Several large proposed projects are looming large over the 19th Avenue Park neighborhood, a cluster of smaller, one-story Eichler homes where many residents fiercely defend their homes’ unique character — and privacy.
Residents on Eleanor Street, directly across Delaware Avenue from a proposed 600-unit project on the Kmart site, delivered a petition to the San Mateo Planning Commission this week protesting the possible impact of 35-foot-high town homes peering into their backyards. Eichler homes are designed, in most cases, with large glass walls in the back, so there is little differentiation between the interior and the exterior — and little privacy from neighbors.
"Those people’s backyardswould face the new project," resident Marshall Loring said. "They’re feeling a little intimidated by the numbers."
Visual impacts are not the neighbors’ only concerns. With a major project in the works at the Bay Meadows racetrack, new tenants at the former Siebel buildings and The Crossroads, the Kenmark office project at Concar Drive and South Delaware Street and proposed redevelopment at the Concar Center, some residents are predicting major traffic headaches.
EBL&S Development LLC has proposed high-density housing, neighborhood retail, office space and a large public park on the 12-acre site that houses Kmart, Michael’s and a Shell station at the corner of Concar Drive and South Delaware Street. The first Planning Commission study session took place Tuesday, where more than a dozen residents aired worries about the project.
"We’re concerned about three key things: density, design and traffic," resident Cheryl Hylton said. "These proposals have been going on for a while, and for the most part we are supportive — as long as we think it’s a good development."
Developers say they will do what they can to protect neighbors’ privacy and alleviate other concerns.
"We’ll even take them up in cherry pickers and let them see what it looks like from 35 feet," said Alan Talansky, vice president of EBL&S.
The firm will examine a number of ways to protect the 19th Avenue neighborhood, including trees or window placement designed to minimize sight lines, Talansky said.
"The 35-foot buildings will prevent the [55-foot-high] buildings farther back from seeing into the community," Talansky said.