An enthusiastic group of parents notched a victory on their belts Monday night after crowding into to pressure Council to back a popular day care center.
, which is overcapacity and looking to expand, currently houses 85 students at 2800 West Bayshore Road.
To move into a vacant research building at 2585 East Bayshore Road and accommodate 117 children, Mustard Seed required a zoning change. City staff recommended that Council approve a Record of Land Use Action that would change the zoning from "Office" to "Day Care Center."
That change, argued critics, would further diminish what little R&D space is left along E. Bayshore, and could endanger the lives of children there due to the building’s proximity to high-voltage power lines, the freeway, the landfill, and the airport.
Parents, however, remained uniformly in favor of the move, telling the council that Mustard Seed—a Chinese language immersion school—is a valuable community resource that has had widespread positive impacts on families and the community at large.
Lisa Yung, a parent of a 4th grader at , said she and her husband are working parents, and that Mustard Seed has provided a “safe, caring and nurturing environment for years.”
“Over last five years, mustard seed has become part of our big family,” said Yung, noting that Jeremy Lin also attended the day care.
A father of a girl who also attends Juana Briones agreed, saying that Mustard Seed has outgrown its current site.
“I think it’s crucial that council proceed with this use on East Bayshore,” the man said.
The man who occupies the property next door to the site and shares a driveway, Yates McKenzie, remained very concerned about the impact 117 children would have on traffic. McKenzie hired a traffic consultant, who had serious concerns about the shared driveway, and McKenzie said if traffic becomes an issue he’ll have no choice but to purse legal action.
“The proposed daycare center’s peak trip times coincide exactly with our property’s peak trip times and the combination is bound to cause problems,” he said in a letter to city staff.
Director of Planning Curtis Williams told City Council that concerns over traffic and potentially harmful environmental conditions were taken into account by city staff, who deemed that the site is still viable for the zone change.
“There didn’t appear to be any significant obstacles,” he said, noting that the site is not close to hazardous materials or to the airport’s area of concern. He said that the improvements being made to the building are limited to the interior, and are therefore not subject to the California Environmental Quality Act.
“CEQA in our mind clearly exempts such a use from analysis,” he said. And staff from the Transportation Division, Williams added, looked at circulation and traffic issues and concluded that no study was necessary at the site given the volume of cars that would be generated.
Council Member Gail Price motioned to approve staff’s recommendation, and Council Member Greg Schmid seconded.
“It’s very clear that we need quality child care in our community,” said Price. “I’m comfortable with the staff report and traffic and circulation issues.”
“I enthusiastically support a needed community facility and want to thank all the people who came out and supported it,” said Schmid.
Council Member Karen Holman amended the motion by adding a directive to city staff that, in the event that traffic becomes an issue for neighbors, staff will evaluate the situation and implement improvements. The motion passed on a 5-3 vote with Council Members Shepard and Klein and Mayor Yeh voting against, citing concerns about the City's authority to implement such changes.
The overall motion passed unanimously, 8-0, with Council Member Greg Scharff absent.