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Brisbane to debate fate of land that may host 4,400 new homes

Flap over city’s plans for 684 acre site led to annexation threats last year

Developer’s vision for the Baylands.

At a special meeting today, Brisbane’s city council will debate what to do with the Baylands, a 684-acre site just south of San Francisco that owner and developer Universal Paragon Corporation hopes to build into a 12-million-square foot mixed-use development with 4,400 new homes.

Today’s meeting agenda lays out several potential uses for the land (which used to contain a garbage dump and will have to be decontaminated ahead of any development), but foremost among them are the UPC pitch:

UPC has proposed a general plan amendment and specific plan for the Baylands that envisions a high-density mixed-use urban environment including a substantial residential component with urban open space/open area.

And in the other corner, the no-housing option:

The Community Prepared Plan scenarios envision a high-density urban employment, shopping, and hotel destination, with no residential use and more open space/open area than in the [UPC] scenarios. This vision [...] was defined in a series of community workshops.

An older rendering, which the developer says is not up to date with the latest designs.

The possibility of adding thousands of new jobs just south of San Francisco without any new permanent housing provoked several San Francisco lawmakers to threaten to annex the property and develop it ourselves last year, in one of the more surreal City Hall kerfuffles.

That flap blew over, but wrangling over what to build in the Baylands continues. In a press release, UPC General Manager Jonathan Scharfman complained this week:

“We are being bombarded by regional advocates encouraging us to build affordable housing. The state legislature is considering more than 140 separate bills to promote construction of new housing. Yet there is a big disconnect between what the state and the region want and what local government will allow developers to implement.”

But in October of last year Ray Miller, a city council member now retired, called the housing-free alternative a safety consideration.

“What none of the single-minded housing advocates have even mentioned is that most residents don’t believe it’s safe to have people living there,” Miller told the San Francisco Examiner, citing contamination concerns.

The city’s current general plan doesn’t allow Baylands housing for that very reason. Most present council members were not immediately available for comment. Councilmember Terry O’Connell declined to comment to Curbed SF.

Notably, the last official census in 2010 pegged Brisbane at just over 4,200 people. The proposed 4,400 new homes could more than triple the city’s present population.

According to UPC, the city council may “vote the project up or down or decide to send it to Brisbane voters by this summer.”