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RE: [Valley_Eye] Brisbane/Bayland article

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  • Maryanne Razzo
    Interesting article that I forwarded to brsnet (Brisbane list serve). Having personally had experience through working on a recent controversial development
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 31, 2009
      Interesting article that I forwarded to brsnet (Brisbane list serve).  Having personally had experience through working on a recent controversial development project voting campaign in the town of Brisbane, I can say that UPC has its work cut out for it.  When this goes to a vote, as it will have to according to the General Plan for Brisbane, UPC will very likely come out at the losing end.  I might be wrong...but, probably not.

      From: Valley_Eye@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Valley_Eye@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of r_morine
      Sent: Monday, August 31, 2009 9:52 AM
      To: Valley_Eye@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [Valley_Eye] Brisbane/Bayland article

      Friday, August 28, 2009

      Baylands debate centers on housing, sustainability

      San Francisco Business Times - by Emily Fancher

      Spencer Brown
      Balancing act: Hanson says housing is needed to balance the new jobs.
      View Larger

      The city of Brisbane wants the proposed mixed-use project on the Baylands to take the 660-acre parcel from environmental basketcase to sustainable superstar.

      Universal Paragon Corp. is moving ahead with plans to build 8 million square feet on a contaminated former railyard and landfill that will be cleaned up.

      City officials and community members are pushing for an energy-neutral, LEED-certified, sustainable project that attracts cleantech as well as other businesses.

      The environmental impact report is on track after the City Council chose a community alternative this summer to be studied along with UPC's proposal.

      "That was a pretty important milestone," said John Swiecki, a principal planner for Brisbane, who's managing the Bayland's application.

      The community alternative chosen for study in the environmental report is roughly the same size as UPC's plan, though Swiecki warned the City Council may eventually ask for a smaller project.

      The current proposal calls for 2.5 million square feet of R&D, 1.5 million of office, 565,000 of arena, 385,000 of hotel, 287,000 of retail, 191,000 of theater, 120,000 of warehouse, 91,000 for a cinema, 64,000 of civic space as well as 1,000 units of housing. Higher buildings, probably in the eight to 12 story range, would be clustered on the north end of the site near the Caltrain station, and lower three- or four-story structures would be sited at the southern end, according to Steve Hanson, general manager of UPC.

      Swiecki said UPC is expected to respond in the fall to the city's request for modifications based on the community's input. After that, the EIR can start in earnest and is expected for release in spring of 2010.

      One big question is how realistic the city's environmental goals are. Officials are asking that the massive project be energy neutral, meaning it produce all the energy it needs, most likely through alternative methods such as wind and solar power generation.

      Hanson says UPC wants to build a green, sustainable project, but added that energy neutrality, LEED certification and recycled water use are all expensive, and obviously the project has to pencil or it won't get built.

      Hanson said UPC is also arguing that if the city's intent is to produce a sustainable, environmentally friendly project it needs to allow housing on the site so the project, expected to generate 10,000 to 15,000 jobs, doesn't exacerbate the Peninsula's already lopsided jobs-housing balance.

      "I'm not sure the number of 1,000 units is necessarily the number (of housing units we need). It may be more," he said.

      Some community members continue to battle the proposal for housing, arguing that the site is too contaminated. But Hanson said UPC is already developing the Schlage Lock site across the border in San Francisco, which he says has similar environmental problems.

      "We are able to clean up (Schlage Lock) to residential standards, so we certainly can make that argument for the Baylands. There are no hazardous materials on the Baylands relative to housing that can't be overcome," he said.

      Hanson also said that if housing isn't built on the site, the area might not qualify for federal and state transportation dollars that are available for sustainable projects, and that local officials hope to tap to improve the 101 highway interchange and Geneva Avenue extension near the site.

      In addition to housing as a contentious issue, the amount of open space continues to be debated. The city wants about 330 acres of open space, Hanson said, but UPC doesn't think that is feasible.

      Hanson said over the last year, the company "did a more comprehensive analysis of site conditions, which involves a better understanding of infrastructure costs of developing on a former railyard and land fill, including environmental issues and geotechnical issues."

      That analysis will help the city and UPC figure out what is financially feasible.

      But even if a project is approved by the City Council that is financially feasible, many think the Baylands will eventually go to the voters. Ultimately, the largest potential development on the Peninsula may be up to the 2,200 registered voters in this 3,600-person town.

      efancher@... / (415) 288-4949

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