Millbrae city council is reviewing a station area plan, environmental report, and two good-sized developments for the area near the Millbrae BART/Caltrain station. At a study session last night, residents crowded the Chetcuti room in Millbrae city hall, many with concerns about parking and car traffic.
The proposed developments would bring 400,000 square feet of office space, about 79,000 square feet of retail and more than 800 residential units on land currently occupied by a parking lot and some underutilized commercial buildings near El Camino Real. The mix of uses near a major and growing transit hub – with service from BART, Caltrain trains, SamTrans buses, and eventually High Speed Rail trains – might logically attract workers, residents, and visitors who prefer to come and go without driving.
However, in the plan and environmental report being reviewed, the offices and homes are expected to generate a 69% driving rate at peak commute hours, with 28% taking transit, and only 3% walking or bicycling. The plan has provisions for sensible parking policies, including the potential for unbundled parking, where tenants can pay for only the parking they need, paid parking, parking shared among uses that need the space at different hours. And the plan calls for “transportation demand management” with programs including discount transit passes, onsite car-sharing, vanpool and carpool services. With these services and such a transit-rich location, could the area generate less driving (and fewer traffic and parking worries?).
The rate of bicycling isn’t helped by the proposals for El Camino Real and Millbrae Avenue. The treatment for El Camino includes wide, 14 foot vehicle lanes, and “sharrow” marking enabling intrepid people with bicycles to to share the lanes with trucks (as can be seen in the diagram below.)
The deadline for comments on the Environmental Impact Report is August 10. There will be community meetings beforehand, on July 16 and 30th. For transit users and community members interested in commenting on the project, including opportunities to improve bike safety and sustainable transportation, Sierra Club will be hosting a workshop on Tuesday, July 21 – stay tuned for time and place.