Millbrae updates rail development vision | Local News | smdailyjournal.com – San Mateo Daily Journal

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Cloudy. High 61F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph..
Mostly cloudy. Low 51F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph.
Updated: October 30, 2021 @ 11:10 am

The Millbrae train station looking south along California Drive, which officials are seeking to realign and reconstruct.
The area surrounding the BART and Caltrain station in Millbrae has changed dramatically in recent years, and more developments are on the way for the roughly 0.2-square-mile area envisioned as a “vibrant daytime and evening activity district” with new housing, hotels and office space.
To better guide development, the Millbrae City Council is seeking to replace several images in the extensive planning document used in part as a style guide for future construction. New images, the council hopes, will steer developers to provide favored design characteristics including enhanced pedestrian spaces, improved building aesthetics and bicycle infrastructure. 
“The images we use are leading developers to the type of projects they are giving us, so they really do have to be right,” Mayor Ann Schneider said. 
The planning document calls for up to 1.6 million square feet of office and research and development space, 180,000 square feet of retail space, 1,440 units of housing and 325 additional hotel rooms to be added to the area by 2035. Multiple projects are already underway. 
The train station at the heart of developments is the only one to include both BART and Caltrain connections, and is slated to be a future stop for the California high-speed rail project aiming to link San Francisco and Los Angeles. 
Previously, the area was mostly light industrial and commercial buildings and surface level parking lots. Plans for the transformation were originally introduced in 1998, and received a major update in 2016.
Though the council was presented with several replacement images chosen by city staff, councilmembers rejected the new images and elected instead to appoint councilmembers Anders Fung and Gina Papan to a subcommittee to identify suitable images.
The rejected images included larger building setbacks, sustainable landscaping, and building facade articulation — or varied surfaces to break up the size of buildings. More traditional architecture over modern designs were also emphasized.
Councilmembers largely did not take issue with the content of the images, but instead insisted they could better illustrate the city’s desires.
“We’re trying to emphasize how exciting this location is and that’s all we can do?” Papan said. “A lot of things could be better.”
The council did approve a tweak to the plan that will allow for developers wishing to build denser structures to pay a fee directly into the city’s affordable housing fund in exchange for project approval.
Under the city’s community benefit rule, it can elect to approve projects that would not ordinarily meet its criteria if they agree to provide a “community benefit.” Those benefits can range from affordable housing, additional pedestrian and bicyclist facilities, to cash contributions to the city for other benefits.
The city earlier this year created a special fund for subsidizing below-market-rate housing, but the plan had not allowed developers to pay into it.
Images the council subcommittee selects will be up for review at a later meeting, likely in coming weeks.
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Tafhdyd said:
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wlydecker said:
Any veterans organizations?
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