The final environmental impact report for San Carlos' proposed Transit Village development is deficient and riddled with omissions about noise, parking and potential toxins, according to dozens of eastside residents who crowded a Planning Commission hearing last night.
The Planning Commission heard nearly four hours of staff reports and public comment but held off on discussing or voting on whether to recommend the City Council certify the FEIR. The commission will take up the issue again in two weeks.
The residents, many who wore red shirts in solidarity, questioned noise analyst Chris Shields' conclusions that the development would only create a small increase in sound and laughter broke out when he suggested the use of trees would only create a "psychological" barrier.
Planning Commission Chair Scot Marsters also jumped into the fray, telling Shields he needed to do more work because his conclusions didn't reach the level of scrutiny required by the process. The process, Marsters said, called for mitigation when a project has an adverse impact even if the results are below the threshold.
"When I look out, I see the adverse community response," Marsters said, motioning to the audience of opposition.
Residents questioned if tenants in the new luxury rental units will even be able to open their windows without being affected by noise. Shields said the developer will have to consider proper glass and wall structures to minimize sound along with an adequate air conditioning system.
The Planning Commission and then the City Council must accept the FEIR before either can evaluate the actual details of the proposed development. However, several residents and members of the Greater East San Carlos neighborhood association said the document is, in the words of resident Amy Chang, "simply inadequate."
Speakers said the consultants hired to conduct the environmental review fell short in calculating the addition of children to already overcrowded school, the amount of extra parking spaces to accommodate residents, safe sidewalks and crosswalks and the potential of toxic exposure.
Resident Sam Herzberg asked the Planning Commission to require air quality monitoring during the development because "we don't want to be breathing in that toxic mess."
The group is also quite concerned that the advent of high-speed rail may lead to eminent domain of Old County Road and their property to accommodate extra lanes. SamTrans, the agency that owns the land proposed for development into the Transit Village, has said that is unlikely and that any work from high-speed rail to Caltrain electrification, should be possible within the current confines.
As currently proposed by Foster City-based developer Legacy Partners, the transit village plan would convert a 10.53-acre strip of land within the existing Caltrain station and running parallel to the railroad corridor. Legacy's proposal envisions eight four-story buildings with 281 housing units among a mix of 407,298 square feet of residential, 23,797 square feet of office space and 14,326 square feet of retail space. The project would also include 667 parking spaces and a new SamTrans Transit Center on 4.29 acres.
Legacy may include 15 percent of the units as affordable or