Tonight: Millbrae seeks to reduce affordable housing at Caltrain/BART station

Last year, Millbrae approved a specific plan with a goal to evolve the area around the BART/Caltrain station into a mix of uses with homes, offices, and retail. Developers have stepped up to suggest places that fit into Millbrae’s goals, but multiple projects in the area are running into roadblocks.

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Today, the Millbrae Planning Commission will make a decision on whether recommend approval for the  Millbrae Gateway project, a mixed-use project on BART parking lots slated to include 400 units of housing. 80 of these are planned to be affordable units, targeted towards veterans, but also available for healthcare workers and other blue-collar members of our community.

This project has been in the works for nine years already, and has attracted a broad base of support, especially since Millbrae is far behind on its Regional Housing Needs Assessment goals. The city agreed to build 193 very low-income units and 101 low-income units by 2023, but has issued permits for only 5 total units in the last decade. Millbrae Gateway would mark a new era of commitment to making housing more affordable.

With Millbrae officials raising unlikely worst-case scenarios, however, the affordable units our area needs most of all are potentially on the chopping block. The City is balking at the prospect of fulfilling BART affordable housing goals of 20% rather than Millbrae’s own goal of 15%, despite the fact that the Gateway would be built on BART’s land. This transit-rich area near services is an excellent location for affordable housing, and a perfect starting point for the kind of transit-oriented, mixed-use development we need.

Our friends at Housing Leadership Council are urging support to keep all 80 units of affordable housing and at least a $5 million contribution on the part of the City.

If you live in or near Millbrae, come if you can! You can also send a note to Community Development Director Tonya Ward to share with Planning Commission, by clicking on the email link here.
Also, earlier this month, the Planning Commission reviewed another development in the plan area, Serra Station. This development would include three mixed-use buildings, two with ten stories and one with nine. Overall, Serra Station is planned to have 444 units of housing, 13,200 square feet of retail and 290,000 square feet of offices.

Despite the City’s stated goal of opening the Serra Station area to a landmark development, the Planning Commission did not agree to exempt Serra Station from height limits and sent the developers back to adjust their plans ahead of the upcoming Nov. 9 Planning Commission meeting. Stay tuned for next steps in how you can support the goal of turning the bleak area around the station into a lively place.