Quarry conversion sparks debate: Critics complain housing plan lacks transit hub

Publisher: San Francisco Examiner
Reporter: Christine Lias

BRISBANE -- The Brisbane City Council will hold the first of what could become many public hearings tonight to discuss converting a quarry into more than 180 residential units and more than 100 acres of open space.

A group of environmentalists called San Bruno Mountain Watch are against it. The Loma Prieta chapter of the Sierra Club is voicing concerns as well.

At issue are plans years in the making to convert land now occupied by the California Rock and Asphalt Inc. and build 129 single-family homes and 54 condominiums, 28 of which will be sold as affordable housing to low-income residents.

The "One Quarry Road Residential Project" would entail the discontinuation of quarry operations and reclamation of land. Along with the housing, it calls for a soccer field, new trail, habitat restoration and a gift of $7.2 million to the city for "community benefits."

"We support the city looking at in-fill development, but it has to be done in the right place," said Melissa Hippard, director of the local Loma Prieta chapter of the Sierra Club. Hippard said she has concerns with the number of residents--and the number of vehicles--such a development would bring to Brisbane.

"You would put a dense population of residents reliant upon their car" without a transit-oriented hub such as a Caltrain station or BART stop, Hippard said.

The grass-roots San Bruno Mountain Watch, which has been vocal in its opposition, has posted a simple message on its Web site. "Massive building in the heart of the mountain? No way! Save it for something much, much better. Let it heal."

The project first surfaced in spring 2001 with a draft environmental impact review and subsequent response, comments and finalization. The Brisbane Planning Commission, after months of discussion, unanimously approved the plans January 27.

The site is currently part of unincorporated San Mateo County and would require annexation and approval by the Local Agency Formation Commission.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Brisbane Community Center, 250 Visitacion Ave.

It will be broadcast live on cable Channel 27.