FW:(San Francisco) Transit Oriented Development
- TOD related out of California. Dawson
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>Housing Outside The Box
>Proposal links shops, apartments, Caltrain
>Tuesday, January 30, 2001
>©2001 San Francisco Chronicle
>The difficulty lies in reaching that point where what needs to be done
>connects with a will to do it.
>If we need more housing, and no one disputes that we do, then the question
>is where we put it.
>If we don't want to build on the foothills and the open spaces and the
>baylands and the beaches -- and we don't -- then we need more density.
>Since we can't spread out, we have to go up.
>But high-rise development attacks our very notion of suburban life and the
>hearth-and-home, backyard-barbecue, ride-your-bike-in-the-street imagery
>that drew us here.
>On the other hand, our notion of what it is like to live here already is
>under attack by traffic congestion and the skyrocketing cost of a home.
>Against that backdrop, Mike Scanlon, the head of SamTrans, has been telling
>local officials in the year-plus since he came here from Florida, that they
>need to move toward transit-oriented development.
>What he means is a European-style model of residential development within
>walking distance to shopping, trains and buses that eliminates the need for
>day-to-day use of the automobile.
>And now he is proposing just that on a 7-acre parcel of Caltrain right-of-
>way land in San Carlos, on the east side of El Camino Real, just north of
>Holly Street and the train station.
>"I go around talking about transit-oriented development," said Scanlon.
>best way to talk about transit-oriented development is to model the way.
>just tell people to go do it, but to go do it."
>The very preliminary plans -- so preliminary that no formal proposal has
>been made to San Carlos officials -- call for using about four acres and
>building a 50-foot-high, five-story building.
>The ground floor would be office space and retail shopping. The remaining
>floors would be apartments, perhaps as many as 200 units.
>SamTrans' headquarters would be moved to the new building from its current
>location a few blocks away on San Carlos Avenue, Scanlon said.
>The goal, in addition to whatever the development itself will provide, is
>create a model that can be duplicated the length of the Caltrain right of
>way, at every station from South San Francisco to San Jose.
>The key will be to tie the residential and commercial development of the
>site directly to the train station and a major bus station, making mass
>transit an integral part of living in the development.
>"I want to create a little taste of Europe. With the right architecture, we
>can accommodate a more dense population and link directly to Caltrain and a
>shuttle bus service," Scanlon said.
>"People are starting to realize we've got to do something. Where are our
>children going to live? We're so far out of balance with jobs and housing,
>and it's a supply-side problem."
>San Carlos officials have begun mulling over Scanlon's concepts as part of
>community effort to rethink the city's downtown neighborhood.
>For months, the city has been conducting visualization sessions -- meetings
>with residents to consider ideas for what should and should not be done on
>the city's downtown Laurel Street stretch, as well as on El Camino and
>"In concept, it's a very good idea, but the devil is in the details. What
>they're talking about is pretty big and kind of frightening to people,"
>City Manager Mike Garvey.
>Indeed, it's downright unsettling for Duncan Browne, who lives with his
>and 6-year-old daughter in a two bedroom, one-bath home in the neighborhood
>just east of the site where Garvey wants to build.
>Since the Brownes moved in, the Caltrain grade separation has been
>completed, which meant hoisting the train tracks 15 feet into the air on a
>"When we moved here, we knew there was going to be a train there. We're not
>one of those people who buy a house at the end of a runway and then, a year
>later, they're complaining that the jet noise is terrible," Browne said.
>But if a five-story building goes up, it blocks Browne's view of the hills
>to the west, and that view is one reason he wanted the house.
>"I don't mean to be a whiner, but that's not what we signed on for," he
>On the other hand, what all of us signed on for may already be long gone.
>This is not the suburbs anymore.
>©2001 San Francisco Chronicle Page A15