Will Big Wave be built over three years–or fifteen?

Adding further doubt and confusion over the proposed Big Wave project, the controversial 315,000 square foot office park/sanitarium near the airport, an appraisal of the project released today by the county indicates that the Big Wave developer plans to build the project over fifteen years.

This schedule contradicts the 30-month to 3-year construction timeline given in the project’s environmental report, currently in its public comment phase.

A change in the project phase-in from three years to fifteen years may have drastic effects on its environmental impact.

The appraisal, performed by Enright & Company of San Mateo, was contracted by Big Wave to assess employment levels over the course of the project’s development.

Critics of the project as proposed in the environmental report have raised doubts about the three-year timeline, pointing out what they say are unrealistic assumptions about the demand for office space on the coast. Critics have estimated that it would take several decades for the coastside office market to absorb so much new floor space–which approximately doubles the existing total inventory.

The Big Wave developer has pointed to the short, three-year timeline as a major factor in achieving the “no significant impact” ratings given in the environmental report.

A project phased in over fifteen years, however, may have far larger impacts on noise, stormwater abatement, construction traffic, traffic lights, aesthetics, and wetland mitigation than is described in the environmental report.

For example, the environmental report calls for wetland mitigation measures to begin “after the completion of the Wellness Center and Office Park construction.” If construction on the project began in 2010 the environmental report suggests the mitigation measures would be performed in 2013 or 2014. The schedule given to the appraiser by Big Wave, by contrast, suggests the mitigation measures would not be performed until after 2025, at least fifteen years after construction commences.

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