The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved moving forward with a plan to implement improvements to the North Fair Oaks neighborhood, despite more than 20 residents voicing their opposition of the project Tuesday.
Many people who live in the 8th Avenue neighorhood in unincorporated San Mateo County expressed their disdain for the county's interest in revitalizing the region because they fear the influx of traffic through nearby streets would decrease home values, among other concerns.
A majority of the 27 people who addressed the county supervisors at the board meeting Tuesday in Redwood City said they were frustrated with the county planning department's community outreach effort to collect local perspective on the proposed changes, and claimed their voice was not heard during the process of the plan's formulation.
"The input from the community has been lacking," said Joan Hebert, a home owner on 8th avenue.
Her sentiments were the same as those of Vivien Marsh, who has spearheaded an effort to collect more than 300 petition signatures opposing the project that is intending to bring new business and transportation improvements to the region.
County planner Will Gibson, who presented highlights of the 200-page plan to the board, defended the county's outreach effort. He said that multiple notices were sent to each address in the region, and in the future improvements should be implemented to the county's system that track receipt of such messages.
But he noted well-attended public meetings held in the neighborhood prior to his appearance before the board Tuesday as proof that some local residents were aware of the plan and participated in discussions surrounding its formation.
During his presentation, Gibson highlighted proposed improvements such as allowing taller buildings along transportation arteries intersecting the area such as Middlefield Road, as well as integrating more housing and commercial developments into the region's zoning laws.
And though Gibson needed the board's approval to move forward with developing plans for the project, he said that many of the proposed improvements will not come to fruition for another 20 to 30 years.
He also demonstrated a willingness to readjust the plan according to the wishes of surrounding residents.
As proof, Gibson said that he would consider relocating a proposed pedestrian and bike thoroughfare across the railroad tracks at 8th Avenue that became a hot-button issue for many of the speakers from the neighborhood.
And though most supervisors agreed with Gibson that the county needed to improve its outreach to the surrounding residents, they also commended the merits of the plan.
Supervisor Adrienne Tissier said she believed she saw what were the roots of great improvements for the area in the vision for the community.
"We can make a great plan out of this as we drill down more and more," she said.
Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson, who represents the area, agreed and noted that the last time the region had undergone such an update was in 1979.
She also expressed concern regarding the amount of people from the community who said they were not properly notified of the plan amendments. But she said that there would be plenty more opportunities as the process develops for those people to provide their perspective.
"This plan is just the beginning, not the end," she said.
According to Gibson, the next step is to begin formulating changes to the zoning regulations that will guide future development in the region.