San Mateo’s development dilemma 

The five projects that could bring nearly 2,000 homes along a half-mile stretch of Delaware Street are causing concern for some San Mateo residents because they say the potential increase in traffic, congestion and noise is not being addressed properly.

Pamela Mallett, spokeswoman for the Delaware Street Coalition, said the group’s main concern is over the lack of a comprehensive plan for all projects and their effects to existing neighborhoods.

“They are looking at them individually,” she said of the official review. “It needs to be looked at as a whole of how all of these projects will impact each individual neighborhood.”

Ron Munekawa, chief planner for San Mateo, said city officials understand the concerns of the coalition and that the city is looking at all properties instead of individual projects.

“We’ve had some study sessions describing traffic studies in general,” he said. “And another to look at the cumulative impacts.”

The Delaware Street Coalition is made up of the Sunnyvale, Fiesta Gardens and 19th Avenue Park neighborhoods. The coalition was created in hopes of bringing together a united group to guide each project in the proposed area.

Mallett said the coalition is not against development, but would rather see it done right.

“We understand construction needs to happen,” she said. “We just don’t want them to forget about us, too. We chose to live here. We pay our taxes. We just want to know the effect it’s going to have on us.”

Currently, Delaware Street is a mix of retail, single-family homes and elementary schools, Mallett said. But motorists trying to get around morning traffic on U.S. Highway 101 also use the thoroughfare. The additional houses and office space, if not properly reviewed, would cause greater congestion.

“On a Monday or a Tuesday morning, you just can’t get down 101 or [state Highway] 92,” she said. “So people get off around Third Avenue and wind up going through neighborhoods. It’s dangerous.”

Five main projects are proposed that will front on Delaware Street; only one has been approved so far. Another project could bring additional homes and retail space to the area in the Rite Aid shopping center, at the intersection of South Delaware Street and Concar Drive.

Phase 2 of Bay Meadows, which includes 88 condos and 256 townhomes, is also approved. Bay Meadows is a 1,171-home development roughly a half-mile south of Rite Aid, and will ultimately affect these neighborhoods as well.

Munekawa said there is no application at the Planning Department to develop the Rite Aid area, but the property has potential for development.

Delaware Place, located at 2090 S. Delaware St., is the only project currently approved by the planning commission. All others are in various stages of review, Munekawa said.

Delaware Place will add 111 multifamily units to a 2.37-acre parcel. Buildings on the parcel will range from two to four stories, according to city documents.

Another development, the Hines project, would add 276,467 square feet of office space with 139,573 square feet of underground parking at 1830 Delaware St.

Farther north, a 599-unit development is still in the design stage. The Planning Commission has not approved it, nor has a formal application been submitted. That project, known as Station Park Green, is located at 1700 S. Delaware St., where Kmart currently sits.

The premise of Station Park Green, according to developers EBL&S Development, is to create a transit-oriented community. In addition to the homes, 60,000 square feet of retail space is proposed and the developer has said he would like to encourage residents to ride Caltrain by potentially offering discounted rates.

All five projects are located near the Hayward Park Caltrain station.

The fifth project is located at 2000 S. Delaware St. — the site of a former police station on which San Mateo has advertised for affordable housing.

According to Darcy Forsell, associate planner with San Mateo, the lot will have roughly 54 affordable-housing units and 60 market-price units.

Mallett said projects would not only affect Delaware Street, but all of San Mateo, which is why coordination is vital.

“There are so many impacts to individual neighborhoods,” she said. “There isn’t one document that looks at all the impacts of all the developments on one existing residential neighborhood.”

City hopes transit-oriented housing will reduce traffic

San Mateo officials are encouraging and supporting high-density development that is close to transit centers, according to the Rail Corridor Plan.

Ron Munekawa, chief planner for the city, said projects that are near or easily accessible to transit and create the least effect on existing streets are encouraged.

“The No. 1 reason we did the corridor plan was to analyze the impacts each development through the corridor would have on local streets,” he previously told The Examiner.

The Rail Corridor Plan, approved in 2005, reviewed traffic patterns in and around neighborhoods near the Caltrain tracks.

According to the city’s rail-oriented transit plan, higher-value developments and reduced street congestion will come from transit-oriented projects.

The document is helping steer development today.

Currently, five projects along South Delaware Street are under review to determine traffic impacts and how they relate to the findings in the Rail Corridor Plan. By building closer to public transit, officials hope cars will be traded for rail transportation.

Four of the five projects along Delaware are under review, Munekawa said. Plans for the fifth have not yet been submitted. Officials are studying the effects each project will have on current traffic conditions. The review is to ensure these projects have not drastically changed.

“We have all the applications now,” he said. “We’ll know where driveways are and have better understanding of the actual impacts.”

There will be a “negative declaration” — no additional environmental impact report required — if the traffic studies for each project show there is no additional increase or change to traffic effects in the project area. All five projects are near the Hayward Park Caltrain station.

— Andrea Koskey

Key points

Members of the Delaware Street Coalition are concerned about:

  • Traffic
  • Unaddressed impact on adjoining neighborhoods
  • Lack of a cumulative perspective on all projects
  • Need for a more comprehensive environmental report on all projects

Source: Delaware Street Coalition members

Living in San Mateo

Facts about the city and how to navigate it:

92,763 Population

36,566 Total households

37.5 Median age

$85,124 Median household income

23.4 minutes Total commute time to work

35,624 Trucks, cars and vans in the city

4,107 Public transit vehicles

2,000 Total homes to be added to Delaware Street

Sources: Bay Area Census 2006-2008 community surveys,


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