San Carlos may take its first major step toward developing an East Side Innovation District Vision Plan Monday, when the council is slated to decide on a nearly $500,000 contract with a consultant recommended by city staff to complete the work.

Parkins&Will, a Chicago-based design company with an office in San Francisco, was one of three candidates interviewed to complete the East Side District Vision Plan, a city effort to bring community engagement into growing development interests. The agency was selected due to the quality of the team proposed to conduct the work and its lauded reputation in the Bay Area. 

With 10 projects proposed for development in East San Carlos, mostly from life science companies, the City Council has felt an urgency to get ahead of construction. After considering three options for how to approach the growth, Vice Mayor Laura Parmer-Lohan and Councilwoman Sara McDowell, members of the City Council Economic Development Subcommittee, suggested the city prepare a vision plan rather than opting to complete a substantially more expensive Specific Plan.  

“The proposed plans for the east side are on a scale that require extensive input and partnership and it’s important these projects enhance our community and impacts are minimized,” said Parmer-Lohan, noting her interest in hearing from other councilmembers. 

In late September, the council agreed to pursue the vision plan, aiming to holistically review and guide development in the east side before too many projects were approved. Currently, two developments are underway, a 528,520-square-foot biotech campus by Alexandria Real Estate Equities and a 26,561-square-foot biotech building by MBC Biolabs. One additional proposal for the area has been approved while three projects are under review and four others in the conceptual stage. 

“I’m looking forward to getting the process underway, and reviewing the proposed scope of work on Monday night is an important next step to ensure it fully encompasses what we expect to accomplish over the next nine months,” said McDowell in an email statement. 

During the September meeting, Community Development Director Al Savay said only two projects would be affected by halting the review process until the city and consultants complete the vision plan. During the council’s last meeting Nov. 9, members also agreed to discuss formally naming the district. 

In other business, the council will also be asked to approve the continuation of the Laurel Street Policing Program, which places a sheriff’s deputy along Laurel Street to monitor traffic concerns. The roughly $150,000 program was first approved in August of 2019 because of concerns for speeding and driving under the influence but, during the pandemic, deputies largely shifted to performing business checks and educating the public on the county’s health order. 

Included in the measure would be the purchase of an up to $25,000 cloud-based interview management system which captures and stores law enforcement interviews. The system, to be owned by the city but operated by the Sheriff’s Office, would allow deputies to quickly share and access interviews remotely. The funds for both programs would be pulled from the city’s trust fund held by the Sheriff’s Office with a balance of $622,294.  

The City Council will meet remotely via Zoom at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23, and will be streamed live at and on Comcast Channel 27 and AT&T U-verse Channel 99. Remote public comments will be received by telephone during the meeting, prior to the close of public comment on an item. *67 (669) 900-6833, Meeting ID: 836 0775 9364.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 106

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