Colma officials decry housing project by BART 

City leaders are opposing an affordable housing development on unincorporated land near the BART station they say would increase traffic congestion, cause a parking shortage and draw on city-financed police services.

The 155-unit complex has been approved by the county Planning Commission, proposed for 7880 El Camino Real (see map). Colma officials have appealed the decision to the San Mateo Board of Supervisors for reconsideration at their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday.

There are too few parking spaces, 192, for the development, Vice Mayor Larry Formalejo said.He worries that as funeral processions come and go from nearby Woodlawn Cemetery, El Camino will become overly congested.

Another concern of city officials is that the style of the building is too "modern." rather than fitting in with the city’s and a another nearby apartment complex’s Mediterranean flavor, Formalejo said.

The complex, which would have 123 units for families making $50,000 or less a year, would be the equivalent of about 11 percent of the small city itself, with its population of 1,280.

"When you have affordable housing, you have to consider what kind of people are going to be living there," Formalejo said.

Supervisor Adrienne Tissier, who represents the northern district of the county, said the development fits in with the county’s plan to develop high-density housing along El Camino Real, as well as near transit centers such as BART.

City officials and the developer, Bridge Housing, a nonprofit affordable housing group, plan to meet on Monday in a last ditch effort to work out their differences, Tissier said. who has been encouraging the two to talk.

One challenge for Bridge is constructing a complex that fits into the industrial location, adjacent to BART and next to a parking garage, said Ben Metcalf, project manager for Bridge.

Metcalf defended the project, saying Bridge has already modified it several times, including reducing the number of units from 170, adding pedestrian walkways, redesigning the roof and adding a 60-child day-care center.

Tissier call the development a "real plus" saying the county needs more affordable housing, especially near transit which will help discourage driving and increase highway traffic.

E-mail Edward Carpenter at

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