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SamTrans proposes TOD right at San Carlos Caltrain

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  • 7/5 San Mateo Journal
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 4, 2004
      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.
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