San Francisco

Brisbane Postpones Vote on Housing at Baylands Development

It is poised to be one of the biggest redevelopment projects on the West Coast


  • The Brisbane City Council is expected to continue final deliberations on housing development at the Baylands site throughout the month after deferring an official vote Monday evening. 
  • Several California state lawmakers voiced support of the proposed 4,400-unit housing project as well as commercial spaces on the site, but most residents speaking Monday were opposed. The community's proposed plan adds hotel units and additional commercial space in place of housing units. Both projects are expected to bring roughly 16,000 jobs to the area.

The tight-knit community of Brisbane has held onto its small town charm, despite years of housing and annexation suggestions by city leaders and developers.

However, an attractive offer by Universal Paragon Corp. to convert the city's former rail yard and sanitary landfill into more than 4,000 houses and 7 million square feet of office space is causing concern among some residents

The developer says the project — poised to be one of the largest redevelopment projects on the West Coast — will serve as an example for other housing-strapped regions on how to effectively convert similar untapped, urban spaces into more housing units.

However, residents argue that the developer's plan, which would about triple the population, will change the fabric of their small-town community for good.

With a population of just under 4,700, Brisbane has stayed small intentionally and, despite the sorely-needed housing units, city leaders estimate that they have significantly more to gain by converting the space into retail and hotel units.

Research conducted by Keyser Marston Associates on behalf of the city found that building all of the housing units proposed by the developer would bring in between $9 million and $10 million annually, more than half of the city’s current revenues, but would also require necessary upgrades and expansion of existing city services to accommodate the new residents.

By contrast, using the same space for additional hotel units would generate between $16 million and $18 million in city revenue and a larger overall surplus to the city of Brisbane.

Now, the Brisbane Baylands review process, which has involved public hearings, as well as environmental and fiscal impact reports to determine the safety of building on a former landfill, is about to end after nearly a year of consideration.

The Brisbane City Council is expected to vote this month on an official recommendation for a November ballot measure.

To learn more about the proposed redevelopment, click here.

Jean Elle and Stephen Ellison contributed to this report.

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