Air quality is dirtying talks about proposed San Mateo complex 

A proposed 197-unit apartment complex near state Highway 92 would expose residents to “substantial pollutant concentrations,” according to the city, though the developer said ventilation systems will reduce any potential impacts.

Air quality is one of several issues planners are considering for the Polo Court project, a four-story apartment building and 126,000-square-foot office complex that would replace two commercial buildings near San Mateo City Hall.

The public comment period ended this week for the city’s environmental review of the 4-acre project at 220 W. 20th Ave., and officials expect the review to be back for Planning Commission approval in April or May.

Released in February, the city’s environmental study noted that the project would create new residential units between 90 and 365 feet from the freeway. The California Air Resources Board recommends new homes be built at least 500 feet from major roads to reduce the effects of potentially unhealthy particulate matter.

Based on the board’s advisory guidelines, the complex “would expose project residents to substantial pollutant concentrations,” according to the city. But the review also noted that the exposure would be “no worse than at existing residential areas located near the project site” and that Highway 92 carries fewer diesel trucks than other freeways.

Miguel Vasquez, a vice president for developer Coastal Rim Properties, said the project will incorporate mechanical ventilation and air filters to remove particulate matter.

Vasquez said that although the company would like to build farther away from the highway, “really it’s a matter of the site constraints and what we’re able to do within there.”

Usher and Vasquez both pointed out that there are many existing homes built within the air board’s 500-foot recommended distance from freeways.

Aside from the air issue, homeowners at the neighboring Corte Bella condominium complex expressed concern in 2008 about traffic and visual impacts from Polo Court, but the developer has “made revisions they seem to find satisfactory,” Usher said.

Coastal Rim also addressed concerns about inadequate parking by adding a third floor to the underground parking facility, Usher said.

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Shaun Bishop

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