As noted in the previous post, the grade separation project, went through a number of different alternatives and the project eventually settled for a ten foot high berm.  One of the reasons explained to the Laureola Association (now GESC) was that this was done in order to help preserve views for east side residents.  Below is a post taken Friday afternoon on the train platform of views looking west.   The SCTV buildings will replace that lovely view once it is built so soak it in now while you have the chance.

Hills from Train Station

However the SCTV draft EIR states that because of the “elevated train tracks” and the lack of “significant hillside views” of the Pulgas ridge from our neighborhood that the impacts of the 50 foot buildings* would be less than significant.

* I have seen 49 feet listed as an approximate height and as a maximum height in various documents.  I would like to know which it really is.

I will leave the significance of the loss of views up to each individual in the neighborhood to decide for themselves.  However the GESC association wants the city to be aware of the fact that the berm was indeed lowered from 16 to 10 feet in the course of the EIR process and transportation committee meetings.

The SCTV Eir states:

VQ-3. Degradation of Site and Surrounding Visual Character.

The proposed project would not substantially degrade existing character or quality on site, at sensitive viewer locations, or along scenic roadways.

Policy LU-8.11 Discourage abrupt changes in building scale. A gradual transition between low-rise to mid-rise buildings should be achieved by using low-rise building at the edge of the project site. Consider the relationship of buildings to the street, to one another and to adjacent structures and land uses, especially single-family residential.  Less-than-significant conflict.

The proposed structures would reach up to 49 feet tall and would be substantially taller that surrounding development. However, because the intensified development on the project site is consistent with goals of Resolution 2003-79 and the General Plan for the El Camino Real corridor, because the proposed structures would be buffered from residences to the east by the existing elevated Caltrain tracks, and because the proposed structures would not obstruct significant hillside views (see Section 3.3, Visual Quality), then impacts would be less than significant.

From Section 3.3, Visual Quality

As described under Existing Conditions, the hillsides of the Pulgas Ridge are visible from some portions of the GESC neighborhoods, primarily from Old Country Road and from east/west roadways in northeast San Carlos. Views of the hillsides from these areas are channeled and background views, as a result of distance and intervening existing development, landscaping, and the elevated Caltrain tracks.  Such background and channeled views do not comprise a scenic vista, and no further discussion is required.  For a discussion of impacts on views of the hillsides from the GESC neighborhoods and on the visual quality of the area, see Impact VQ-3.

I have to note that after reading through this section of the EIR that the findings feel very subjective in the text as opposed to objective and impartial.  Perhaps it’s my naivete in regards to EIR’s but I thought the EIR was supposed to be objective in assessing the impacts so that we as a community could provide feedback to the findings.  As I read through the document the EIR essentially claims that there will be no impact whatsoever from anything regarding this project.

If you have a view of the hills, you really should look at the sample views taken in the EIR and compare them to your particular view.  Were the pictures taken accurate?  Did the EIR pick locations in the neighborhood that would be most impacted by the loss of views?  It’s like the shadow study which seemed to only sample times that showed the least impact to the community.

Do you think the views pictured here from our nieghborhood are “less than significant” as the EIR states?  As a community we need to tell the city council what we think and we must get feedback and send letters and emails to Al Savay before February 2nd.

View of Hills from Laureola Park

The impacts to the community would be less than significant indeed…