Proposed Millbrae Safeway faces another setback 

A proposed 59,000-square-foot Safeway remains on hold in Millbrae while city officials work to resolve traffic congestion and labor concerns.

Already delayed once after Councilor Gina Papan filed an appeal last month calling for greater efforts by Safeway to hire union labor, the project hit another roadblock last week when the City Council voted 4-1 to continue a hearing on the appeal.

Councilors requested a complete traffic study from Safeway, saying impacts on congested areas surrounding the supermarket were not addressed in the grocery chain’s latest report, City Clerk Angela Louis said.

Mayor Dan Quigg said the left turn from Safeway’s driveway onto Broadway is a problem. “We who live in Millbrae are concerned,” Quigg said. “It’s a very busy turn.”

The city’s Planning Commission unanimously approved Safeway’s plan in February.

The lone dissenting vote to approve the commission’s February decision belonged to Councilor Paul Seto.

“I thought they were doing a fine job,” Seto said, recalling the commission’s 4-0 vote to approve the project. “If we are going to empower them ... we should listen to them.”

Quigg said the City Council is trying to set a precedent that any project exceeding $5 million receive approval from the City Council and the Planning Commission.

Earlier this month, after Papan’s appeal, Millbrae officials sent a letter to Safeway urging the hiring of a local construction workforce to replace the existing store. The letter cited a 30 percent unemployment rate among those in the building and construction trade.

As of now, the replacement of the existing 37,000-square-foot facility is in limbo.

“Is the project on hold? Yes,” Safeway spokeswoman Susan Houghton said, adding that the supermarket chain is willing to address any further concerns from councilors. “We can’t move anything without the council’s approval.”

“Our goal is to hire the best-qualified contractor for that position,” Houghton said. “Our commitment is to make sure we receive bids from nonunion and union [contractors] to make the best decision possible.”

Talks of replacing the existing supermarket, which opened in April 1962, began in late 2009.

Shoppers' corner

Existing Safeway at 525 El Camino Real:
Size: 37,094 sq. ft.
Date opened: April 11, 1962

Proposed replacement store:
Size: 59,000 sq. ft.

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