SamTrans proposes TOD right at San Carlos Caltrain
- Published Monday, July 5, 2004, in the San Mateo Daily Journal
Housing near rail line in the works
By Jon Mays, Daily Journal staff
A patchwork of land that comprises 6.5 acres around the San Carlos
Caltrain station is being shopped around for a mixed-use development
that could forever transform the visual environment of the city's
When it is developed, it will likely be on par with the 100 housing
units at Pacific Hacienda developed near City Hall. That development
was open for occupancy in January, said San Carlos Community
Development Director Leslie Parks.
Another nearby mixed-use project that will bring a 94,432-square-foot
building to 1000 El Camino Real was also recently approved by the
This latest project, proposed by property owner Samtrans, seeks to
redevelop the area between El Camino Real and the rail line stretching
from the Taco Bell on the north to Arroyo Street to the south. The
project area is broken up into four distinct sites, three of which are
north of the train station. Samtrans believes the northern sites have
the least development challenges.
The idea, said Samtrans Real Estate Department Manager Brian
Fitzpatrick, is to transform the underutilized space into much-needed
housing with retail and commercial space. In doing so, Samtrans can
also create more transit connections, he said.
"Samtrans views itself as a mobility manager in the county. We want
to effectuate connections between the community and our transit while
increasing better connectivity across El Camino Real," he said.
Transit-oriented development has been touted as a key way to address
the housing shortage on the Peninsula. Such a development has already
been developed in Colma. The city of San Mateo is also contemplating
a massive transit-oriented development where the Bay Meadows race
track is now.
The San Carlos project is still in its nascent stages but a number of
developers -- including nonprofit affordable housing developers -- are
expressing interest in the site. Parks estimates the project won't
hit the public hearing process until next year.
Although one may argue that living directly next to the rail line is
less than palatable for most, San Carlos Mayor Mike King said it is
ideal for those who may be priced out of a single-family home.
"We have to make an effort to make housing available and incorporate
it into transit," he said. "If we don't, then we ignore two problems
and that's the high price of housing and the long travel times."
The days of a one-income single-family home dweller are shifting, he
said. Now, there are more dual-income families with no children or
one child who may enjoy living close to public transportation, he
said. Developing the land along the rail line from car and Christmas
tree lots to high-density housing will help meet their needs and
improve the landscape of the city.
"It reflects the changing environment and it reflects the changes of
family units," King said.
Jon Mays can be reached at jon@... or (650) 344-5200 x107.