The San Mateo Planning Commission Tuesday will vote on a 225-unit affordable housing development that has been both praised and criticized.
Located on city-owned land at 480 E. Fourth Ave. and 400 E. Fifth Ave., the 100% affordable development proposal designed by nonprofit MidPen Housing is a seven-story building connected to a five-level parking garage by a pedestrian bridge.
Restricted by voter-approved building height and density limits, the original proposal was 164 units in a five-story building. But when Assembly Bill 1763, which allows for greater height and density near transit hubs regardless of local restrictions, took effect Jan. 1, the City Council directed MidPen to increase the size of the project, making San Mateo the first city in the state to leverage the new law.
Some neighbors feel the latest iteration of the project is too tall and, during a Planning Commission meeting in May, complained about shadow impacts. They also expressed concerns about the project’s design and what they described as meager open space.
Supporters, which include nearly all commissioners based on comments made during that meeting, welcomed the increased density, citing the housing crisis and the desperate need for residential units, particularly affordable ones.
The residential building includes 122 units reserved for extremely to low-income households earning between 30% and 60% of area median income while 101 units will be for households that earn greater than 60% area median income and at or less than 80% area median income.
A preference will be provided to households that live or work in the city and for public employees for 25% of the units.
The development includes 65 studio, 48 one-bedroom, 53 two-bedroom and 59 three-bedroom units.
The project site, which includes two parcels, is currently used as a surface parking lot. It is also home to the Worker’s Resource Center, which will be relocated off site to make way for the development. Both parcels are zoned Central Business District and are in the Downtown Plan area.
The project includes a publicly accessible plaza at the corner of Fourth and Railroad avenues. Residents will have access to amenities including a landscaped ground-floor courtyard, 288 bicycle stalls and dedicated bike storage room, a roof deck on the seventh floor, a space for after-school programs, fitness center and more than 21,000 square feet of common open space.
The adjacent parking garage includes 163 residential parking stalls and 532 public parking stalls to replace the existing 235 public parking spaces. There will be public art on the facade of the parking structure facing Fifth Avenue.
The project is a public-private partnership between the city and MidPen, with the city expecting to make a $7.5 million contribution in housing funds to support the low-income housing and $5 million of parking in-lieu funds for the construction of the parking spaces.
The remote meeting begins at 7 p.m. July 14. To watch, visit https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84022065111?pwd=NzI1VFIvS3U3aWZPUjZZSUp6ZnF1UT09#success. The meeting ID is 840 2206 5111.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 102