Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Eminent Domain Is On The Way For Palo Alto

The California high speed rail will create a significant amount of eminent domain in Palo Alto. For example the railroad reconfiguration at Churchill Avenue and Alma Street could cause 36 properties to be seized through eminent domain. At $5 million per residential parcel, taking residential property in Palo Alto is the question. The acquisitions would add $200 million to the project cost before construction even begins considering the cost of Palo Alto homes. The Churchill and Alma Street crossing is the first intersection that could be redesigned. It is one of four in Palo Alto, including Palo Alto Avenue, Meadow Drive and Charleston Road.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Concar Shopping Center

San Mateo's Concar Shopping Center near near the Hayward Park Caltrain Station will be transformed from an outdated shopping center into housing and retail space - Passage at San Mateo. Mixed-use development will have 935 residences and 35,000 square feet of retail space. The site is the current location of Trader Joe’s, Peninsula Ballet Theatre, 7-Eleven, Shane Co., Ross Dress for Less, TJ Maxx and Rite Aid stores. The future plans suggest retaining a Trader Joe’s and 7-Eleven. The builders plan to have 1,291 residential parking spaces, 102 visitor spaces and 195 retail spaces which is probably would be not enough to keep all the cars of future residents on site.

Not long ago the owner of the Rite Aid Pharmacy in San Mateo is suing the developer of a large office complex under construction nearby, saying that dewatering at Hines office complex project caused the store’s floor to sink up to 9 inches in some places, resulting in extensive damage.

Dewatering involves temporarily removing water from the ground around a construction site. If you dig a hole deeper than the water table, the hole will fill up with water, like it would if you dug a hole in the sand near the ocean.

When builders excavate below the groundwater table, they often first sink small wells around the perimeter of the hole to lift water out of the soil. That lowers the water table in the construction site and prevents the excavation from filling up with water. Depending on the type of soil and geology under the sites, it can also cause settling under neighboring buildings.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Fremont Condo HOA prohibited kids from playing outside

According to the local media:
Families in Fremont have scored a huge legal victory after they sued their condo complex because it wouldn’t let their kids play outside. For years, kids were not allowed to play outside in the gated complex located on Sequim Common, home to dozens of families. The homeowners association, Silvertree Mohave HOA, had set up the rules, but now an $800,000 settlement is forcing management to pay up.
Looks like the families sued themselves and won. Plaintiffs are former homeowners in the Silvertree Mohave HOA condominium complex in Fremont, California. The people who own homes in a community with a HOA are the HOA.

As it stands now here is the final score:

  • Lewis Family: +$35K
  • Project Sentinel: +$19K
  • Lewis' "pro-bono" Lawyers +296,020
  • Each of the members in the class action: +$2,335 x 334 ($800k)
  • Families currently living there AKA Silvertree Mohave HOA -$1,150,020 (or $10,648 each)
Somehow I do not see a huge legal victory for the families living in HOA. Now they are going to have a special assessment to pay themselves. As part of the settlement, the Silvertree Mojave HOA must also post signs letting residents know that children can play outside. The children being children, upon seeing the signs never played outside ever again.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

San Antonio Shopping Center redevelopment

I used to enjoy seeing the Santa Cruz Mountains on the horizon when moving around Mountain View. The views reminded me of the city founders who saw those same mountains and named the city “Mountain View". Now those views are disappearing behind these tall, looming rectangular structures. We live in a Mediterranean climate and buildings from that area would be a welcome change here. More curves, arched windows, and so on. No one wants to live in a cube, and all those new apartments in Mountain View look like cubes.

The entire San Antonio area bordered by California, Showers, El Camino Real and San Antonio, is a one giant mess. It promised to be Mountain View's Santana Row, it is more like these buildings dropped out of the blue sky with no rhyme or reason. The developers create the vertical, rectangular "cookie-cutter" style apartment buildings that now pepper Mountain View and other neighboring communities. All of the new units being proposed are a contemporary design and someone need to break from the contemporary designs.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Palo Alto Fry's development

A huge 39-acre parcel in Palo Alto that includes the Fry’s Electronics store could be redeveloped soon when the Sobrato’s lease expires at the end of 2019, and Palo Alto is beginning to discuss how the tract could possibly be redeveloped in the future. The plan could call for multifamily condos, a new school and additional neighborhood services.

Before Fry's is bulldozed into oblivion, be sure to take a closer look at the building it shares with others and consider its history. This warehouse-type building was once a cannery, and the best local metaphor, I can think of that illustrates this area's transformation from an agriculture "Valley of Heart's Delight" to the high tech world of modern Silicon Valley.

In 1906, after the earthquake, a man named 
Thomas Foon Chew opened a cannery in Alviso called Bayside Cannery. It grew to be the third 
largest cannery of fruits and vegetables in the world (behind Libby and Del Monte, both in 
Sunnyvale). This was at a time when the Santa Clara Valley was mostly agricultural and the center 
of the canning industry.

Bayside grew so large that in 1919 Foon built a second plant in Palo Alto mainly to pack tomatoes. This is the building now occupied by Fry's. Sometime in the 1920s the plant was sold to Safeway, which ran it until 1949 under the name Sutter Packing. It later became a soft drink bottling plant before becoming Maximart, an unusual retail enterprise with an interesting history of its own.
 From mechanically canned tomatoes to microchips 
within the same space, all within living memory.

This building will undoubtedly disappear as we turn our attention to our next major concern, finding housing for the very population modern technology has brought to the area. Change will come. It is inevitable. But with this change we will have lost one of the most important symbols we have that links us with our past. Take a good look at it while you can.