Preliminary OK Given Bay Meadows Plan

The Bay Meadows development plan gained approval from the San Mateo Planning Commission at its Sept. 8 meeting and has been sent to the City Council for consideration later this month.

Approval of the specific plan amendment, which would eventually result in the destruction of the historic Northern California track, will come before the council on Sept. 19. The planning commission passed along its favorable recommendation by a vote of 4-0-1 following a meeting of nearly six hours.

The Bay Meadows Land Company project will include at least 1,250 dwelling units, 1.25 million square feet of office space and 150,000 square feet of retail on the 83.5-acre racetrack site.

A supporter of the 71-year-old racetrack sees little chance of it being defeated by the City Council.

"There is no question that the City Council will approve the plan by a 5-0 vote," said Donna Bischoff, of the opposition group Save Bay Meadows. "There's no question what they will do. But we knew this 3 1/2 years ago. The city wants this project. It's too bad."

Bischoff said Linda Schinkel of the group "Keep Bay Meadows" expects to gather enough signatures from San Mateo residents to place the development plan before voters in a binding April 2006 referendum. Opponents of the Bay Meadows development would have 30 days from approval to gather the required number of signatures, which Bischoff estimated at 4,800 to 6,000.

Bay Meadows Land officials have estimated it would take about two years from the approval of the specific plan to acquire the additional entitlements from the city and county it needs to begin construction.

The company, through its owner Stockbridge Capital Partners, LLC, recently purchased 238 acres at Hollywood Park for $260 million from Churchill Downs Inc. The sale is scheduled to close Sept. 23.