Little Brisbane in a Booming Bay

The town of Brisbane, CA with the Baylands development site to the northeast.

The town of Brisbane, CA with the Baylands development site to the northeast.

The little town of Brisbane, a city of some 4,000 people just south of San Francisco, is in the midst of a major decision. The tiny city, the majority of which was built on artificial land dumped into the bay after the 1906 earthquake, is considering one of the largest development projects in the history of the Bay Area. The Baylands project would build as many as 4,000 new homes as well as develop close to 7.5 million square feet of commercial/industrial space on 684 acres. This would more than triple the City’s population over the next 20 years while thoroughly densifying the town.

Of course a project as large as this has to come before voters, and like everything else, looks to be decided during the November 2016 general election. Obviously before that point the project developers are doing everything they can to gather input from the local residents about what their priorities are, and one element of the project has already proved a bit more controversial than the rest: housing.

As it turns out a group of local citizens has started to pitch their own proposal, one that closely resembles that of the developer, minus all of the new housing. Now that proposal would never fly, as the housing is the primary way the developer is hoping to recoup their investment, but it showcases a now familiar fight in the Bay Area. In the midst of a massive housing shortage, among a population of close to 8 million people where housing has topped the list of concerns for years now, larger housing projects still face steep opposition.

As many residents of Brisbane have already expressed during the project’s initial development and design phases, it comes down to feeling like a small town, even if that small town is sandwiched in and amongst a massive urban metropolis. There is no doubt that any development project of this size would severely alter the character of any city in the Bay Area, but the proposition of getting a town with only 2,000 homes to say yes to 300 percent growth seems like a near impossible sell.

To this end the developer has promised what was once thought impossible in little Brisbane. The proposed industrial, commercial, and office space would have the potential to create up to 20,000 new jobs, all near the major transportation corridors of highway 101 and Caltrain. Part of the development process also includes a massive environmental cleanup of much of the surrounding land, which includes a former dump site and abandoned rail yard. The price tag for the cleanup alone exceeds a billion dollars. City residents need to weigh all of these considerations with the fact that a no housing option simply isn’t an option, as stated by the developer.

Should the citizens of Brisbane move forward with the Baylands project? If you were faced with a similar decision in your community, full well knowing the scope of the present housing crisis, what would you do? Vote and comment below.

Approve the Baylands Development Project in Brisbane, CAThe Baylands Development project would add as many as 4,434 new homes, condos, and apartments, as well as 7.5 million square feet of commercial, retail and industrial space. The project is expected to triple the number of residents who live in the city over the next 20 years. Additionally, the project would generate close to 20,000 new jobs, and would finance the hefty environmental cleanup required for degraded land around the city.



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