October 28th, 2022 – South San Francisco, CA by ESC Correspondent, Allie Saults
The picture to the right is an artist’s rendering of another new development approved and planned for 100 E. Grand Ave. at Sylvester Road, which includes two research and development buildings, eight- and 10-stories each, to be built in a design inspired by the DNA strands of a double helix. The development calls for a whopping 541,284 square feet of office, research and development space.
In cohesion with the city’s plan, the design firm, Zimmer Gunsul Frasca intends to develop Sylvester Road into a “pedestrian corridor,” connecting to the Caltrain Station, and a connecting tunnel to Grand Avenue. There are additional plans for an 8 story parking structure, as well as parking spaces. We should note that the ratio of “1.44 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of office space” is actually a decrease from the zoning requirements that currently stand at 2 parking space per 1,000 square feet.
Dubbed to be a gateway to the sprawling biotech developments across highway 101 from our historic downtown, the design for landscaping this monstrosity includes, seating areas, gardens, plants, paths and a water feature to drown out the noise from the highway. Who is going to enjoy these green spaces? Employees on their lunch breaks?
While all of this sounds wonderful, the continued approval by the city for such grand developments doesn’t seem to mention where all these new employees are going to live?
We are witnessing the building of high density, high end housing units, along with new multiple million dollar mansions popping up across town, many of which are occupied by those who receive company assistance in the form of supplemental housing benefits. This, while current residents scurry to build a backyard home for family members who cannot afford the ‘affordable units’ that have been approved, nor are there any provisions in place to give priority to those who are already residents of South City.
In response to these actions, we have to point to this letter to the editor voicing similar concerns.
“Due to the high demand for housing caused by the excessive/ successful job creation done by South San Francisco, many locals are concerned there is no priority list for those already living, or working, in South San Francisco, for these new developments which impact them directly with congestion, noise pollution.”
Current residents continue to complain about the reduction of the quality of life that brought them to call South City home; that small town feeling which is being eaten up by high density, traffic, general congestion, along with noise and light pollution and other problems larger Cities are forced to deal with including crime. To see the disconnect between City Hall and the residents one has to look no further then the controversy from the push back by neighbors over the proposed high density development slated for the PUC location. Residents en mass protested the planned residential 12-story development that borders the established neighborhood of Sunshine Gardens, and were reassured, by then Mayor Normandy, the project would move forward with 3-5-stories, as she instructed to the developers during the public meeting (CLICK HERE for the video). The following year, under the new administration, it appears the City has ignored the agreements previously made.
No matter where new employees would actually live, this development increases what our City is required to provide in housing per RHNA (Regional Housing Needs Allocation). As of this date, our housing needs reflect a deficit of over 4,500 housing ‘units’. At this point it feels as though we are trying to bail out a sinking boat without fixing the hole, it is not sustainable and it is unreasonable to think we will ever resolve the imbalance of business and housing needs by continuing to approve commercial developments. When do we decide our commercial development is complete, or needs to slow down? And who makes that decision?
All this said, this new development would benefit our City with ‘impact fees’ to include $1M allocated for public safety impact, $18.9M citywide transportation, $9.4M for commercial linkage, and $75K for our libraries. In addition, $817K is to be directed towards childcare yet it is unknown if this would include all children in South City, or only those of employees working at this location.
What are your thoughts on this new development? What are your suggestions on finding a balance between new business and residential housing? Do you think we are maxed out on what our City can provide? How do you see the quality of life in South San Francisco, has the extensive commercial building helped or has it hurt what is important to you in your daily life?
Let us know in the comment section below.