San Francisco

Silicon Valley Executives Urge Brisbane to Move Forward on Housing Development at the Baylands Site

Executives from nearly three dozen leading Silicon Valley companies on Tuesday asked Brisbane officials to help tackle the Bay Area's critical housing shortage by approving the hotly debated Baylands project, which aims to add 4,400 units to the region's housing inventory.

Home to just under 4,700 people, Brisbane has held tightly onto its small town charm, despite years of housing and annexation suggestions by city leaders and developers.

Now, several of the region's job makers, including Salesforce and Yelp, are speaking up, in a story first reported by the San Francisco Business Times.

"The Bay Area added more than 530,000 jobs in the past five years but built just 94,000 housing units," the letter stated. "We believe the Baylands is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to move the needle on San Mateo County’s job-housing imbalance."

The letter comes after a delay in a now year-long review of Universal Paragon Corporation's proposal to develop Brisbane's former rail yard and sanitary landfill.

The developer has proposed a mixed-use development, which would also add 7 million square feet of office space in addition to the housing units, while the community plan proposes adding hotel units and additional commercial space in place of housing units.

Pressure to add housing from outside groups, including county and state officials, is mounting. Several of California's lawmakers voiced concern about the community's alternative plan Monday, because it would bring 15,500 additional jobs to the area without anywhere to house the workers. 

One of the residents speaking in favor of housing at a special council meeting was former Brisbane Mayor Michael Barnes. He said the decision to remove housing came from the council, not the community.

"...The citizen's preferred alternative, a Baylands plan developed by the people of Brisbane included housing, but the city council stripped it out of their proposal," Barnes said. 

While the majority of the community was opposed to the developer's plans in a community survey, more than have of respondents said they were open to some housing being built on the Baylands site.

Barnes urged the council to consider the wider context of the housing shortage in their final deliberations.

"The fact that we have 120 legislators in Sacremento and 130 housing bills in Sacremento shows that everyone in California thinks housing is a problem and that we should build some housing here," Barnes said. "Please consider some housing at the Baylands. Negotiate with your state legislators." 

However, the majority of Brisbane residents present were vocal in their opposition to the project.

"All of these moral arguments about how Brisbane owes the rest of the region and the state to fix the problems that everyone else created are hollow arguments." said Brisbane resident Tony Verreos. "A lot of emotion, not a lot of logic there."

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

To learn more about the proposed redevelopment, click here.

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