The San Bruno Caltrain Station Area, as envisioned by the city’s Transit Corridors Plan with future retail and office development. Planners say the plan depends on the passage of Measure N. Image: Yes for San Bruno – Supporting Measure N
Last week, just two weeks before San Bruno voters choose whether or not to approve the Measure N ballot measure, city officials finally cleared the last legal hurdle for the measure, which would modify building height limits that voters set in 1977 with Ordinance 1284. That ordinance required a “town-hall type of hearing whereby experts, proponents, and opponents may be heard and questioned by voters,” so last Tuesday, a debate was held between San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane and Peninsula Health Care District Board of Directors candidate Doug Radtke.
Ordinance 1284 limits all new building heights in San Bruno to 50 feet or three stories, caps residential zoning densities to those set forty years ago, and bans multi-story parking structures — unless a specific development project is approved by a majority of voters. If Measure N is approved, maximum building heights will increase to 90 feet (five stories) within one block of the new Caltrain station, to 70 feet along El Camino Real, to 65 feet along San Bruno and Huntington avenues, and to 55 feet along San Mateo Avenue. The measure would also repeal Ordinance 1284’s ban on multi-story parking structures, which will “help solve parking needs as the downtown becomes more vibrant and parking demand increases,” according to the city’s Measure N FAQ sheet.
Maximum building heights if Measure N is approved: 90 feet (yellow), 70 feet (blue), 65 feet (green), 55 feet (pink). Image: 2013 San Bruno Transit Corridors Plan
City planners say the higher building heights and residential densities specified in Measure N are critical to implement San Bruno’s Transit Corridors Plan, which aims to enable the development, over the next 20 years, of a higher-density residential and commercial area within walking distance of the city’s new Caltrain station. The station was reconstructed half a mile north of its isolated former location at Sylvan Avenue, opening in April as an elevated structure at the intersection of the city’s two main streets, San Mateo and San Bruno avenues.
“We expect full build-out to result in 4,000 additional jobs, 2,400 of which are a direct result of passing Measure N,” said Ruane, quoting a fiscal and economic impact report authored by consulting firm Economic & Planning Systems. “It would increase the population by 3,784 in the Transit Corridors Area, [with] Measure N accounting for 1,558.”