Genentech to expand South San Francisco campus 

Genentech, the largest employer in South San Francisco, is getting even bigger.

The biotech company will extend some of the boundaries on its 785,000-square-foot property. In addition, the company will be testing a new six-month shuttle bus program to transport employees from parts of the campus east of U.S. Highway 101 to the city's downtown during lunch hours. The shuttle will start running in fall 2013.

Many of the proposed campus expansions, approved at the June 12 City Council meeting, are for buildings that are already occupied or soon to be occupied by Genentech, said Gerry Beaudin of the City Planning Office.

"They're either expanding the boundaries just a little bit, or they're filling in gaps in what Genentech already has as part of their master plan area," Beaudin said.

The proposal stipulates that as part of the expansion, the company will also construct bathrooms along the South City portion of the San Francisco Bay Trail.

Genentech, which employs 11,000 people full time and conducts research in neuroscience, oncology and infectious diseases, has been investing heavily in the South City area. The company has already spent $15 million on streetscape improvements and street lighting, $4 million on improvements to the Bay Trail and more than $7 million for the city's sewer line upgrades.

The company has also poured more than $50 million over the past five years into the company's shuttle program, which includes buses and vans that transport employees between their neighborhoods and the campus.

The program, intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, was implemented in 2006 and has already facilitated a reduction of 14 million pounds of greenhouse gases, the company says.

In 2007, South City adopted a 10-year master plan for Genentech, but the health care company Roche has since acquired Genentech. In that time another building has been constructed along Grandview Drive, and improvements were made along Forbes Boulevard.

As a result, Genentech proposed that some requirements from the 2007 plan be dropped, including a requirement to build a restaurant or cafeteria and public restrooms in its lower campus on Forbes Boulevard, and another to build a Genentech museum for the public, which the company no longer finds viable since it's been acquired by Roche.

Beaudin said that overall, South City is pleased with the role Genentech has taken in responsibly maintaining a large presence in the city.

"They've certainly been following the California Environmental Quality Act requirements," he said. "We're generally happy that Genentech is choosing to expand their campus here in South San Francisco."

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Emilie Mutert

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