Interesting thread going on on San Carlos Patch.

There is a lot of dis-information going around regarding CEQA process. Unfortunately and disconcertingly, that dis-information is coming from city staff.

I’m pasting the comments to this editorial on patch for our readers convenience here:

Paul Magginetti

This project will shoehorn 280 apartments in between the train tracks and El Camino while claiming it is “Luxury Housing”. The “long term lease” will be for 99 years, a de-facto sale. The terms of this lease have been withheld from the public, so there is nobody to hold accountable in the future if there has been “carelessness with the truth”.

The bottom line is that once this complex is built it can no longer be used to stage any rail improvements.

It is naive to assume that for electrification “all that is needed for electricity is hanging a few wires”. It is even more naive to think that San Carlos’ biggest project to date, one that will provide 20% of the population growth “required” between now and 2030, will have no negative impacts at all.

Legacy and SamTrans have spared no expense in hiring lawyers to cherry pick data and use legal fictions to rationalize their goals while threatening lawsuits if they don’t get their way. All this so CalTrain can secure guarantee future income without any accountability to the pubic, a strategy that they will repeat up and down the peninsula to guarantee their survival as an institution.

  • CalTrain should stick to transportation, not being a housing authority.
  • New residents deserve housing in a better location; Wheeler Plaza or other areas of San Carlos.
  • Current residents deserve honest disclosure of the effects of this project. Misinforming the public subverts the constitutional process.


Dimitri Vandellos

Railroad right of way property from a public agency is being “leased” to a private developer with absolutely no transparency and no details on the financials while the Caltrain Electrification and High Speed Rail projects have yet to be fully fleshed out.

How did Caltrain and the JPB (Public Agencies) acquire that land? San Mateo County put up the money to purchase the corridor from Union Pacific Railroad! The berm project used the right of way and the buildings along El Camino were torn down for the berm.

• Once the buildings are built, how do you think a private developer is going to feel about that Right of Way? Do you think they will agree to tearing those buildings down?
• Where is the agreement that Old County Road will not be used as a staging area for either Caltrain Electrification or High Speed Rail?
• Where is the agreement that the buildings will be torn down (if necessary) for the electrification project?
• Where is the agreement that the buildings will be torn down when the state pushes through the high speed rail project?
• What happens when/if the Berm has to come down for HSR to support the system (concrete viaduct) that the state and HSR will choose?
• What if we need a spur for the Berm project for either the Electrification or HSR projects?
• Where do you think the staging areas for these rail projects will be?
• Where is the full disclosure of the agreement?
• How will freight and HSR trains co-oexist on a 2 track system?


Ben Fuller
President, Greater East San Carlos Neighborhood

Hi Rick:

You repeatedly are missing the key questions and get caught up in semantics: Why is there a secret lease between SamTrans and Legacy that gives away public land for 99 years and puts 65 foot buildings (55 feet on top of a 10 foot hill) that tower over Greater East San Carlos? And what happens to Old County Road and the Greater East San Carlos neighborhood when high speed rail and CalTrain electrification invariably come through?

For you to use their legalese as actual responses to our questions is journalistically irresponsible and does not come close to telling the full story of how they are paying lawyers to explain away the massive impacts of this 65 foot, 8-building behemoth being built on top of a brownfield for which there is no plan to clean up lead and arsenic that then can flow into our drinking water and the Bay.

The smokescreen associated with this EIR document is put together as a means to an end. The developers and SamTrans have refused to talk with our neighborhood for 5 years and have also refused to lower the height of the building in spite of years of requests (In fact they have raised the building 7 feet since we started). Rick, this EIR is a total sham and con job put together by paid consultants to satisfy a legal requirement that puts the future of Greater East San Carlos, Old County Road, and San Carlos as a whole in grave risk without any significant benefits whatsoever.


Rick Eymer

Hi guys and thanks for all the great comments. I think there has been a major misunderstanding. The GESC neighborhood seems to feel this EIR is the end all of studies. It is NOT, by any means. There’s a tendency to go off subject when it relates to this particular EIR because of what we perceive as the effects of this project on our beautiful neighborhood. The Electrification project (Note: think Muni buses in San Francisco) will be a totally separate EIR and has nothing to do with the Transit Village Site. Closing down Old County Road did not have to be addressed in the EIR because it is not on the actual site. Anything that affects city residents will be addressed. After 13 years of going back and forth on this, do you really think that the final decision will be made on a report that has, thus far, only been presented to the Planning Commission? There has yet to be an all-inclusive report. The EIR has yet to be accepted even by the Planning Commission. Your major concerns have yet to be addressed. I cannot stress that enough. You have been raising concerns that did not have to be included in the EIR. Even at 700 pages and full of legalese, this is still still one part of the whole. You still have a say in this project. I would prepare for the public hearing on Oct. 1 because that’s when the real debate begins. I have raised concerns, dating to the banishment of my favorite Car Stereo business on Holly and El Camino. Close Old County Road? Not on my watch.

Bill Bohlen

@Rick – you use the words “our beautiful neighborhood”, do you live on the East Side?



With all due respect, foreseeable projects on railroad right of way property do need to be addressed in the EIR for the Transit Village. The repeated siloing of the impacts both direct and cumulative is a technique that has been used to rationalize away the significant impacts to our community and to San Carlos as a whole.

The EIR is the city’s document and staff need to take a more balanced approach that takes current San Carlos residents impacts into account to ensure that those issues are addressed.

City staff, the planning commission and the city council need to take a balanced view of the impacts and question the conclusions arrived at in the EIR, this is simple due diligence that must occur. They will also need to take into consideration impacts that do not need to be addressed in the EIR when the time comes.

The subjective analysis of this deeply flawed EIR needs to be challenged and need to be challenged now. That is why we are bringing these issues up.



Rick Eymer

Where in the California Environment Quality Act does it say “foreseeable projects on railroad right of way property do need to be addressed in the EIR for the Transit Village?”
I think you are assuming things not on the table and that you are projecting.
As Community Development Director Al Savay has stated, even if you don’t like certain items in the EIR, you still approve if it meets the CEQA requirements. That is the only criteria.
Right now, the EIR is still under study by the Planning Commission and city staff. Who says commission members, city staff et al are not taking your views into account or not giving it due diligence? Did Scot Marsters not take copious notes?
I can only go by what Savay has told me, and that’s every San Carlos citizen has a right to be heard. Have you not voiced all your concerns yet? Is there something you are hiding? No matter what you think “they” are hiding, you have been given and will continue to receive the chance to speak up. Keep pounding on the same issues and you’re likely to keep getting the same results though.
You did challenge the EIR and that’s great. You have spoken. I would like to see the planning commission and city staff do their job now.
on October 1, we can get together and do it all over again. It won’t end there.
The developer wins nothing even if the EIR is approved. Legacy cannot move one ounce of dirt. All they will have done is satisfy ONE requirement. Progress after 13 years, I guess.



From CEQA Guidelines Section 15355, the definition of cumulative impact is as follows:
Cumulative impact refers to two or more individual effects which, when considered together, are considerable or which compound or increase other environmental impacts. (a) The individual effects may be changes resulting from a single project or a number of separate projects; and
(b) The cumulative impact from several projects is the change in the environment which results from the incremental impact of the project when added to other closely related past, present, and reasonably foreseeable probable future projects. Cumulative impacts can result from individually minor but collectively significant projects taking place over a period of time.


Rick Eymer

That certainly seems legitimate. I suppose there’s a decision to be made concerning the timeline of all this.