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S.F. drops notion of conquering Brisbane

October 9, 2016

by C.W. Nevius : sfchronicle – excerpt

It has been an educational couple of weeks for the good people of Brisbane. Welcome to San Francisco Politics 101.

For starters, the pull-up-the-drawbridge crowd in Brisbane has been made aware that decisions on development and housing don’t take place in a small-town bubble, but need to be part of a regional discussion. Therefore, the idea that the town was going to allow commercial development of 684 acres of open space with no housing was not going to fly.

Known as the Baylands, the site could be a terrific, smart development with plenty of transportation options — from Highway 101 to Caltrain to Muni — and is still in the pipeline. But there will definitely be some discussion from all parties about how it will work.

Brisbane’s plan to go forward without housing — and let San Francisco take care of that small detail — irked San Francisco supervisors so much last week that they suggested annexing Brisbane and making its decisions themselves.

Now the annexation is off the table. Which is a shame, because if we were going to start swallowing up cities, I was going to propose Sausalito next. It’s prettier than Brisbane — no offense, Brisbaners — and it’s also on the water.

Let’s be honest: Annexing Brisbane was never going to happen.

Known as the Baylands, the site could be a terrific, smart development with plenty of transportation options — from Highway 101 to Caltrain to Muni — and is still in the pipeline. But there will definitely be some discussion from all parties about how it will work.

Brisbane’s plan to go forward without housing — and let San Francisco take care of that small detail — irked San Francisco supervisors so much last week that they suggested annexing Brisbane and making its decisions themselves…

Now the annexation is off the table. Which is a shame, because if we were going to start swallowing up cities, I was going to propose Sausalito next. It’s prettier than Brisbane — no offense, Brisbaners — and it’s also on the water.

Let’s be honest: Annexing Brisbane was never going to happen…(more)

That’s for sure. Brisbane Mayor Cliff Lentz appeared at Tuesday’s San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting, waited through a typically long and verbose public-comment session, and then got up to read a letter to the supes. Unfortunately, his letter was so long that the three-minute time limit expired. When the end-of-time bell rang, there was some confusion about whether he could continue, but Supervisor Scott Wiener stepped in.

“We’re talking about conquering a neighboring town,” Wiener said. “We can let him finish his letter.”

As one wit observed, that was “an appeal to colleagues that has presumably never been voiced in the storied City Hall chamber before.”

Lentz finished his letter and then was invited by Peskin to a meeting in his office.

“We had a nice visit,” Peskin said. “We said let’s all get along and not talk through the press. This is a dynamic process.”.

There are a couple of points that need to be made. First, Peskin reminds us, the city of Brisbane does not own the Baylands. Most of the acreage was purchased by Universal Paragon Corp., which has been trying to put together a development plan for more than 10 years.

The Paragon plan, which Brisbane residents have repeatedly said they find threatening, includes 7.5 million square feet of commercial/industrial construction and 4,434 homes. For a municipality with just over 4,000 residents, that’s a huge change. It is understandable that the town feels uneasy with more than doubling in size.

However, the other idea, the “community alternative” plan proposed by residents, which features 8.3 million square feet of commercial construction and zero housing, is also a nonstarter. Given the housing shortage in the Bay Area, some living space has to be part of any new large development.

Compromises will certainly have to be made, and it wouldn’t be a terrible bet to guess that when something is built it will include fewer than 4,000 homes and more than zero…(more)

This will make the folks in Brisbane a lot more aware of their role in the regional government scheme of things. They will become a lot more concerned about the Plan Bay Area and may pull back on supporting the regional taxes that support the power grabs.

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