Dear Planning Commission,
I am writing this afternoon out of concern that approving the construction of the Bay Meadows project as it is currently conceived will have a detrimental long-term impact on affordable housing in San Mateo. While well considered and beautiful in conception, the fact of the matter remains that adding nearly 500,000 sq. ft. of new development to this city, of which less than 15% is residential, will exacerbate the jobs/housing imbalance. 67 units is not enough compensation for the number of new jobs created.
A more balanced approach is being pursued at Concar Passage. In this development there are nearly 1000 units on offer, and only 40K sq. ft. of office and retail. If this ration was applied to the amount of commercial space Wilson Meany is proposing, it would mean adding over 10,000 new units of housing.
There is a development in Montreal called LaCité. It is a tall apartment building above retail and supermarket, all on top of a subway stop. The residential units spur sales at the shops and make the area more vital at all hours. No one living there needs a vehicle. Anyone who recalls the dismalness of downtown Redwood City after the close of business before efforts were made to revitalize the city center should understand why all commercial can ultimately fail to bring the best results. These are some of the multifaceted design ideas which are required to make San Mateo a dynamic, walkable city as opposed to a crawl of cars trying to get from one parking lot to another.
It is not only our responsibility to our city which requires we pause before building. The housing crisis in the Bay Area has been fueled by one city after another approving more office and retail than housing to support those industries. Without more affordable units locally we will continue to a have a situation where a friend’s nanny drives in from Gilroy, my son’s pediatrician’s receptionist commutes from Fairfax, and it is not rare to meet a waiter in for the night from Vallejo. These are the unsustainable consequences of perpetuating the housing/jobs imbalance, and should be addressed in conjunction with the present proposal.