68 Units Proposed in Foster City
In San Mateo County, a planned city on a former landfill south of San Francisco may see 68 new homes in the midst of an office construction boom. Development firm Sares Regis Group of Northern California, LLC submitted an application to build 68 townhouses at the corner of East Hillsdale Boulevard and Triton Drive. 14 homes would be reserved at Below Market Rate rents for households earning 80-120% of Area Median Income, while the remaining 54 would be rented at market rate.
The project seeks to fulfill a ten year-old Master Plan for the area in a portion known as Phase C, with a zoning variance for more than the allowed 17 residential units, and is intended to provide housing close to transit and jobs as employment in San Mateo County continues to grow. The townhomes would include a shuttle service to the nearby CalTrain station, and is located a half-mile from offices of major employers including Visa, IBM, and Gilead.
This comes in the wake of major commercial real estate purchases by Gilead Sciences, a $19 billion pharmaceutical company with nearly 8,000 employees that primarily focuses on antiviral medication. Gilead paid $120 million for two adjacent sites at Foster City Boulevard totaling 12 acres. Zoned for 800,000 square feet of office space, the site would be an expansion of the pharma giant’s nearby campus, and would add thousands of jobs to the housing-scarce region.
Sares Regis’ new project is similar to a previous proposal in May of 2015 for 65-70 townhomes that was stonewalled by neighborhood opposition. City Council elicited feedback from the community in considering a zoning variance for the site, and the resulting backlash forced Sares Regis to wait for the next election cycle before restarting the entitlement process. The developer is optimistic that building new housing close to office space will reduce demand for cars and ease traffic congestion.
Despite these assurances, the local community’s concerns mostly focused on traffic congestion, as well as the potential strain on public schools. One resident wrote to City Council: “Perhaps I am selfish — I love our city and do not want it to become an overcrowded area like Redwood City…I do NOT want any more schools — build UP I say.”
“Have you tried to enter Foster City during the evening commute hours?” one resident demanded of the council. “Frustrating, exhausting, both mentally and from the gas fumes.”
Conversely, other residents complained that Foster City was already an undesirable place to live in due to its rental housing density: “Foster City is already a city with too many low income housing, too many rentals, [so] please stop making Foster City the capital of low income housing in [the] mid-Peninsula,” one resident pleaded. Another wrote, more bluntly: “As is well known, Foster City is already overcrowded so no more housing.”
Sares Regis will be returning to Foster City Council for a preliminary review on August 1.