FAQs

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The following are frequently asked questions regarding the Baylands development:

  1. Where is the Baylands and what are the geographic boundaries of this area? 
  2. Who owns the property?
  3. What is a Specific Plan?
  4. What is the Process for Review and Approval of a Specific Plan?
  5. What meetings have happened so far, how can I get information on these meetings?
  6. What is the process in place for review of the Specific Plan?
  7. What is involved in the Environmental Review Process? 
  8. Who pays the cost of all the City time for processing this development request?
  9. How does the General Plan direct what happens on this development?
  10. How is the minimum 25% open space determined?
  11. What controls does the City have over development in the Baylands Subarea?
  12. What role do nearby cities and counties play in this development?
  13. What happens if the City and land owner/developer do not agree on the Specific Plan?
  14. What is the status of the environmental cleanup of the site?
  15. How quickly is development likely to happen?

You may also direct comments or questions regarding the Baylands to cityhall@ci.brisbane.ca.us.

1. Where is the Baylands and what are the geographic boundaries of this area?

The Baylands Subarea as defined in the City's General Plan is a 600-plus acre area bordered on the west by Bayshore Blvd, north by the City and County of San Francisco, east by  U.S. 101 causeway, and south by the southern end of the Lagoon.

2. Who owns the property?

The property is primarily owned by Universal Paragon Corporation (UPC).  Other owners include Sierra Point Lumber.  While the Kinder Morgan Tank Farm lies within the limits of the overall project boundaries, it is not owned by UPC nor is the Tank Farm included within the Specific Plan.

3. What is a Specific Plan?

The Specific Plan is a step below the General Plan in the land use approval hierarchy, and is used for the systematic implementation of the General Plan for particular geographical areas.

The adopted Specific Plan must be consistent with the General Plan.  Zoning Ordinances, subdivisions, public works projects, and development agreements within the Specific Plan area all must be consistent with the adopted Specific Plan.

When adopted by the City Council, the Specific Plan will become an official city planning document as is the General Plan, and future development of the site must be consistent with the Specific Plan.  Any subsequent land owner will be subject to the Specific Plan.

The requirements for a Specific Plan are established under State law.  A Specific Plan must include text and a diagram or diagrams that specify all of the following in detail:

  • Distribution, location and extent of land, including open space, within the area covered by the plan.
  • Proposed distribution, location, extent and intensity of major components of public and private transportation, sewage, water, drainage, solid waste disposal, energy, and other essential facilities proposed to be located within the area covered by the plan and needed to support the land uses described in the plan.
  • Standards and criteria by which development will proceed and, where applicable, standards for conservation, development, and utilization of natural resources.
  • A program of implementation measures including regulations, programs, public works projects, and financing measures necessary to carry out the matters listed above.
  • Financing of Capital Projects - Major capital improvements such as the Candlestick Interchange and Geneva Avenue extension will require multiple funding sources.  The Specific Plan will need to commence the process of identifying a plan to fund these improvements and identify timing of constructing projects.

4. What is the Process for Review and Approval of a Specific Plan?

The Processing of a Specific Plan involves a number of steps, which are outlined below.
  1. Complete Specific Plan application submitted.
  2. Preparation of an environmental impact report (EIR) pursuant  to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  The  EIR evaluates the potential environmental impacts of the Specific Plan, and identifies mitigation measures to minimize any such impacts.  The EIR process includes  determining the scope (i.e. topics to be addressed) of the forthcoming EIR, as well as to define alternatives to the Specific Plan which will be addressed in the EIR.  The EIR process is described in further detail in Question VIII.
  3. Once the draft EIR is completed, the EIR will be made available for public review and comment, followed by public hearings before the Planning  Commission and City Council.
  4. Any written comments received on the draft EIR will be responded to in writing.
  5. The Final EIR (consisting of the Draft EIR, written comments and responses thereto, and any changes to the EIR resulting from the comments and responses) will be published.
  6. Public hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council on the Final EIR and Specific Plan.

5. What meetings have happened so far, how can I get information on these meetings?

A complete listing of meetings held and activities undertaken is shown in the Sequence of Events webpage.  General meeting minutes are available from the "Council, Commissions, Committees" link on the main City webpage.

6. What is the process in place for review of the Specific Plan?

Development review is a long and involved process.  In Brisbane we have a history and tradition of thorough and comprehensive review.  The process is under the purview of the City of Brisbane and can be organized and changed within the parameters established in State law to meet the needs of the community.

7. What is involved in the Environmental Review Process?

The City of Brisbane determined that an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is required to identify the potential environmental impacts of the project.  The City hired a team of environmental consultants to prepare the EIR.  Consultants are hired by and work for the City of Brisbane. 

Topics evaluated in the EIR include:
 
  • Transportation
  • Hazardous Materials and Toxic Remediation
  • Air Quality
  • Hydrology/Water Quality
  • Public Services
  • Recreation
  • Utilities/Service Systems
  • Biological Resources
  • Geology/Soils
  • Cultural Resources
  • Aesthetics
  • Sustainability
  • Noise
  • Land use Compatibility


The EIR also studied alternatives to the applicant’s proposed project.  The City has undertaken an open and public process to ensure that the alternatives under consideration reflect the community's vision.  A community alternative has been identified for study in the forthcoming EIR, as has a renewable energy-based alternative.  Other alternatives, including a “no project” alternative, were also evaluated.

In addition to the EIR, the City will require a comprehensive analysis of financial impacts and opportunities.  These will include:

  • Potential new revenue
  • Cost of new services. These will include traditional services such as police and fire, water and sewer, as well as potential new services such as open space management.
  • Funding mechanisms - these will include assessment districts, special districts, etc.
     

8. Who pays the cost of all the City time for processing this development request?

The City of Brisbane and Universal Paragon Corporation have entered into a reimbursement agreement where the applicant will pay the full cost of processing this application.  This includes all consultant costs as well as staff time involved in reviewing applications, attending meetings, drafting documents and any other activity associated with processing the applications for development approvals.  To ensure that the City receives impartial advice, any advice, any needed consultants and experts will be hired and paid by the City and their work reviewed and approved only by the City.  The developer, however, is to reimburse the City for these costs.

9. How does the General Plan direct what happens on this development?

The Specific Plan(s) and subsequent PD permits must be demonstrated to be consistent with the General Plan. The analysis of General Plan consistency will be the subject of review and analysis as the project moves forward.
 
10. How is the minimum 25% open space determined?

A minimum of 25% of the Baylands Subarea is required by the General Plan to be Open Space and/or open areas.  This is a requirement of the entire Subarea regardless of ownership.  UPC, as the primary property owner and the applicant, will need to address this issue.
Open Space and open areas are defined in the General Plan as the following:

"For the purposes of the 1994 Brisbane General Plan, the land designation 'Open Space' is reserved for lands that are essentially unimproved and dedicated or proposed to be dedicated to the public for outdoor recreation and/or the preservation of biotic communities.  Aquatic areas that are in whole or part in private ownership, such as the Brisbane Lagoon, are not designated 'Open Space'."  Areas of land that are essentially unimproved and which are in private ownership are called "open areas."

11. What controls does the City have over development in the Baylands Subarea?

The City of Brisbane City Council, with input from the citizens, has complete authority over any and all development in the Baylands.  Adoption of a Specific Plan is a legislative action and is subject to the discretion of the City Council, that is, the Council may adopt, modify or deny the Specific Plan.

Any subsequent development pursuant to the specific plan will be subject to the terms, conditions and procedures set forth in any specific plan adopted for the project.  Subsequent permits and activities will also be required to comply with any required mitigation measures set forth in the specific plan EIR.

12. What role do nearby cities and counties play in this development?

While the City of Brisbane has final discretionary authority, our nearby cities and the County were asked to comment on the Environmental Impact Report.  Additionally, the City of Brisbane has been working for several years with Daly City, San Francisco and San Mateo County on regional transportation planning.  We hope to work cooperatively with our neighbors to develop a quality and community-based project.

13. What happens if the City and land owner/developer do not agree on the Specific Plan?

Although the land owner submitted the application for the Specific Plan as required under the 1994 General Plan, the Specific Plan is under the purview of the City of Brisbane which has sole discretionary authority to adopt, deny or modify the Specific Plan.

14. What is the status of the environmental cleanup of the site?

The site is divided into 3 sub areas for purposes of the cleanup of soil and groundwater contamination:  the landfill area east of the railroad, Operable Unit (OU-1) located west of the railroad and north of Geneva Avenue (extended), and Operable Unit 2 (OU-2) located west of the railroad and south of Geneva Avenue (extended).  Each sub area has unique cleanup requirements and numerous studies have been completed to identify contamination issues and recommend cleanup options.  A groundwater extraction and treatment system has been installed and is operating within OU-1.

Two State of California agencies, the Regional Water Quality Control Board (Landfill area and OU-2) and the Department of Toxic Substances Control (OU-1), are charged with adopting remediation plans and establishing remediation levels based on land use.

While the City does not have final authority over site remediation, the City has been actively involved in reviewing and commenting on remediation efforts, and will continue to do so to ensure that the City's interests are protected.  Through the Specific Plan and EIR process the City is engaging with the State agencies to ensure that site remediation and development are considered together in a coordinated fashion.

15. How quickly is development likely to happen?

The Final EIR is anticipated to be published in 2014, which will allow for public hearings on the Specific Plan to commence.  If and when a Specific Plan is approved, there will still be levels of review required before development can commence.

The timeframe is difficult to specifically predict but as we can see from the process it is likely to be several years before development takes place.