TIME TO SAY HELLO.
There is a lot of information out there about the Baylands project, and we want to make sure you have all the facts. Please reach out to us with any additional questions and we’ll get back to you with an answer right away.
Nestled halfway between SFO airport and downtown San Francisco, the 684-acre Baylands site in Brisbane, CA is a once-in-a century opportunity for the region. Once home to railyards and the primary sanitary landfill for San Francisco, Baylands has a strong industrial history and played an integral role in connecting the Peninsula to San Francisco. After 100 years of industrial use and neglect, the site is once again poised to connect our region and become a world class demonstration of site regeneration, transit-oriented development and sustainable design.
From 1932 to 1967, the portion of the site east of the current rail grade operated as the San Francisco Municipal Landfill, and to the area west operated as a rail yard that began at the turn of the 20th century. In 1989, Universal Paragon Corporation (UPC) affiliates purchased the site and began the development planning process.
UPC, the property owner of the Baylands, underwent various concept plans for the site before submitting the 2006 Specific Plan for the Brisbane Baylands, later designated the Developer-Sponsored Plan (DSP). The Specific Plan was updated significantly in 2011. Contemporaneously, the City of Brisbane began developing an alternative plan in 2009 with input from residents, designated the Community Proposed Plan (CPP). All plans call for environmental remediation of the brownfield land from its use as a rail yard and landfill. Most notably, the CPP does not propose residential.
The DSP calls for the development of a mixed-use community including 4,434 housing units, 7 million square feet of commercial, transit/roadway improvements, 25-acre solar farm and nearly 200 acres of open space. Housing would be limited to the land previously used as the rail yard. The GPA includes the following description and language in the ballot measure.
Shall the Brisbane’s General Plan be amended to permit within the Baylands a range of 1800 to 2200 residences north of an extension of Main Street, and up to 7 million square feet of new commercial development, subject to these restrictions to protect Brisbane: land for housing must be certified safe for ground-level residential use; landfill must be permanently, safely capped; and development must abide by Brisbane’s Sustainability Framework principles and produce net positive City revenues?
A noticeable difference between the two is the significant reduction of planned housing units, from 4,434 units to a maximum of 2,200 homes – approximately half what the Developer proposed. The GPA was approved by the Brisbane Voters in November 2018.
Every county and city in California is required by state law to have a General Plan, and the plan is required to be up to date. The General Plan discusses the city’s goals, policies, and implementation actions regarding future development.
The present Brisbane 1994 General Plan does not permit residential development on the Baylands site. Therefore, the City’s General Plan needs to be amended in order for residential development to be considered on the site. More typically, this change can be made with simply a vote of the City Council. In this case, due to significant size of the development in relation to the rest of Brisbane, the City Council, at their July 19 meeting, felt it appropriate to approve the Baylands General Plan Amendment subject to the approval of the GPA by a majority of the Brisbane voters.
An approval of the General Plan Amendment DOES NOT provide development approval but simply offers the developer guidelines under which approvals will be considered by the City in the future. The General Plan Amendment was approved by the Brisbane voters in November 2018. The developer is currently working with the City to prepare a Specific Plan and Development Agreement that abides by the GPA’s requirements and restrictions.
Click the link below to view Brisbane Planning Consultant, Lloyd Zola describing the General Plan process during the 7/19/18 City Council Meetings (Video of meeting 1:10:55 to 1:14:19)
A specific plan is a document designed to implement the goals and policies of the General Plan. These plans will contain detailed development standards, distribution of land uses, infrastructure requirements, and implementation measures for the development of a specific geographic area.
The Brisbane Baylands Specific Plan will contain language that will further define the details of and requirements for site remediation/cleanup, size, design and maintenance of parks and open spaces, water supply availability and fiscal requirements, as well as other specific requirements and restrictions to which the development is bound to. The Specific Plan will be included as an Exhibit to the Development Agreement, a binding contract between the Developer and the City.
It is ONLY with the City Council approval of the Specific Plan and Development Agreement that site clean-up and construction at the Baylands can begin.
According to Tom McMorrow from the law firm of Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, LLP who represents the City of Brisbane on State level matters, in 2017 the housing crisis in the Bay Area caused the State of California to look for urban sites that could be considered for housing that would positively impact the housing shortage that presently exists. The Baylands site became prominent in these discussions and pressure from the State caused Brisbane to re-consider residential on the Baylands site. The approval of the General Plan Amendment by the Brisbane voters in November 2018 allows up to 2,200 residential units to be built on the Baylands site.
Click below to view the video of Mr. McMorrow’s response to City Council at the 7/19/18 City Council meeting. (1:00:27 – 1:10:54 of the video of the meeting)
According to Tom McMorrow from the law firm of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP who represents the City of Brisbane on State level matters, the legal fees associated with a potential lawsuit with the State or others are estimated to be in the $1-3 million range or higher, an amount well above the reserves of the City.
Click below to view the video of the response to this question posed by Councilmember Madison Davis at the 7/19/18 City Council meeting. (1:31:30 of the City Council video)
Under guidance of State and County regulatory agencies, and further checked by the City’s third-party consultant, the required standards for environmental cleanup will be detailed in the Remedial Action Plan (RAP). The community will have the opportunity to provide input for the RAP in a public review process. As part of the Baylands GPA, the City requires the developer to design and remediate for ground level residential. Once the City of Brisbane approves the Baylands Specific Plan, the developer will abide by state and federal regulations for environmental remediation based on the approved land uses.
More information on environmental remediation:
Draft EIR, Chapter 4G Hazards and Hazardous Materials
If the US Navy, Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) or Regional Water Quality Control Board conclude that additional testing for radioactive material is necessary, that testing will take place. Furthermore, the Baylands GPA requires that all soil materials moved or exported from the landfill be tested prior to issuance of a grading permit. Approval of the GPA does not preclude the City from re-evaluating land use decisions in any forthcoming specific plans based on finalized risk assessments and approved remedial action plans.
In order to successfully revegetate landfill surfaces, including the planting of trees, the following are key factors:
Ensure proper planning, design and funding
Provide adequate soil quality and depth
Determine appropriate target habitat and native plant selection
Allow for appropriate planting and establishment
Conduct routine monitoring and management
Grasses, shrubs and trees have successfully been planted over closed landfills and waste containment areas. The specified trees, shrubs and grasses will have shallow root systems that will not extend to the underlying waste. Properly designed and implemented per Title 27 California Code of Regulations, the integrity of the landfill surface will be maintained to support a variety of plants and trees. In general, the high density, low permeability and poor aeration of the landfill surface provide an effective barrier to penetration by tree roots. Materials used for capping landfill sites, such as HDPE (high density polyethylene) and compacted clays, also serve as an effective barrier to downward root growth.
Any approved Baylands Specific Plan will require a guaranteed water supply prior to start of construction. The City of Brisbane shall, at the expense of the Developer, prepare the required operational studies and additional environmental analysis as needed, and will enter into any required Water Supply and Conveyance Agreement prior to or concurrent with Specific Plan approval for Baylands development.
In addition, the Baylands development will implement strict water conservation measures, such as:
Water budgeting and auditing
Multi-family unit sub-metering
Water-efficient bathroom and kitchen fixtures
Recycled water production from offsite sources
For More information on water supply:
Brisbane Baylands Draft Specific Plan, Chapter 7, Utilities and Services
Draft EIR, 4.0, Utilities Service Systems and Water Supply
Sustainability requirements are based on the City of Brisbane’s adoption of the One Planet Living model (www.bioregional.com) through the Sustainability Framework, and will be included with the submission of the Baylands Specific Plan. Baylands calls for key performance indicators for sustainability based on this model. For example, the Baylands General Plan Amendment specifically requires Baylands development:
to be energy neutral or better
Incorporate building strategies with a “green building” approach, including LEED certification
Promote and encourage non-vehicular access and movement to and from the site (particularly from Central Brisbane) and within the site as well
Incorporate innovative methods to reduce resource consumption and waste generation
Maximize solid waste diversion with the goal of achieving zero waste
Provide on-site opportunities for public art and education to contribute to public understanding of the site, including its history, ecology and the project’s sustainability mission
By embracing Brisbane’s Sustainability Framework, the Baylands will become a national model for sustainability.
More information on renewable energy generation and sustainability: Sustainability Framework
As part of the required Specific Plan for the Baylands, a preliminary infrastructure plan would be prepared to identify how construction of such infrastructure would be phased and financed. The preliminary infrastructure plan would be subject to review and approval by the City. The Baylands GPA requires that the development shall be revenue positive to the City on an annual basis where all City costs (e.g., annual operating costs, maintenance and replacement of equipment, facilities, infrastructure, cultural resource and habitat protection and management etc.) are exceeded by project-generated revenues to the City (e.g., to the City’s General Fund, enterprise funds, special funds, etc.) during all phases of development and upon final buildout.
There are many mechanisms that are commonly adopted to enhance fiscal impacts for large developments. As described by economic consultant Keyser Marston, one common financial tool is an Assessment District or a Community Facility District (CFD). A CFD could be established for maintaining public roads, public entryways, landscaped areas, trails, and parks. A CFD is a special tax, secured by a lien on private property.
More information on infrastructure improvements:
Brisbane Baylands Draft Specific Plan Chapter 9
As the largest private property owner within the Planning Area, we expect to shoulder a substantial portion of improvement costs toward infrastructure in and around the Planning Area. Additional contributors will be other developers and government entities. Cost-sharing mechanisms, such as the one anticipated to result from the Bi-County Transportation Study, will need to be negotiated by and contracted between applicable developers and government entities.
More information on infrastructure improvements:
Brisbane Baylands Specific Plan Chapter 9