Bris­bane vot­ers saw the hand­writ­ing on the Bay­lands wall

The Mercury News Weekend - - OBITUARIES & IN MEMORIAMS - John Hor­gan Colum­nist John Hor­gan’s col­umn ap­pears weekly in the Mer­cury News. You can con­tact him by email at john­hor­gan­ and by reg­u­lar mail at P.O. Box 117083, Burlingame, CA 94011. MEA­SURE JJ

Vot­ers in Bris­bane bowed to the in­evitable Tues­day as they gave a stamp of ap­proval to a scaled-back plan to de­velop the 660-acre site of a for­mer rail yard and land­fill on the east side of their quiet vil­lage.

The hand­writ­ing, so to speak, was on the wall. In the end, the cit­i­zens of Bris­bane prob­a­bly didn’t have much choice.

The area known as the Bay­lands is a prime lo­ca­tion for hous­ing and com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment. Pow­er­ful forces (state law­mak­ers, la­bor unions, etc.) out­side Bris­bane had made it clear that, if the town turned down the plan, wheels would soon be in mo­tion to over­turn a re­jec­tion.

Bris­bane, a small com­mu­nity nes­tled on the north­east side of San Bruno Moun­tain near the San Fran­cisco bor­der, was caught in a David vs. Go­liath sit­u­a­tion.

The over­rid­ing ar­gu­ment in fa­vor of Mea­sure JJ was that it was bet­ter to have at least some con­trol over the fu­ture of the site than barely any at all.

By agree­ing to prior amend­ments to the burg’s gen­eral plan in that area, the vot­ers took a re­al­is­tic, though per­haps reluc­tant, path. The risk of throw­ing up sig­nif­i­cant road­blocks — and los­ing in the end — was ap­par­ently too much for them.

Over time, when the Bay­lands prop­erty is fi­nally built out, the plans in­di­cate that up to 2,200 dwelling units and as much as 7 mil­lion square feet of com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment could be built.

For all prac­ti­cal pur­poses, the Bay­lands will rep­re­sent a new com­mu­nity that may well be much larger than to­day’s mod­est Bris­bane, with its 4,700 res­i­dents.

As of Wed­nes­day morn­ing, the San Ma­teo County Elec­tions Of­fice had Mea­sure JJ win­ning 452-376.

An­other de­feat

In the San Ma­teo-Fos­ter City School Dis­trict, the ques­tion is: Now what?

For the sec­ond time, a pro­posed par­cel tax ap­pears to have failed at the polls, al­beit in a rel­a­tively close call.

By Wed­nes­day morn­ing, re­sults for Mea­sure V were not promis­ing, with only 64.7 per­cent of vot­ers agree­ing to the $298 per par­cel tax. A two-thirds vote was re­quired for pas­sage. Some votes re­main to be tal­lied.

A prior par­cel tax ex­pired last year and an at­tempt to ex­tend it failed. Mea­sure V was the sec­ond time the dis­trict’s au­thor­i­ties had tried to reim­pose a levy.

If ap­proved, Mea­sure V would pro­vide the dis­trict with an es­ti­mated $7 mil­lion in its first year of im­ple­men­ta­tion; the dis­trict is cur­rently fac­ing a $5 mil­lion rev­enue short­fall, mainly be­cause of a re­liance on the pre­vi­ous tax.

Com­pli­cat­ing the sit­u­a­tion are la­bor ne­go­ti­a­tions. The dis­trict’s teach­ers, in par­tic­u­lar, had pinned hopes of raises on fresh money gen­er­ated by Mea­sure V.

Mil­lie Swann

How im­por­tant was the late Mil­lie Swann in the San Ma­teo-Fos­ter City com­mu­nity? Her funeral ser­vice late last month at the Pil­grim Bap­tist Church in San Ma­teo drew a stand­ing-roomonly gath­er­ing of at least 500 mourn­ers.

Two of the speak­ers, Tom Mohr and Sam John­son, are for­mer su­per­in­ten­dents of the San Ma­teo Union High School Dis­trict. The cur­rent su­per­in­ten­dent, Kevin Skelly, was an at­tendee, as were San Ma­teo Po­lice Chief Su­san Man­heimer and a num­ber of lo­cal politi­cians and com­mu­nity lead­ers.

Swann spent decades work­ing for the dis­trict in a va­ri­ety of ca­pac­i­ties. Her con­tri­bu­tions and in­flu­ence, es­pe­cially among young African-Amer­i­can stu­dents, were pro­found and far-reach­ing.

She died in Oc­to­ber at the age of 86.

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