that the district’s potential interest in developing new homes at the 40-acre campus conforms with the city’s general plan.
The approval is the first in a long series of public meetings surrounding the district’s opportunity to sell or lease the property, which may eventually give way to residential development of the former comprehensive school which closed in 1980.
Vice Chair Sophie Lagace characterized the decision as a means of starting the public planning process for a proposal which she expects will take greater shape over the coming months and years.
“It almost feels like a marker, now you can start the next steps,” said Lagace, according to video of the meeting.
The commission’s decision was narrowly focused to whether the opportunity to build new homes at the site was allowed under the city’s general plan. High school district officials recently declared the property as surplus, which triggered the discussion around potential alternative uses at the site. But the process is still in the formative stages and project specifics are yet to be determined.
High school officials have discussed selling or leasing the site to allow residential development, as a means of financing housing for teachers struggling to afford the cost of living locally. District officials are also exploring the idea of teacher housing at Mills High School in Millbrae.
While a majority of the commission was comfortable with allowing the process to move ahead, Mason said she felt the proposal was too vague for her support.
“I don’t feel comfortable voting on this,” said Mason, who asked for greater details regarding potential development specifics which are not yet available.
Mason was not the only one who harbored concerns over the project, as several neighbors also raised fears that eventual development at the site would harm their quality of life.
“We would like our neighborhood preserved,” said Sheila Lawler, who suggested development would invite an influx of traffic and safety concerns to the surrounding neighborhood.
Noelle Ottoboni also expressed reservations development would infringe on her home’s privacy, block views of the Bay for longtime residents and that construction may lead to loss of the tree grove nearby which is valued by the community.
Other residents also advocated for preservation of the sports fields on the campus which are open to the community and maintained by the city.
Not all neighbors opposed the proposal though, as some suggested they would be comfortable with a portion of the site getting developed while others felt the additional housing for teachers would be an appreciated community asset.
Currently the site is occupied by Peninsula Alternative High School, but education officials are in the process of moving the school closer to the homes of most students. Once the land is vacant, officials are considering residential development at the site, which is zoned for a capacity of 8 units per acre, though city officials have said any potential project would not be so expansive. Housing construction at the site must be single-family homes, as city officials are seeking to remain compatible with the surrounding neighborhood.
Noting the proposal is still in its formative stages, Commissioner Valentine Morgan said he was comfortable beginning the public process with knowledge any potential development will be examined much more thoroughly down the road.
“It will be viewed very stringently because there is so much concern,” he said.
Commissioners Rick Biasotti, Tom Hamilton and Mary Lou Johnson were absent from the meeting and did not vote on the issue.
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