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SAMCAR Sponsors 2007 Grand Boulevard Awards Celebration



Thursday, November 8, 2007

SAMCAR hosted the 2007 Grand Boulevard Awards reception, honoring six civic improvement projects last Thursday, November 8 at the San Mateo County History Museum in Redwood City. Over 100 people attended the event, including top officials from the county and each of the cities in which the projects were undertaken.

SAMCAR President Geoffrey Craighead thanked everyone for attending the event and taking the time to recognize projects “that bring all cities closer to their vision of El Camino Real.”

The Grand Boulevard is a collaboration of 19 cities, counties, local and regional agencies seeking to improve the performance, safety and aesthetics of El Camino Real throughout Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. Starting at the northern Daly City city limit (where it is named Mission Street) and ending near the Diridon Caltrain Station in central San Jose (where it is named The Alameda), the initiative brings together for the first time all of the agencies having responsibility for the condition, use and performance of the street.

El Camino Real is the most important arterial on the Peninsula, carrying more people than any other. There are widespread complaints about congestion, appearance and safety of the street. The public perception has been that the street is not well-planned, as many planning efforts are underway, but remain uncoordinated. As a result, the San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans), Santa Clara Transportation Authority (VTA), Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network and SAMCEDA (San Mateo Economic Development Association) have started a program bringing together all of the agencies having partial responsibility for the street.

Last week, six projects were recognized for their design, their goals and commitment to reviving El Camino Real according to the partnership’s vision for El Camino Real and renewing the corridor’s potential for housing and urban development, balancing the need for cars and parking with viable options for transit, walking and biking. They included:

1. Redwood City’s Downtown Precise Plan, a new zoning document that seeks to stimulate housing and job growth in this strategic location, including El Camino Real, which allows for a wide range of densities, with height limits up to 12 stories and no cap on dwelling densities for individual projects and creates a dense, mixed-use, walkable district featuring a large job base and a regional mass transit connection;

2. Sunnyvale’s Precise Plan for El Camino Real, which targets four  opportunity areas (“nodes”) along El Camino Real for intensification of density via mixed-use developments encouraging retail, office and residential to coexist and be mutually supportive, with future considerations that include greater integration to Downtown Sunnyvale and the city’s Caltrain station;

3. War Memorial in Daly City, a 40,000 square foot community center, which includes a new 7,000 square foot library, two gymnasiums, offices, sub-dividable meeting spaces, a computer lab with high speed internet, and two kitchens;

4. Top of the Hill Improvements in Daly City, which creates a pedestrian/transit plaza at Samtrans’ highest demand boarding location with appropriately sized shelters and pergola/wind screen to protect users from the elements, safety lighting, benches, trash/recycle receptacles and other pedestrian amenities, providing an integrated pedestrian environment with wider, continuous sidewalks linking the plaza with nearby high demand activity centers including the Landmark Plaza development and the War Memorial Community Center;

5. Trestle Glen at El Camino Transit Village in Colma/San Mateo County, which will provide 119 units of affordable housing and a child care center at the Colma BART Station, adjacent to a major Samtrans bus depot, incorporating design elements from nearby residential neighborhoods, and teamed with a new 32-unit townhouse development for entry-level buyers; and

6. Villa Montgomery in Redwood City, a multi-family rental project that has 58 very low and extremely low income units, 1250 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor, with rooftop solar and other features that will make it the first LEED-certified multi-family building in San Mateo County.

Russell Hancock of Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network, and Michael Scanlon of SamTrans introduced the city officials and planners involved in each of the projects, which they said “exemplify the goals of the Grand Boulevard’s vision.”

“We’re here today because all of us care about the design features of El Camino Real from San Francisco to San Jose, encompassing 19 cities,” said Hancock. “None of us in particular are proud of what it is today; it’s a long stretch down and there are many parts of it that don’t reflect us as one region. It’s time to come together and rethink El Camino.”

Each city’s officials described their projects as “a labor of love,” embarked upon with serious commitment. Upon accepting her city’s awards, Barbara Pierce, mayor of Redwood City, noted, “It’s not enough to have just these cities. It will take all cities to find their special El Camino.”

Upon recognizing each project, Hancock stated, “These projects are examples of the kinds of things you can do with careful planning if you pay attention to design. We’re going to put these principles before every city council and have them approved. … In the Bay Area, it’s no longer acceptable to settle for less.”

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The San Mateo County Association of REALTORS® (SAMCAR) is a professional trade organization representing over 3,800 REALTORS® and Affiliate members engaged in the real estate business on the Peninsula. SAMCAR promotes the highest ethical standards of real estate practice, serves as an advocate for homeownership and homeowners, and represents the interests of property owners in San Mateo County.

The term "REALTOR®" is a registered collective membership mark which identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and who subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.

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