Group Settles Lawsuit Over Bay Meadows

Complaint was aimed at preventing redevelopment of the 83.5-acre racetrack site.

A lawsuit aimed at preventing redevelopment of the Bay Meadows race track site has been dropped by a San Mateo preservationist group that agreed to settle the case with the property owner and the city of San Mateo.

Linda Schinkel, representing the Friends of Bay Meadows, said that legal expenses forced the group to abandon its final challenge in the fight against the Bay Meadows Land Company. The agreement to settle was for $50,000, which went entirely to pay outstanding attorney bills, she said.

In exchange, the Friends of Bay Meadows has agreed to refrain from publicly criticizing the project or from taking any further legal action, Schinkel said.

"It just got to the point where we couldn't afford to go any further," Schinkel said. "We're not very happy about it. But it's difficult for a small citizens group to go up against a company with their resources."

Schinkel said that the settlement was reached Sept. 25 but not made public. After BMLC sold off the track's assets during a three-day auction held in August, she said there was little left to preserve. The grandstand and other buildings were razed in November, she added.

Construction of a planned mixed used development on the 83.5-acre Bay Meadows site is expected to begin this spring. It will include office space, parks, and retail and residential units.

In its San Mateo County Superior Court lawsuit filed in May, the Friends of Bay Meadows contended that the original environmental impact report, approved by the city in 2005, was deficient due to a number of changes in the original plan. The suit cited several issues, including funding problems for the required infrastructure -- such as road underpasses -- to reduce the impact of additional vehicle and train traffic. A hearing on the petition was to have been held Dec. 5.

"The loss of Bay Meadows should be a big red flag to get people in horse racing to act," Schinkel said, noting the proposed redevelopment of Hollywood Park in the city of Inglewood. "The industry has a right to defend itself."