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FW:(San Francisco) Transit Oriented Development

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  • Ronald Dawson
    TOD related out of California. Dawson ... 0/MNS176777.DTL
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 3, 2001
      TOD related out of California. Dawson

      > www.sfgate.com Return to regular view
      >Housing Outside The Box
      >Proposal links shops, apartments, Caltrain
      >Mark Simon
      >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
      >adjacent streets.
      >"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
      >dirt berm.
      >"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
      >most reasonably.
      >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
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