Parking may derail San Bruno Treetops project 

The Treetops Apartments site, slated for redevelopment for more than a year, has suffered a cost-related setback expected to stall progress on the once-controversial project.

The site at 4300 Susan Drive, which contains a now-empty, 22-year-old, 308-unit apartment complex, has been fenced off for approximately a year since the City Council approved its redevelopment into 510 new apartments.

The city and the developer were eager to come to an agreement last year on the project that, at one time, riled nearby residents who feared it would cause parking and traffic problems. Since then, however, developer OP Property Management has found that its original, modern design with subterranean parking will be too expensive to construct, Community Development Director Aaron Aknin said.

Aknin expects the developer, who could not be reached for comment, to return with a new design — which will likely be more traditional, with surface parking wrapped around the project — sometime next month. The number of proposed units and parking spaces is the same, Aknin said.

Council members sent the company back to the drawing board in January 2006, saying they and several Summit Drive residents were unhappy with some of the plans.

San Bruno requires an average of 2.1 parking spaces per housing unit for multifamily developments. Residents were up in arms when the developer proposed more than 100 parking spaces less than the requirement. The approved plans called for more than 1,100 parking spaces, slightly more than the required amount. Unpopular plans for 10 townhouses along Elston and Highland Drives were also nixed.

Sandwiched between Treetops and Evergreen Ridge Apartments, Summit Drive often sees spillover traffic and parking from the two complexes. Some, including Summit Drive resident Julie Rossovich, feared at the time that it would get worse if there was not adequate parking within the development.

Councilman Rico Medina said that, as with any project, he was anxious to see the development built sooner rather than later. To ward against future project delays, the council passed stricter expiration dates for building permits and projects.

"It doesn’t matter if it’s a major project, or just a single home renovation," Medina said. "We like to see projects getting off the ground and getting completed."

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