San Mateo Daily News Article Sunday October 26, 2008

San Carlos residents worry about zoning
Planning commission idea protested


A recent San Carlos Planning Commission recommendation has some residents of the city’s east side worried their neighborhood is slated for a major development they believe could sink property values — or even wipe out their homes.  But the city says it won’t seize any private property, and there are currently no develop ments in the works.

At its Oct. 6 meeting, the planning com mission proposed a change to San Carlos’ general plan that would extend a multi-family, low-density land use designation planned for part of Holly Street to the south side of Springfield Drive. It would also give two parcels on Fairfield Drive a neighborhood retail designation, potentially opening up the cul de sac to heavy traffic.

“They adopted it late at night on a Mon day with no one there from the east side,” said Linda Ledwith, a resident who has lived on the south side of Springfield since 1996 and grew up in the neighborhood.  “It smells like a bad Disney movie: There’s a villain, and he wants my house,” she said.
Stan Paresa, who lives in one of the homes that would receive a retail designation, ex pressed similar fears and said he had suffered depression and disbelief since learning of the proposal.  “If I’m kicked out of here, since we refi nanced and everything, I would have to move to Texas,” Paresa, 51, said. “I have no place to go.”  Ledwith and Paresa plan to attend Monday’s city council meeting with as many as 200 of their neighbors. Council members will consider the commission’s recommendation and a number of other proposed changes to the general plan.
The proposal to include Springfield in slated changes to Holly Street, considered a gateway to the city, apparently sprung from a letter west side resident Bonnie McClure sent San Carlos’ General Plan Advisory Commit tee in September. It wasn’t clear why McClure felt invested in the project, and she couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.

Community Development Director Al Sa vay described the recommendation as a first step and said that even if the council approves it Monday, the decision won’t be finalized for about a year.  “The whole community still has months and months to examine this and debate it,” Savay said.
He added that the city has no plans to pur chase properties and isn’t talking with any developers at this time. “Any changes in the area would be dependent on the market forces,” Savay said. “It’s up to each individual property owner – there’s no one that’s going to force them to sell their But Jim Reutlinger, a resident of the north side of Spring field Drive, said a multi-family designation on the street would make his home’s value sink. And if an apartment building eventually sprung up across the street, Reutlinger predicted his property would lose 50 percent of its value.
“It just doesn’t make sense to me that someone can write a letter like that, and it turns into this,” said Reutlinger, who recently completed $250,000 of renovations on his home. “What’s to stop us from going to the next planning commis sion meeting and proposing they tear down Laurel Street?”
Reutlinger said he planned to pool money with several neighbors to hire a lawyer if the council approves the new designation.

E-mail Jessica Bernstein-Wax at

Please click here for online story.