Nearly five years after San Carlos started studying the potential environmental impacts of a proposed mixed-use development around the Caltrain station on El Camino Real, the city council voted 3-2 Monday night to move the project along to the next phase.
Council Member Ron Collins, who voted to certify the environmental impact report for the San Carlos Transit Village Project, acknowledged the document isn't perfect but said it "met all the requirements." Changes could be made when the project itself goes to the council, he said. Vice Mayor Bob Grassilli and Council Member Karen Clapper also voted to certify the report.
"It moves us along," Collins said.
Mayor Matt Grocott and Council Member Mark Olbert were the dissenters.
"Certain analysis are not done or not done to adequate levels. That concerns me," Olbert said. "I am concerned about the impact to the character of the community. ... I believe that for better or worse ... it's going to set a standard for what you're going to see on both sides of El Camino."
Grocott said his biggest issue is the amount of traffic that would be added to the city's main corridors, including Holly Street. The city already is considering a second major development of 108 housing units at nearby Wheeler Plaza, he noted.
"You introduce 400 new housing units ... you will have a significant impact on traffic," Grocott said.
Last year, the planning commission met four times before
Tuesday's was the council's third meeting on the environmental report. About 60 residents from east San Carlos were in attendance in the packed council chambers, most of them wearing red shirts.
The Transit Village would feature eight buildings of up to four stories on the 10.5-acre strip between El Camino Real and the Caltrain tracks, from Northwood Drive to Arroyo Avenue. It would include 280 market-rate apartments, offices, shops and restaurants.
Work on the environmental report began in February 2008; throughout the process, the city's eastern residents have vigorously protested the project over concerns about traffic, parking and noise. They also have complained that the density and height of buildings would cut them off from the rest of the city and block their views of the western hills.
City staff told the council that the approval process for the project would begin this spring.
After the meeting, long-term resident Uldis Zebergs said he felt the council had punted hard decisions on the project. "I don't understand, if they want so many changes, why didn't they cover that now?"